The elderly are some of the most vulnerable people in the community. Because of cognitive decline, mobility issues and overall frailness, they become easy targets for people to take advantage of.
And when an older person is in care, it would be expected that they would be safe with the staff caring for them. In an ideal world, they would be cared for as if they were with their own family.
Despite that, there are still situations, here and there, of residents being victims of abuse in aged care – and in this case, financial abuse.
One nurse, at a Hervey Bay retirement village, has been jailed earlier this week for stealing $23,700 from an 81 year old resident.
Danielle Louise Skobe reportedly took the resident’s credit card and withdrew cash over a two-month period last year.
Police prosecutor Sonia Edwards explained that the elderly resident kept her bank card and along with her PIN in her purse.
She kept her purse next her to her bed – making it was easy for Skobe to repeatedly steal and return the card.
“[Skobe] was never given permission to use the bank card to withdraw cash,” Snr Const Edwards said.
“She used the card 29 times, and withdrew an amount of $23,700 from the victim’s account.”
The police were notified when the elderly woman’s son noticed the unaccountable transactions.
Skobe’s defence lawyer explained that his client was struggling financially, and that she felt desperate and helpless.
He claimed that Skobe has tried to find other legitimate ways to earn more money, including attempts to pick up extra shifts, but when that wasn’t enough, it led to her making bad choices and committing her crime.
“She accepts it was a very poor decision,” Mr Isles said.
She pleaded guilty in a Hervey Bay Magistrates Court, and sobbed as her verdict was served.
Skobe had been a practicing nurse for more than ten years, but now will not be allowed to work in the industry again.
Despite having no criminal history, the Magistrate said that jail time was the “only option” for her crime.
Skobe was sentenced to two years in jail, an is applicable for parole 17th April.
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