Care home owner used aromatherapy oils to dress serious wounds without approval - hearing told

A CARE home owner interested in alternative treatments used aromatherapy oils to dress serious wounds without the approval of a nursing team, a standards committee has been told.

Marie Eva Lourdes Mascarenhas ran St Chamond’s Nursing Home, near Prestatyn, with her husband at the time relating to five charges dating back to 2006.

At a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing in Cardiff she admitted using the oils on elderly patients’ bed sores and ulcers instead of prescribed wound dressings.

She also admitted allowing a patient to come to the home without a full care plan.

But she denies disposing of necrotic tissue into a general use bin in a patient’s room and failing to provide a pressure-relieving mattress in good, working order.

Christine McEvoy – a lead nurse reviewer with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (UHB) since 2005 – gave evidence to the hearing.

She said in June 2006 a friend of a patient at the home – called patient A – rang her anonymously expressing concern about the methods used by Mrs Mascarenhas.

Mrs McEvoy said: “She told me she was concerned Mrs Mascarenhas had used aromatherapy oils and alternative methods on patient A's wounds.

“During the review, I asked Mrs Mascarenhas why she had used alternative therapy.

“She told me she no longer followed patient A's NHS care plan because it did not work and so she used aromatherapy and spiritual healing.

“By applying aromatherapy oils she did not follow evidence-based practice and it should not be carried out on a resident that's funded by the NHS.”

The hearing was told patient A was totally immobile, in her 70s and “quite a frail lady” with a “small build”.

The NMC panel was told Mrs Mascarenhas also used the aromatherapy treatment on a separate patient – patient B – who was admitted to the home in August 2009 with a serious ulcer.

Mrs McEvoy said the treatment hadn’t been sanctioned by a multi-disciplinary nursing team as is necessary – something Mrs Mascarenhas denies.

Tracy Tate, a tissue viability nurse, who visited patient B at the home on September 28, 2009, said the patient’s pressure relieving mattress was deflated when she arrived which had the potential to worsen her injury.

The patient had a grade-four sacral ulcer – the extent of which means the sore has gone through muscle and tissue and down to the bone.

Mrs Tate said: “When I examined the mattress I found it was deflated.

“I could feel the hard part of the bed through the deflated mattress.

“I was concerned patient B was lying on the bed frame and the sacral ulcer was pressing into the hard frame.”

Mrs Tate said on examination of the wound she was “taken aback”.

Fran Whitehurst, a clinical nurse specialist in tissue viability, who also gave evidence, said Mrs Mascarenhas had asked her in a telephone conversation if she could use honey to treat the wound.

Mrs Mascarenhas has been a nurse since 1973 and a specialist district nurse since 1977, the panel heard.

The home she and her husband ran cared for a variety of residents, including those who suffering from dementia and strokes, and had a maximum of 16 residents.

Barrister James Townsend, representing Mrs Mascarenhas, said she had long-explored alternative therapies but the treatment had consent of families and she never charged the NHS for complimentary treatment.

Mr Townsend said: "This particular nursing home is one that has always held itself up as exploring alternative modes of therapy.

“There’s no evidence Mrs Mascareenhas has ever charged the NHS in terms of complimentary treatment is there?

“She wasn’t charging the NHS for it and both the patient and the family were happy with the use of that therapy and as a matter of fact, over a period of relative time, the wound appeared to be getting better rather than worse.”

The hearing continues.


Sourced from Wales Online, 26th March 2012.