The case of a long-time nurse who spat on an aged care resident demonstrates the type of behaviour that undermines public confidence in the profession, a tribunal says.
The nurse of three decades, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was the associate nurse unit manager on shift at an aged care home in 2019 when she was warned the resident had a tendency to spit.
While the nurse was doing medication rounds, the resident - who had dementia - spat at her twice, with the nurse claiming some of the spittle landed in her mouth.
The nurse spat back at the resident's face, taking a moment beforehand to "gather saliva" in her mouth. She said words to the effect of, "maybe this is how we should deal with them", the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found.
The nurse went into a room where two other residents and another enrolled nurse were, and said loud enough for everyone to hear: "That f***ing little c*** spat in my face."
The "vulgar" or inappropriate language was directed towards junior staff who the nurse was responsible for supervising, the tribunal found.
The nurse's actions amounted to professional misconduct, and were the type that undermined the public's confidence in the nursing profession, tribunal members said.
"Persons in the resident's position cannot complain or defend themselves from such conduct," the members said in a decision published on Wednesday.
"The treatment of persons in aged care and elder abuse is a sensitive issue and vulnerable people need to be protected.
"The aged care facility is their home where they should feel safe and protected."
The nurse's comments concerned the tribunal members partly because they demonstrated an unacceptable attitude towards residents, the members said.
It was even more important for residents to be treated with empathy and respect when they had dementia and generally couldn't speak for themselves, they said.
The tribunal cancelled the nurse's registration for two years, during which time she is prohibited from providing health services to anyone.