A Timaru nurse has been struck off the register for punching a “vulnerable” elderly man in the mouth while she was working at a Waimate rest home.
Timaru registered nurse Kim-Marie Ainsworth was found guilty in Timaru District Court of assaulting the partially blind Lister Home Resident in January last year. She was fined $2000, and ordered to pay witness expenses of $300.
A New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal was held last month to determine her professional sentence. She did not appear before the tribunal or have any counsel representing her. Another Lister Home carer told of seeing the man telling Ms Ainsley he wanted to get out of bed, but that Ainsley had not helped him.
The carer went to get someone to help to move the man but when she returned she saw Ms Ainsley pulling her hands away from his mouth, as if she had just punched him in the face. His mouth was bleeding and filling with blood and his teeth were red, she said. She said Ainsley told her something to her like “This will go on an incident report that he hit his mouth on a bedrail, got it?”
Ainsley said she had been frustrated at the demands of the man, whose name is suppressed, but denied assaulting him. Timaru District Court Judge Robert Spear said when he convicted her he had serious concerns over the credibility of her evidence and that he was not prepared to accept or rely on it. He said her conduct was “totally unacceptable”.
“Even if he were a difficult or demanding patient, he was entitled to be treated with care and respect,” he said. The tribunal ruled that her actions had been “at very serious end of the spectrum of inappropriate conduct” and struck her off. She was also told to pay $1000 costs. Ainsley had worked for the rest home since 2007 and was about to start working for Timaru Hospital. The assault occurred on the last day of her contract with Lister Home.
The man had since died.