An aged care resident with dementia who engaged in doll therapy was found to have experienced “great mental distress” when care staff smashed her dolls against a dining room table.
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) confirmed that the 85-year-old woman was tormented at the Junee Multipurpose Service facility, just outside of Wagga Wagga, when two aged care staff bashed her therapy doll in 2021.
ABC News reported that the NSW watchdog ruled that then-nursing assistant, Elizabeth Daniher, instigated and encouraged her colleague to slam the doll’s head over a dining room table in front of the resident. An unnamed Registered and Enrolled nurse is also being investigated.
HCCC found that the carers knew the woman had an emotional connection with the doll and believed it to be a real baby. The Commission stated that the situation impacted the woman’s emotional and mental well-being, causing her “great mental distress”.
Witness statements allege that the carers were laughing at the time, despite the resident crying out for them to stop.
An employee at the facility claimed she found the distressed resident in the dining room that night where she was checking that the “babies”, or dolls, were safe.
HCCC’s Executive Director, Tony Kofkin, said Ms Daniher did not provide health services in a safe way.
“The commission … considers that Ms Daniher poses a risk to the health and safety of members of the public,” he said.
Ms Daniher no longer works at the facility and has been banned from providing any health services for at least three months. She must also complete an elder abuse course, reflect on her practice and undergo a risk assessment before returning to care.