Aged carers face-off in court over Facebook defamation claim
A DARLING Downs health professional has defended her treatment of seriously ill elderly residents at the aged care facility where she works.
Maxine Noone is suing Bundaberg aged care advocate Heather Mansell-Brown for defamation over a series of Facebook posts published in 2017.
The posts were published on Ms Mansell-Brown's page, which had about 167 followers.
The posts implied there was a "total lack of discernment and negligence" at the Millmerran Centenary Retirement Village where Ms Noone was the clinical care manager and director of nursing.
The posts also made allegations about bullying of staff, misuse of drugs and that Ms Noone drank alcohol while at work.
Ms Noone and Ms Mansell-Brown were in Brisbane District Court on Wednesday for the second day of a three-day non-jury trial before Judge Paul Smith.
Under cross-examination from Ms Mansell-Brown's legal counsel, Ms Noone was forced to relive the traumatic death of a 93-year-old woman who chose to forgo food and water in order to hasten her death.
Ms Noone rejected the allegation that she and other staff at the care facility neglected the female patient, who suffered complications from diabetes and was receiving end-of-life care.
The patient died with a severe pressure sore but Ms Noone said the sore was treated as directed by doctors and that it was impossible to prevent or to make better.
"It (the sore) was deteriorating further due to her organs shutting down," Ms Noone said.
"We took all precautions possible - the Toowoomba Hospital was in close contact with us all the time.
"There was nothing we could do to prevent her from dying - we were trying to give her food and fluids but she was able to decide that she did not wish to eat or drink and she would not open her mouth for the food.
"Her family was aware of that decision."
Ms Noone's son - a former Rockhampton doctor now based in Launceston - told the court his mother had suffered greatly as a result of the Facebook posts.
"It has been quite devastating for her personally," Dr Tim Noone said.
"When talking about it she gets teary, she is withdrawn, doesn't take much joy in her work or her personal life anymore."
Millmerran Centenary Retirement Village board member Tim Antonio also gave evidence on Wednesday.
He said the board had every confidence in Ms Noone.
"Her reputation prior to all the Facebook posts and the articles in the paper was very good," he said.
"Her reputation with us is still very good."
Toowoomba Chronicle journalist Matthew Newton is due to give evidence on Thursday.
He wrote a series of stories highlighting complaints that were levelled at the village.
None of those complaints was upheld, Ms Noone told the court.