Case study 1 – Under-involvement/lack of care

Mary is an enrolled nurse working in residential aged care.

Mary’s colleagues had noticed that the residents in Mary’s care were looking uncared for over several shifts and that wet sheets were unchanged and urine bottles not emptied. Mary was also spending a lot of time at the nurses’ station while her residents were left unattended. Mary’s manager raised the issues that both she and her colleagues had noticed with Mary. 

Applying the Code of Conduct for nurses:

The code describes the principles of professional behaviour that guide safe practice, and clearly outlines the conduct expected of nurses by their colleagues and the broader community. 

  • Look through the principles in the Code of Conduct.  Which principles apply to this case, and why? 


After her discussion with the manager, Mary understood that her recent conduct had fallen short of what was needed by the residents and expected by her manager and colleagues. 

She told her manager that she had been going through a difficult time personally and this had affected her work. Mary and her manager agreed on a performance plan to support her to improve her practice with her residents, including regular check-ins with her manager for the next three months. Mary agreed to contact Nurse & Midwife Support, the health support service, for help with her personal difficulties. 

While Mary’s conduct fell below the standard expected in the Code of conduct for nurses, and care of the residents may have been affected, it was appropriate to be addressed by her manager within her workplace. 

If Mary’s conduct does not improve during her performance plan or deteriorates further directly affecting patient safety, it may be necessary to notify the NMBA.

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