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Suspension for Chester care home nurse who injured resident in tobacco dispute

Watchdog says Janet Kirk failed to treat him with compassion and respect

Crawfords Walk Care Home in Hoole dismissed Janet Kirk after the incident(Image: Google Streetview)

An experienced nurse who caused injury to a ‘vulnerable’ man at a Chester care home after a dispute over his tobacco allowance has been slapped with a suspension order by a health watchdog.

A disciplinary panel heard that the incident at Crawfords Walk Care Home in Hoole – which looks after dementia and mental health patients –unfolded after Janet Kirk repeatedly refused to hand over a resident’s daily ration of tobacco, without which he became ‘increasingly agitated’ throughout the day back in May 2015.

When he tried to enter the lounge after changing into his pyjamas – which is against the care home’s policy that residents must be dressed in day clothes to enter – Ms Kirk attempted to block his way by closing two sets of doors.

But, in the process, the resident’s wrist became trapped and he suffered a cut.

Spared being struck off

Ms Kirk was found guilty of misconduct during a hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on March 3 and narrowly avoided being struck off altogether.

In addition to withholding the tobacco, using force to prevent the resident from entering the lounge and causing injury – all charges which she admitted – the panel determined she was guilty of a series of blunders relating to inaccurate entries to care plans at Oaklands Nursing Home in Littleton , where she went on to work after being sacked from Crawfords Walk.

The NMC panel said ‘it was clear that he was a vulnerable individual’.

Another nurse who worked at the home said Ms Kirk was familiar with his daily regime and the impact that her withholding the tobacco would have had on him.

'Psychological distress'

A report of the NMC hearing stated: “In the panel’s judgement, Ms Kirk caused psychological distress and actual physical harm to Resident A and also put others in her care at unwarranted risk of harm by her misconduct.

“By not treating Resident A with kindness, respect and compassion, and by not respecting his dignity, she breached a fundamental tenet of the profession.

“It follows that her misconduct will have undermined public confidence in the profession, thereby bringing it into disrepute.”

Ms Kirk claims that she was suffering ill health and a personal bereavement at the time.

Issue of remorse

But the panel concluded that, despite her apology for her failings, her ‘insight is slight’.

“Ms Kirk asserts that she is remorseful for her actions but, in the panel’s judgement, her focus is primarily on the impact which these incidents have had on her,” it said.

The imposition of a striking-off order was given ‘serious consideration’ during the hearing, but the panel ultimately decided that would be disproportionate.

She was handed a nine-month suspension order and has 28 days to appeal.

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