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Nursing home manager sacked after sharing images of dead resident on Facebook

The nursing home sacked the nurse manager for gross misconduct in November 2018.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

A NURSING HOME sacked a clinical nurse manager after she allegedly set up a Facebook page where images were posted of a resident’s buttocks and of a deceased resident laid out in her bed in preparation for her funeral.

The nursing home sacked the nurse manager for gross misconduct in November 2018 and the nurse manager has now failed in an unfair dismissal action against the sacking at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

WRC Adjudication Officer, Niamh O’Carroll Kelly found that the entire disciplinary process “was fair, thorough and transparent” and that the sanction of dismissal “was well within the band of reasonableness in all of the circumstances”.

O’Carroll Kelly said that some of the images allegedly posted on Facebook “were of the resident’s buttocks and one of a resident who was laid out in her bed in preparation for her funeral”. No parties are in named in the case.

The nursing home told the WRC that the conduct of the nurse manager which gave rise to her dismissal included the posting of unauthorised photographs of residents on Facebook and the unauthorised photography of resident funerals.

The nursing home also dismissed the nurse manager for making derogatory comments about residents, colleagues and the management team and contacting witnesses via text and through Facebook while under instruction by management not to do so.

Data protection concern

The nursing home also alleged that the nurse referred to the management team as “mga mangu” and “bobos” which translate into English to ‘idiot’/‘brainless’.

As part of its investigation into the allegations against the nurse manager, the nursing home interviewed 16 members of staff.

The nurse manager began working at the nursing home in July 2017 and the decision to dismiss her was made in November last year. That decision was upheld on internal appeal in January of this year.

In March of last year, the nursing home management became aware that the nurse manager had set up a Facebook page discussing care at the home.

In an email, the general manager of the nursing home told the nurse manager:

I have just heard that you have a staff Facebook/social media page discussing issues regarding care on your floor. This is a big concern from a data protection perspective and must be closed down immediately.

The nurse manager subsequently deleted the page.

Second Facebook page

However, a second page set up via Facebook Messenger called ‘Freedom Board’ was identified in September last year and the nursing home suspended the nurse manager on 29 September 2018 over allegations of gross misconduct relating to online activity.

The nursing home told the WRC that each of the allegations of wrongdoing were supported by substantial evidence.

The nursing home said that the wrongdoing of the nurse manager “imperiled its business and reputation”.

The nursing home also said that the nurse manager “failed to justify her actions or put forward any significant evidence in mitigation”.

The nurse manager argued that the sanction to dismiss was disproportionate, that her right to fair procedures was breached and alleged that the employer had gone on a fishing expedition to find reasons to dismiss her.

At the nursing home investigation meeting the nurse manager denied setting up the Facebook page.

It was claimed that originally the page was set up so staff could communicate with each other in relation to schedules or for helpful tips about care management.

The nurse manager later admitted to posting on the site.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

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Gordon Deegan

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