Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland nurse who locked elderly man in room back at work

A nurse who accepted a police caution for the false imprisonment of an elderly dementia patient has been allowed to return to work
A nurse who accepted a police caution for the false imprisonment of an elderly dementia patient has been allowed to return to work

By Lisa Smyth

A nurse who accepted a police caution for the false imprisonment of an elderly dementia patient has been allowed to return to work.

Angela Mary Donaldson appeared at Newry Crown Court in November 2017 after locking an elderly care home patient soiled in faeces and urine in his room for an hour.

She was suspended for six months by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in September 2018, but a review panel has decided to lift the suspension.

This is despite the fact the panel found there was a risk of a repetition of her behaviour, and concluded that "a finding of continuing impairment is necessary on grounds of public protection".

As a result, the committee has imposed a series of conditions on her licence until she is able to demonstrate that she is capable of providing safe and effective care. The order will come into effect on April 22 and will remain in place for 12 months.

On October 5, 2014 Donaldson was working as an agency nurse at Ard Mhacha Nursing Home in Armagh. She and a colleague went into the room of a man who had been diagnosed with dementia. They discovered he was in an agitated state and "incontinent of faeces and urine".

Donaldson tried and failed to calm and care for the resident.

She also rejected the suggestion by her colleague that she should request assistance from a male member of staff.

Donaldson then locked the resident in his room and continued on with her duties.

She told other staff about what she had done at a handover meeting about an hour later, resulting in three colleagues going to help the resident.

Donaldson was suspended by the nursing agency pending the outcome of an investigation.

Explaining its decision to lift the suspension, the NMC panel said it had "noted that you accepted the charge and have fully engaged with the NMC throughout its investigation".

"In particular, the panel considered that you have demonstrated an understanding of how your actions, in locking Resident A in his room when incontinent of faeces and urine, put him at a significant risk of harm.

"In addition, the panel noted that you have demonstrated remorse in writing, as well as an understanding of why what you did was wrong and how it impacted negatively on the reputation of the nursing profession.

"However, the panel noted that you do not accept that your fitness to practise is currently impaired, and did not provide oral evidence to the panel at this hearing.

"The panel considered that it would have appreciated hearing directly from you as to how you have incorporated your reflections and training into your current practice, and how you would deal with a similar situation if it were presented to you in the future.

"As such, the panel considered that your insight, although developing, is not fully sufficient."

The panel decided that suspension would be "disproportionate" and that the public would be adequately protected by an order that means Ms Donaldson will have to be supervised while carrying out nursing duties. They said this would allow her to demonstrate safe and effective practice.

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