A Queensland nurse admitted to putting a patient’s mental health at risk by engaging in an inappropriate relationship that involved sleeping together in a tent.
Kandice Jolley was working at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital as a young 23-year-old enrolled nurse in the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Service in 2014 when she first met the patient known as “DM”.
The patient had a history of mental illness and PTSD, and in November 2015, Ms Jolley became part of his treatment plan.
After his discharge that month, Ms Jolley accepted a Facebook friend request from her patient and gave him her mobile number.
A Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal hearing delivered this month detailed how the pair met several times while DM was in and out of admissions.
On one occasion on December 1, 2015, Ms Jolley admitted to sending a text message to
DM asking him to have coffee with her while he was on his two-hour release from hospital.
Later that month the pair went away together to Pottsville in northern New South Wales “where they slept in the back of DM’s car and slept together in a tent, talked about their relationship and kissed”.
The tribunal found the relationship had progressed to the extent of “hugging, kissing and sleeping in the same bed together including laying naked in bed together”.
However, Ms Jolley denied there was any sex and said any attempts by DM to do so were not consensual.
The tribunal was told how on one occasion on December 15, 2015, the patient stayed at Ms Jolley’s house and tried to put his mouth on her genitals.
“In the statement of agreed facts, it is accepted that Ms Jolley was an unwilling recipient of
this sexual contact and that Ms Jolley had requested that DM stop and DM did stop,” the finding read.
The tribunal outlined how Ms Jolley attempted to block DM on Facebook, but when he found out, he threatened to tell her employer about their relationship.
She told the tribunal he told her words to the effect of, “You’ll lose your job. I will wreck your career.”
On April 27, 2016 she woke to five missed calls from a private number and had a message on Facebook from someone saying: “I hope you lose your job when they find out. You’ll lose your job when they find out.”
Ms Jolley admitted that during the course of their relationship she disclosed confidential information about other patients at the hospital to DM, but explained that she did so on the basis that he already knew the patients.
She agreed she behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct.
“The conduct involved in this case is serious and must be denounced,” the tribunal found.
The tribunal was told to take into account Ms Jolley’s young age and the fact she was “highly emotional, sleep-deprived and suffering from considerable stress and anxiety because she feared losing her job and her career”.
It considered she had demonstrated remorse and insight into her wrongdoing and had sought the help of a psychologist to deal with the stress that came from with the incident.
She was also diagnosed with depression as a result.
The tribunal concluded that given Ms Jolley’s young age and the steps she took after the conduct, it did not consider a period of suspension necessary.
“The practitioner is clearly now aware of the seriousness of violation of professional boundaries and is unlikely to act in the same way again,” the finding read.
“The importance of maintaining professional boundaries is emphasised by these proceedings, and practitioners will by this decision be aware of the sanctions that may follow should they digress.”