An experienced social worker has been officially warned about her conduct after placing a vulnerable adult service user at risk of harm.
Claire Long, who worked for Lewisham Council, London, failed to properly assess and arrange care for a man known as Mr GT before going on holiday, a General Social Care Council conduct committee found.
Long, who received an 18-month admonishment for misconduct, was told that a care agency had called at his home on three occasions in the run up to Christmas 2006 – but he had not responded.
Yet Long, a senior social worker with more than 20 years of experience, did not alert her manager to the problem or give the matter high priority,
Instead she suggested the care agency carry out a fourth and fifth visit, neither of which resulted in a response. Finally Long suggested the agency leave a note at Mr GT’s home because he was hard of hearing.
However, when the agency informed her on 22 December that there had still been no reply and it had not been possible to leave a note, Long did not visit Mr GT’s home or contact his friends, relatives, neighbours or the police.
Long subsequently went on annual leave from 23 December without providing a handover note about Mr GT to her manager or colleagues. This had placed a vulnerable service user at risk of significant harm, the committee found.
Long was not present at the hearing but had previously admitted several facts in the case.
In deciding on an appropriate sanction the conduct committee took into account mitigating factors such as Long’s genuine expression of remorse, evidence that she had shown insight into her failings and her previous “impeccable” history.
It also noted a “disorganised and unsupportive” working environment at the council at the time of the incident in 2006.
Lewisham’s adult social care services were rated as “performing well” overall in the Care Quality Commission’s 2009 annual performance assessment.
A spokesperson for Lewisham Council said Long left the authority in 2007 but declined to comment on whether she resigned or was dismissed.