A matron accused of intimidating staff and talking about her sex life in front of colleagues was a “brilliant” nurse, who was “very loving and protective” towards the elderly residents at the care home where she worked, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
Sharon Talbot was described by a former colleague as a “really good” clinician who was “really, really kind” to the elderly residents of Asheborough House Care Centre in Saltash, Cornwall.
Darrell Montero, a nurse who has since left the home, told a hearing of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in central London that Ms Talbot “probably didn’t get the support that she needed” in carrying out the job of matron at the centre.
“She was very loving towards the residents, very protective over them”
“I felt Sharon was a really brilliant clinical nurse, I felt Asheborough House was a big thing to take on and to try and manage. Probably, she didn’t get enough support that she needed and I had a good working relationship with her,” Ms Montero told the NMC conduct and competence committee.
She added: “She was actually really, really kind to the residents, she was very loving towards the residents, very protective over them.”
The evidence, given by phone to the hearing by Ms Montero, comes after members heard allegations that Ms Talbot had “belittled” and “intimidated” staff at the home.
One healthcare assistant described Ms Talbot as “Gaddafi” and told the NMC that staff were “absolutely petrified” of her.
Ms Montero was asked if she stood by answers she gave to questions put to her by Caroline Murphy, who interviewed staff after Ms Talbot resigned from the home in December 2011.
Fitness to practise panel chair Andrew Gell said: “On January 10 2012 in answer to questions that Caroline Murphy put, you used phrases such as “had no people skills, totally unprofessional” if you had answered these same questions, weeks, or months later in time, or now, if you answered them now, would you make the same answers?”
Ms Montero replied. “Yes, I would.”
Ms Talbot, who started work at the home in May 2010, has denied all the charges against her including allegations of acting in an unprofessional manner towards staff, behaving abusively, and intimidating and undermining staff members.
The allegations include a claim that she brought a sex toy into work and that she had revealed her underwear and spoke about her sex life on “numerous occasions” in the presence of staff at the home.
Ms Talbot failed to attend an end-of-life meeting with a dementia specialist at the home as she had decided to “go fishing instead”, it was also alleged.
But Tim Brown, defending Ms Talbot, said she had gone fishing with her partner and his cousins and had brought 20 mackerel back to the home, which had been cooked and served to residents.
Ms Montero told the NMC panel: “I didn’t think that Sharon was, in my opinion, cut out to be manager of Asheborough House.
“That was because it was a difficult place to manage or she didn’t have the experience to manage that home. I don’t find any fault with her as a nurse.
“She didn’t do anything that I felt was bad − in fact, from what I have seen, she was a good nurse. I do not think Sharon’s character was managerial material.”
“Any grievances raised were perceived as a personal attack by the registrant”
Neil Jeffs, acting for the NMC, told the hearing on Monday that a letter signed by 22 staff members at the home and outlining allegations against Ms Talbot had been sent to Ms Murphy in December 2011.
“The letter … includes allegations of constant belittling of staff, staff feeling intimidated and undermined, professional opinions of staff being disregarded to suit the needs of the registrant, staff working under a threat of fear and reprisals, a fear of approaching the registrant for advice and support and the feeling that any grievances raised were perceived as a personal attack by the registrant,” he said.
Ms Murphy interviewed 28 members of staff “all of which spoke about the registrant’s unprofessional behaviour”, he said.