Áras Attracta care worker did not have training

An Áras Attracta worker went from mopping floors and changing beds to caring for patients without any training.

Castlebar District Court heard Kathleen King, aged 56, of Knockshanvally, Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo, who was shown in RTÉ footage slapping a resident across the face with a piece of paper and shoving her into a chair, got a pay rise when she went from domestic assistant to care assistant in 2001.

She had completed a course in manual handling in 1998, but didn’t undertake another course until 2014, and never completed Fetac training in caring and communicating for patients.

Footage showed Ms King, who had “one eye” on Coronation Street, hitting a resident across the face with a piece of paper on the morning of November 15, 2014.

She denied a charge of assault, and claimed she was trying to stop the 66-year-old woman, who has intellectual and profound physical difficulties with severe osteoporosis, from sliding off the chair and breaking a hip.

“I was trying to keep her on the chair to keep her safe; that’s what I was trying to do. If she broke a hip I’d be in trouble. My job would be on the line and I didn’t want that to happen.

“It was poor judgement and bad practice and I wish every day it didn’t happen.”

Joan Walsh, aged 42, Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co Sligo, the staff nurse in charge of Bungalow 3, also spoke of her regret at slapping another resident seeking her attention.

“I regret it. I don’t recall the incident. I saw it first when I went to RTÉ last December. It’s not something I would do. In hindsight, I’d like to think I would do things differently.

“It was poor judgement in an instant reaction; it’s not something I’m proud of.

“Miss B, because she didn’t have any family, everybody was very fond of her. We were all very fond of her,” she added.

There were staffing issues in Áras Attracta, she said, and she had applied to have her hours reduced. She was working a 12-hour shift on the day of the incident. “I found conditions very stressful. I knew I was very tired.”

Both defendants denied assault. Their cases will come before the court next Friday next to set a date for Judge Mary Devins’ decision.

It emerged in court that Hiqa had carried out an inspection at Áras Attracta two months prior to RTÉ secretly recorded footage in Bungalow 3, and found no issues with patient care.

The HSE’s Quality and Patient Safety Executive also visited Áras Attracta in the summer of 2014, and carried out inspections over six days.

“They didn’t identify any major practice issues like we’ve seen in these clips,” said Harry Kenny, acting programme director at Áras Attracta at the time of the secret filming.

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