NAPE/AFSCME Member Sarah Wilkins is a Registered Nurse at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home in Bellevue. This spring, Sarah was shocked when she was placed on investigatory suspension for allegedly forcing care upon an ENVH Resident by making them go to the bathroom. When she was disciplined with a 5-day unpaid suspension, she reached out to NAPE right away for help.
The allegation of forced care was not true. Sarah has worked with this particular resident in the dementia unit for over a year, and knew her and her care needs very well. From previous experiences with the resident, Sarah knew that this member needs visual cues to remind her of her care needs and can become agitated and aggressive towards others when her needs are not met.
On the day of the alleged incident, the resident became violent towards other members playing a card game. Sarah first separated the members to prevent injuries, and then helped the resident to her walker. Sarah had been working the unit all day, and knew this member had not used the restroom the entire time she’d been there. She suspected that this care need not being met was more than likely the reason the member had lashed out at others. Sarah then guided the member on her walker towards the restroom. She held the door open and turned on the light so the member could see inside. The member did not go in, and instead walked over to a couch nearby. After Sarah continued with verbal cues, the resident went into the bathroom on her own and was no longer upset.
With this important context provided by Sarah, it is clear that she did not force care upon the ENVH member, and there was no just cause for discipline on this incident. A grievance was soon filed on her behalf. After reviewing video evidence of the incident and hearing testimony from witnesses, a Hearing Officer determined that there was no forced care and that there was no just cause for discipline. ENVH was ordered to remove the discipline from Sarah’s personnel file and pay her back wages for the days she had been suspended.
If you find yourself in a situation that might lead to disciplinary action, it is your responsibility to ask for union representation. Please contact us right away for assistance if you find yourself in this situation.