An assistant nurse has had an assault charge against her dismissed, after the magistrate said he believed the accused was genuinely trying to help the resident.
Chancal Arokianathan had been working as a carer for 30 years, and up until the incident had an “unblemished record”, according to a report by the ABC.
Just before Christmas last year, Ms Arokianathan was helping a 73-year-old resident shower at a nursing home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. While showering her, Ms Arokianathan, 67, used a plastic bag to tie the woman’s leg to a chair, causing bruising.
Ms Arokianathan told Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court the woman was slipping and she was trying to hold her while at the same time reaching for the button to call for help.
But nobody came, and Ms Arokianathan and the resident were left alone due to the fact that a second carer, supposed to be helping, had left the room.
“I had to secure her leg so she’s sitting up, so I could finish the shower,” Ms Arokianathan told Downing Centre Local Court.
“I think I did the best to save her falling from the chair.”
“She was slipping, so I had to do it,” she said.
Ms Arokianathan pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Sadly, the resident died earlier this year from causes unrelated to the matter.
In a video recording heard in court, the resident was unhappy about having her leg tied to the chair. “I said, ‘I’m not a dog. I’m not a dog … you hurt me’,” she said in the video.
Ms Arokianathan’s lawyer, Paul McGirr, told the court the resident was taking medication that made her bruise more easily. He said Ms Arokianathan had an “unblemished” record over her 30-year career.
The court also heard Ms Arokianathan was responsible for seven patients that day.
Ms Arokianathan told the court she’d informed the home’s management the shower was “not safe” but they had done nothing about it.
Magistrate Michael Barko dismissed the charge.
According to the ABC report, he said, “I’m satisfied there’s a reasonable possibility that when the defendant tied the complainant’s leg to the chair, she did so because she honestly and genuinely believed it was necessary and appropriate in the circumstances.”
It appears that Ms Arokianathan was doing the best she could under difficult circumstances. The question remains, why was she left alone with the resident when two carers could have been performing the shower? Another matter to consider is the feasibility of Ms Arokianathan, an older woman herself, performing the physically demanding task of caring for seven patients in one day.