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Care home manager faces hearing over use of social media


A convent nurse trawled social networking sites looking for embarrassing stories about the elderly nuns she was looking after, a professional hearing has been told.

Marie Margaret Sloan was the care manager of the Sisters of Loreto’s North Wales branch for four years before being sacked in 2012.

The facility, a former school turned religious retreat, offers residential places for up to 20 sisters.

Care bosses referred her to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) following a string of allegations - including that she deliberately locked a staff member in a room with a dead body and then later “smuggled” the deceased woman’s prescriptions medicine abroad.

An NMC fitness to practise hearing in Cardiff was told Ms Sloan showed no respect to the frail old ladies under her care - many of whom were in their 80s and 90s.

Care assistant and cook Janet Starr told a panel the registrant spent ages on the computer looking for dirt on the Sisters - some of whom had been former teachers at the former school in Llandudno.

She said: “Marie was always on Facebook playing games or contacting ex-pupils of the school and asking them about what the Sisters were like when they were teachers.

“Marie found several comments amusing and she would tell other people…’You’ve got to see what people are saying about the Sisters’.

“She also found a picture online about an elderly woman with breast implants and joked about how it looked like one of the Sisters.

“It was just terrible. She was supposed to be protecting these ladies, but she didn’t treat them with any respect at all.”

Ms Sloane faces four charges - and 15 allegations - as part the fitness to practise proceedings.

Among them include claims she mismanaged medication of patients.

A panel was told a Sister had been taking someone else’s medication for days - and when the error came to light it was not recorded.

Mrs Starr backed up the account given by housekeeper Luci Watson that medication was often found lying around in the staff room or discarded on the floor.

The hearing was also told following the death of a lady, referred to as Patient A, Ms Sloan locked a laundry worker in the room with the body for “quite some time”.

“After Patient A had died her medication was supposed to have been stopped,” added Mrs Starr. “But it wasn’t cancelled and the prescriptions kept arriving.

“Marie told me she had hundreds of tablets belonging to Patient A and how she was planning to take them to South Africa to give to her ill brother-in-law. She said that the medication was too expensive out there and he couldn’t afford it.

“I told her that was illegal and drug smuggling and she should take them back to the chemists - but she didn’t seem to care. I don’t know whether she regarded me as too thick to tell anyone about it.”

Mrs Starr said when Ms Sloan returned home the registrant spoke freely of how she panicked when she could not see her suitcase at an airport baggage carousel.

She also told the NMC hearing the registrant would often say the nurses were “off their heads” and “nuts” - and had turned the convent from a peaceful retreat for the Sisters into a place of chaos.

“One of the carers came into work drunk and I had to send her home for everyone’s safety,” said Mrs Starr.

“I phoned Marie about it but her reply was: ‘I can’t do anything about it’.

“Another time I told her about how I had heard a staff member saying she wanted to punch a colleague in the face. She didn’t seem to care and said: ‘Well, I’d quite like to punch her in the face too’.

“The convent was supposed to be a holy place and serene.

“But it was like Marie forgot where she was and who she was dealing with.”

Mrs Starr, who has worked at the convent for 16 years, said she felt particularly disappointed at how poor things had got given Ms Sloan’s appointment was supposed to drive up standards.


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Readers' comments (4)

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  • There are always problems with hearsay evidence whose occasional malevolence is not uncommonly borne of any kind of previous dispute or resented directive. What is perhaps beyond dispute is that the manager of a residential home does not achieve the position via previous incompetence and malpractice. Such middle management can present appalling scenarios for eager-to-see-change managers finding themselves up against established practice cultures particularly if the manager lacks support from above (and I'm not referring to God in this case). It is very important to consider such a case as a whole and not in parts

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  • Nurses don't stand a chance working in this kind of environment as you're often the only qualified on duty and if you attempt to restrict carers fag breaks or try to assert any kind of authority or implement best practice you're met with a tirade of abuse, false allegations and worse.

    This manager may not have been fit to hold her position, but the motives of Madame Starr need to be investigated further.

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  • If the allegations are true, I feel very sorry for the frail old ladies who should have been respected and cared for in a compassionate and safe environment.

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