Matron Given Nursing Home Ban Over Horseplay

A SENIOR nurse was banned from working in nursing homes for two years yesterday after she admitted leaving patients alone while she had water fights with other nursing home staff.

Michelle Bache had regular play fights with garden hoses and buckets of water while in charge of patients who pay £450-a-week to stay at the private nursing home.

A disciplinary tribunal heard no one was left looking after 30 patients because all staff were laughing outside having the water fight in the grounds of the country nursing home.

Tom Walker, representing the Nursing and Midwifery Council, told the disciplinary hearing the “water fight issue” was one of seven charges of misconduct against Mrs Bache.

The 39-year-old acting matron also allowed residents to be restrained using tables if they had problems sitting upright, such as those who had dementia or who had suffered strokes.

The disciplinary panel heard Bache left the home without qualified supervision to visit another member of staff close by and to smoke outside the home with several other carers.

She was also accused of failing to ensure residents were washed properly, and washed her hair when she was the only qualified member of staff on duty, leaving the home unsupervised.

She also failed to instruct members of staff to use hoists within the home and encouraged secondary dispensing of medication which she requested carers to administer to residents.

Bache, who was sacked from Bodawen Nursing Home in Porthmadog, Gwynedd, in December 2004 after two care-workers complained to the Care Standards Inspectorate for Wales, admitted all the charges.

An agreed statement of facts said, “The registrant admits to being involved in water fights at the home on more than one occasion.

“The registrant admits that this was unacceptable behaviour for the acting matron and nurse in charge of the home. In addition, on one occasion the registrant admits that no one was looking after residents and all the staff on duty were engaged in the water fight.”

Fiona Patterson, mitigating, said Bache, from Pwllheli, Gwynedd, was promoted to deputy matron as soon as she passed the relevant qualifications in March 2003.

She told the Cardiff hearing Mrs Bache lacked “maturity and experience” when given the role of deputy matron in 2004 after working for 10 years at the home.

She later became acting matron but was sacked later that year when the problems emerged.

She said, “It was this plus staff shortages and staff who were unfamiliar with the home that led to her under performance. This lead to her being overwhelmed professionally.”

The panel heard a staff shortage meant many nurses came from agencies or abroad, some with poor communication skills. Ms Patterson said Bache had worked in a hotel and as a shelf-stacker in Asda since she was sacked which had seen her take-home earnings halve.

The panel found her guilty of misconduct.

Chairing the conduct and competence committee Jillian Alderwick said, “You were the acting matron of a nursing home where many of these patients were vulnerable. You were the only qualified nurse.

“Your behaviour was clearly in breach of our professional code of conduct.”

Bache was placed under a conditions of practice order banning her from working in care homes until 2010.

Conditions include disclosing the order to prospective employers, only seeking employment within an NHS ward and never being the only qualified nurse on duty.

The panel chair said, “While we take a very serious view of your misconduct, we believe your lack of guidance had a significant impact on the charges.”