STAFF shortages and the pressures of working in 'a highly stressful environment' were raised in court today by a care worker accused of assaulting a resident at the Áras Attracta home in Swinford.
Joan Walsh, a staff nurse, who pleads not guilty to assaulting an elderly woman in her care by slapping her on the hand, told Judge Mary Devins at a special court sitting she found conditions very stressful in Bungalow 3 of the Áras complex and had requested a 30-hour working roster.
However, this was not available due to staff shortages.
Walsh told the court she regretted the slap incident – which involved a 75-year-old with intellectual difficulties - but did not recall it happening.
"It was an instant reaction, not something I am proud of," the accused stated.
During cross examination by Mr. Patrick Reynolds, counsel for the State, the 42-year-old, who has an address at Carrowilkeen, Curry, Co. Sligo, said she did not consider her action constituted assault.
Counsel for Walsh, Keith O’Grady, told the court the incident around 7.50 pm on November 14, 2015, had occurred ten minutes prior to the accused completing a 12-hour shift.
"A teacher would not be required to teach more than six or seven hours," Mr. O’Grady submitted.
He added: "If a truck driver tried to work 12 hours he or she would be prosecuted."
Evidence was also concluded today in the hearing of a case against Kathleen King (56), Knockshanbally, Straide, Foxford, who denies assaulting a 66-year-old non verbal resident known as Miss C.
King was shown on video pushing Miss C onto a chair before hitting her with a piece of paper she was holding in her hand.
King, who denies assault, said it had been a spontaneous reaction to keep Miss C from falling onto the ground as there were concerns about her breaking a hip.
"It was poor judgement, bad practice," the defendant said. "There was no malice. It was just an instantaneous reaction. The camera can’t show what was in my head. I just wanted to keep the woman safe."
Today Judge Devins completed the hearing of evidence against four care workers accused of assaulting Aras residents – named for legal reasons as Miss A, Miss B and Miss C.
Verdicts in the cases against Walsh and King, as well as two others, Pat McLoughlin (56), Mayfield, Claremorris, and Christina Delaney (35), Seefin, Lissatava, Hollymount, are to be delivered by Judge Devins at a later date.
The case against an agency nurse, Anna Ywunong Botsimbo (34), Lowpark Avenue, Charlestown,will now be heard in full by a different Judge.
Judge Devins said the court was compromised from hearing further evidence against Ms. Botsimbo because of details of a garda memo which had been outlined to the court on the previous day.