Dec 10, 2021

Aged care nurse’s registration cancelled after financially exploiting a resident of $100,000

Nurse spends residents money

From June 2014 to February 2016, Nithin Cherian was working as a registered nurse at a Melbourne aged care home when he began caring for the resident, known as CD, who was then in her mid-70s, according to a report in The Age.

During that time, Cherian began taking CD to appointments outside of working hours.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal members, Mary Archibald and Pamela Barry, and senior member, John Billings, noted in a jointly written decision that Cherian was “over-involved” with the resident.

Cherian took CD to lunch, shopping and on “banking trips”.

When they were together, Cherian discussed his personal and financial affairs with CD, and asked her for cash or to pay his expenses and the expenses of close family members. 

Cherian sometimes used CD’s ATM card and internet banking to withdraw funds for his personal use. 

CD also paid education expenses for Cherian’s close relatives, flights and admission to the ICC Cricket World Cup.

From 2016, CD began trying to recover the money, even after Cherian resigned from the home and was working elsewhere.

When Cherian discovered CD had made a complaint against him, he began calling her, at times making multiple calls a day, and once calling in the middle of the night. He promised to repay the money, but never did.

She said it was up to Cherian to recognise and manage the “power differential” between himself and CD.

When Cherian discovered CD had made a complaint, Potter said he became “coercise and intimidating, which is in direct conflict with the goal of achieving wellbeing”.

Cherian has admitted to all the allegations.

Against nursing principles

Archibald, Barry and Billings noted that Cherian failed to comply with nursing codes and guides, which state that “nurses actively preserve the dignity of people through practised kindness and respect for the vulnerability and powerlessness of people in their care”. 

“Nurses’ primary responsibility is to provide safe and competent nursing care. 

“They recognise their professional position and do not accept gifts or benefits that could be viewed as a means of securing their influence or favour.”

They noted that Cherian’s conduct was “unprofessional” and “substantially below the standard reasonably expected of a registered health practitioner” in more than one instance.

The Tribunal concluded that Cherian should have his registration cancelled and be disqualified from nursing until 2024.

The Tribunal noted that PCAs are not registered or regulated under any legislative scheme and therefore can not be banned for that specific role, however, they can be banned from providing “health services”.

A case of elder abuse

The Tribunal confirmed that Cherian’s actions were an example of ‘elder abuse’, which is defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”. 

They noted that elder abuse can be financial, physical, psychological or sexual and has “serious consequences for individuals”.

The Tribunal said the case “illustrates the need for vigilance on the part of employers, managers and co-workers in residential aged care settings in order to safeguard vulnerable elderly residents against abuse, neglect or exploitation”. 

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  1. What an absolutely disgraceful man.

    He should be deregistered until he has repaid, in total CD.

    And he should be ‘supervised’ when he returns to Nursing.

  2. Elder abuse is common. Who takes you seriously when your family member assaults you ? What do you do when the family member who you appointed as your Guardian and POA gets an ABN number and starts to pay himself as a ‘Tradesman’ for maintenance that he was supposed to do at minimal cost ? The simple answer is nothing. Fraud is hard to detect if it goes through a shelf company. My mother was defrauded by a partner at a Law firm in Melbourne and he went to jail but that was only after he had defrauded scores of vulnerable elders. The Guardianship Act needs to be changed to stop people being both the Guardian and the POA at the same time. VicPol also needs to start taking family violence seriously so that men who use manipulation, coercion and violence to get what they want can be better managed by the justice system.

  3. It appears the victim did not get their money back. Is that right? If not that shows once again the failure of disciplinary proceedings are not a substitute for legal proceedings for recovery of money in such circumstances.

  4. It is unclear in this article if this person is a nurse or carer. Either way, his behaviour is despicable.
    If he is a carer, I find it offensive that the headline calls him a nurse. It is an offence to call someone a nurse or claim to be one if you are not.
    It is about time carers be required to be registered with AHPRA so they can be regulated properly and banned from caring if required.

      1. Not quite correct… He was a PCA, not a nurse and thus not registered with AHPRA.
        The quote from the article says: “He will also be prohibited from working as a personal care attendant in any health service until 2024.
        The Tribunal noted that PCAs are not registered or regulated under any legislative scheme and therefore can not be banned for that specific role, however, they can be banned from providing “health services”.”

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