A director of healthcare at a Welsh children’s hospice has denied allegations of misconduct relating to the care of a terminally ill teenager.
Jayne Saunders, who has been a registered nurse since 1978, is facing claims at a professional hearing that she failed in her duty to get consent from the Ty Hafan children’s hospice patient – referred to only as “Child S” – to be examined.
She is also alleged to have failed to give sufficient consideration to the feelings of “S” and her parents Mr and Mrs S, when it came to planning a sleepover to celebrate the patient’s 14th – and what would turn out to be her last – birthday.
Between February and April 2008 “S” was residing at the Sully-based hospice, where she was receiving end-of-life care for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, and had a fractured femur which would not heal properly due to her brittle bones.
She had her birthday sleepover after a risk assessment by the hospice staff.
Denying misconduct, Mrs Saunders told Monday’s Nursing and Midwifery Council professional conduct hearing in Cardiff that at no time was she unprofessional in her treatment of the S family.
She said the hospice had a duty of care towards the patient otherwise it would be in breach of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) conditions.
The hearing was previously told that before March 18, 2008, Mrs S had been delivering all personal care to S. On that day a review meeting was held to discuss concerns that Ty Hafan might not be discharging its duty of care towards S, because the family wanted privacy and the child was sensitive about discussions and actions relating to her body
A day later her mother raised concerns that her daughter had a “numb butt” and had to convince the child to allow a nurse to examine her for pressure sores.
On the following day – March 20 – the family was informed of a possible breach of HIW regulations. It was claimed that if S was not regularly assessed by hospice staff, the hospice could close.
Mrs Saunders said: “We were told we could become in breach of regulations, we did not have access to the room, and also due to Mr S’s behaviour.
“There were also controlled drugs in the room and we were not able to check those controlled drugs or any other medication in situ.”
Mrs Saunders also claimed she felt intimidated by Mr S, and added that two nurses had reported to her that he had shouted at them when they had been invited into the room by Mrs S.
“It was the day that we were discussing S’s sleepover. I told Mr S that I was trying to do my best and he wouldn’t listen,” Mrs Saunders told the hearing.
“I don’t know if I felt frightened or threatened. But he wouldn’t listen to me.”
The hearing was previously told of claims that Mrs Saunders had not wanted a sleepover to take place and that she was reportedly “waving her hands around” and saying she “couldn’t have 14-year-old girls running up and down the corridor” or words to that effect. She was also claimed to have “rolled her eyes” at Mr S, which she denies.
Mrs Saunders denies making the statement about 14-year-old girls in the corridor and added: “It would have been physically impossible for me to wave my hands around in the air as I had been off sick with a back problem.”
Mrs Saunders added: “The Ss were very intelligent people who were very knowledgeable about the care of their child and they made it very clear that they were experts in matters of competency .
“They didn’t like to have anyone say ‘no’ to them, or not to give them an immediate ‘yes’.
“So even if it was an ‘I’ll try and find out’ and ‘here’s an alternative,’ Mr S, in particular could become quite intimidating.”
The hearing continues.