Carer struck off for leaving disabled patients on toilet for two hours – while she smoked


A CARER has been struck off after leaving disabled patients on the toilet for two hours – while she took cigarette breaks.

Melissa Black, who was employed by Scottish charity Cornerstone at a care home in Aberdeen in 2016, was found guilty of misconduct by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

The hearing, which was held in Dundee on May 16 and 17, heard how Ms Black went out for cigarette breaks instead of helping residents off the toilet.

One witness told the hearing that Ms Black “tended to wander off” and leave her to deal with residents on her own.

While another described how she had witnessed two residents on the toilet when she left the care home, and when she returned two hours later they were both still there.

Ms Black then admitted to her that they “had not moved”.

The findings also detailed that Black left residents “alone on the toilet each for around two hours.”

The SSSC then decided to remove Ms Black from the register, as if she repeated her actions residents would be at “significant risk of harm.”

The SSSC described hearing found in fact that in June 2016 at Garthdee Service in Aberdeen: “At approximately 8.30am resident AA was assisted to use the toilet by means of a toilet chair. AA remained on the toilet until at least 9.10am.

“Sometime after 9.10am you returned from a cigarette break and assisted AA from the toilet.”

The findings also detailed that Black left residents “alone on the toilet each for around two hours.”

Witness ZZ, a former support assistant with Cornerstone, told the hearing that Ms Black: “tended to wander off and leave her to deal with the residents alone.”

The witness added that she was concerned about the length of time Ms Black left resident AA on the toilet, and asked her several times to move her.

The hearing transcript said that ZZ: “Recalled you left for a cigarette break of at least ten minutes before assisting AA off the toilet. She considered that by then AA had been there for about forty minutes.

“As far as she was aware you had not checked on AA during that time. She stated that she had offered several times to assist but you had said you would see to it.”

The hearing also recieved written evidence from former colleagues of Ms Black. One witness, XX, submitted that: “On the day in question you had told her that AA was on the toilet and that you had stated that you would remove AA from the toilet after you had had a cigarette.”

Another witness, VV, submitted that whilst leaving the care home she had spotted two residents on the toilet and: “when she returned two hours later they were still there.

“She stated that you had told her that they had not moved from the toilet whilst she was away and that she reported the matter to UU.”

In witness UU’s evidence, the panel heard that after being confronted with the allegations, Ms Black admitted leaving the residents on the toilet for two hours and was “sorry.”

The SSSC panel found that the carers behaviour led to the panel finding that “her fitness to teach was impaired on the grounds of misconduct.”

They took note of Ms Blacks lack of “regret” and failure to “remediate for her actions.”

Explaining their decision, the SSSC panel said: “There was no evidence before them that you had shown appropriate insight and there was very limited evidence of regret. There was nothing before the panel which allowed them to consider why you acted as you did.

“Given your lack of engagement, the panel could not be satisfied that you understood the gravity of your conduct and that repetition was unlikely.”

They took note due to her suspension from Cornerstone in August 2016 she had not had a chance to remediate for her actions.

However, they added: “There are serious public protection and public interest issues.

“If repeated, it would have a serious effect on service users and the panel considered there would be a significant risk of harm.”

A spokeswoman for Cornerstone said: “Following an internal investigation in August 2016, Ms Black was no longer employed by Cornerstone.”