Care worker alleged to have struck patient with mop loses unfair dismissal action

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A care assistant at a care home who allegedly struck a male patient with a mop brush, dislocating the man’s shoulder, has lost her claim for unfair dismissal.

In the incident, the care assistant is alleged to have struck the patient with the mop brush and physically restrained him by the wrists on November 30, 2017.

The incident was reported the following day and on December 8, 2017, the care home’s Safety Committee recommended that the care assistant be reassigned to an alternative department pending a review of the incident.

The care home appointed two independent investigators to investigate, and eight people, including the care assistant, were interviewed.

The investigation concluded that an incident took place between the patient and the care assistant which led to the patient sustaining a dislocated shoulder.

The home’s Disciplinary Panel concluded that the worker’s actions were a serious breach and amounted to serious/gross misconduct.

As a result, the care worker was informed on June 20, 2018, that her employment was terminated with effect from that date.

The worker appealed the dismissal internally and, on August 30 last, the dismissal decision was upheld.

The care assistant sued for unfair dismissal and at a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) hearing into the case, she stated that she was wrongly accused in relation to the incident.

The care assistant told the hearing that the patient in question had challenging behaviour.

The care assistant stated that on the morning of November 30, 2017, the patient had gone on an outing and when he returned, the care assistant took him to his room.

According to WRC Adjudication Officer Rosaleen Glackin, the care worker “then outlined a series of events involving other employees including an agency worker”.

The woman denied that she hit the patient with the mop while cleaning his room.

In her findings, Ms Glackin found that on the basis of the evidence and her own questioning at the hearing: “I do not recommend in favour of the complainant in relation to the dispute and do not find that she was unfairly dismissed”.

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