By Gavin Mackintosh-
A social worker who left children at risk by failing to update records has been sanctioned by the Health and Care professional Services argued that a recording backlog had become “disabling” has been sanctioned by the Health And Care Professions Council .
A fitness to practice panel sanctioned the social worker to an 18-month conditions of practice order- a sanction not high enough to reflect her failings.
The sanction comes after the experienced social worker admitted the allegations in relation to 15 service users, arguing that the council’s record management system and a lack of time contributed to her failings. However, the panel rejected her explanations
The panel was told by the social worker’s team manager that she “had a high level of ability but that she chose to prioritise contact over recording”. As usual, the woman’s identity was withheld- a custom maintained not to deter others from taking on the much needed profession in which many social workers have in the past year and a half been found falling short of expected standards.
With a caseload of approximately twenty cases spread over a 4 day a week period, the woman’s workload was lower than would be expected of a social worker at her level, stating that ”several cases were ready for closure or settled cases.” In reality, the social worker was suffering from psychological issues, contributed mainly by the fact a woman placed to mentor her after being promoted, had previously been mentored by her. She said she felt ”humiliated” by the experience of being mentored by someone she had mentored. Promotion in social services is given after social workers demonstrate a high level of professional capability, but placing a social worker to mentor another previously under them is very bad judgment. The psychological element of shame and humiliation should be professionally considered, social services bosses failed in this respect.
The manager also told the panel that the social worker handled criticism badly and took it “too personally”. Criticism is something many professionals handle badly, but quality professionals must respond to constructive criticism with the right spirit.
She claimed to have been overburdened, adding that an internal capability process had “damaged her confidence and made her feel that she was under constant scrutiny”. Being under scrutiny does not justify incompetence. Her ridiculous and unprofessional excuse did her no favours in the hearing. An insider from the H.C.PC Council told The Eye Of Media.Com that ”more was expected from a social worker of her level. There are channels for aggrieved social workers to express their concerns, but breaching professional codes falls under professional misconduct”. The social worker also claimed to have “struggled” with the computerised recording system , but inexcusably failed to attend reflective practice sessions arranged for her by her manager.
The panel went further to conclude that her “persistent and regular” failure to maintain and update case summaries and care plans in a timely manner, and to undertake and record statutory visits, placed young service users at risk of harm.
In one striking case, case, a teenager referred to children’s services after being assaulted by his stepfather was not updated on the records despite the “high risk” to the child for four months. This was terribly bad and disgraceful, undermining the risk to the teenager in question.
On top of all her failings, the social worker failed to load completed statutory visits, visits that were not timely or recorded as required as part of her job description.
The panel also noted that the registrant’s manager gave her more than enough time and regular opportunities to rectify her deficiencies, but she failed to make the necessary improvements.”
“Failure to maintain or to undertake these basic safeguarding duties would be regarded as deplorable by fellow practitioners, the panel stated.
It said there needed to be conditions on her practice to ensure public confidence in her role.
The social worker is now required to propose and create a development plan to address her deficiencies in record keeping and time management, as part of her order by the panel. Her psychological issues may become more pronounced as a consequence, as she will be under further monitoring for the next year and a half.
The Eye Of Media.Com believe the length of the sanction is too long, but the severity of her punishment too ,light. It would be far better if she were fined and scrutinised for a period far less than 18 months.