Nursing home worker ‘upset priests and patients’ with abuse claims

John Carroll denies he sought €110,000 to leave religious-run home at employment tribunal hearing

A maintenance worker at a religious-run nursing home in Kimmage had been upsetting priests and patients with allegations of elder abuse before he left the role, a tribunal has heard.

The claims were made during the second and final day of hearings for a constructive dismissal case taken by John Carroll against the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, or the Spiritans as they are more commonly known, at an Employment Appeals Tribunal.

In his evidence at Wednesday's hearing, Gary Lyons, property and finance manager of the nursing home, said the allegation of staff abuse of a resident raised by Mr Carroll in January 2014 was "not as serious as what was being made out", and was treated as a matter of professional misconduct.

At an earlier hearing Mr Carroll claimed to have witnessed an unnamed carer verbally abusing and smacking the arms of an elderly male resident.

Mr Carroll further stated he believed his complaint had not been taken seriously by management, that he was later “victimised” and bullied as a result of blowing the whistle and so was left with no alternative but to ultimately leave his employment.

Addressing the tribunal, Mr Lyons said despite the opening of an investigation into the abuse allegation by the home and the Health Information and Quality Authority Mr Carroll “was continuing to raise this issue with patients in the nursing home and this was causing a lot of difficulty.”

Legal representatives for the nursing home also said Mr Carroll was told by the healthcare manager to stop talking to the resident priests about the claims “as he was upsetting them”.

Mr Carroll countered that the priests were approaching him about the issue.

Mr Lyons described his former employee as “a great worker” whom he repeatedly asked to take part in an internal investigation into the bullying claims, but he said Mr Carroll “disengaged” from the process shortly after its establishment as he had lost faith in it.

The tribunal was read out a letter written by Mr Carroll’s solicitor a fortnight after a November 2014 investigation meeting between himself and management of the home that described the grievance process as “ineffective”, “blatantly biased”, “a whitewash” and “a witch-hunt”.

In his own evidence Mr Lyons, who attended that meeting, said Mr Carroll was treated with the “utmost courtesy” and had agreed he was being given a fair internal hearing before he chose to disengage with the process and not attend a follow-up meeting in December 2014.

Prior to resigning in May 2015 Mr Lyons alleged Mr Carroll requested the company either sack the carer at the centre of the abuse claims or the home’s healthcare manager.

After this was refused, he said Mr Carroll asked for a payment of €110,000 to “go first”.

“Mr Carroll stated that he wanted €110,000 to go, that was his statement,” said Mr Lyons.

This version of events was disputed by Mr Carroll, who said the campus manager for the home made an initial offer of a sum of money as an incentive for him to amicably conclude his employment with the company, but that this was rejected.

Mr Carroll informed the tribunal he has resumed full-time employment elsewhere but is seeking €26,000 in damages from the home.

The tribunal is expected to make its final decision on the case in the coming months.