Carer's casino error kept quiet

By Kathryn Powley, Kathryn Powley

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A health trust whose worker let a dementia patient wander off while she was gambling in SkyCity Casino didn't report the incident to health authorities until confronted.

Waitemata District Health Board learned of the incident only after the Herald on Sunday revealed what had gone on: a caregiver at Rodney North Harbour Health Trust had taken a 62-year-old patient on an outing to the casino, then lost her while playing pokies in the members-only Diamond Room.

Fortunately, the patient managed to catch a bus back to her North Shore home where she was reunited with her husband.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show the care worker was chatting to a friend and didn't notice Marie Palman leave.

That detail was only discovered after the Waitemata District Health Board pushed the trust for a full account of the March 5 incident.

A frustrated tone is evident in the emails between the two organisations. After two attempts to outline what happened and what action was taken against the worker - verbal and written warnings and having to work under supervision - the trust's chief executive, Wendy Hawkings, replied to the request for more details with: "We feel your further request for additional specific information about the incident is unwarranted and unnecessary."

The health board's group funding manager, Tim Wood, responded: "It is of concern that you feel that an incident of this nature, where a client with dementia was left unattended and lost in the CBD, was not an issue that needed to be reported."

He said the trust lacked an understanding of its obligations to provide appropriate care.

However, the trust finally provided a detailed response and the health board said the matter was closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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