A residential child care worker who befriended a young service user’s mother on Facebook, socialised with the family and stayed the night at their house has been struck off.
Anne Lochrie was allocated as the key worker for a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, between May and September 2009.
The teenager had a background of alcohol and substance abuse, which had led to offending behaviour in the past, the Scottish Social Services Council’s conduct sub-committee heard.
After her professional relationship with the boy ended in September 2009, Lochrie, whose town of employment is listed as Glasgow, accepted an invitation from his mother to be friends on the online social networking site Facebook.
In March 2010, the boy, then 17, and his mother turned up Craig Tara Caravan Park, Ayrshire, where Lochrie was also staying. They entered her caravan under the influence of alcohol.
The conduct hearing was told that Lochrie laid on a bed or couch in the caravan with the boy and another young person, in what the sub-committee called an “inappropriate, albeit innocent, embrace”.
Lochrie continued the inappropriate relationship with the family in April 2010, visiting their home with her own daughter, drinking alcohol and staying overnight.
“Unlike the incident the previous weekend at the caravan, on this occasion the registrant made a conscious decision to interact with [the boy and his mother],” the sub-committee found.
It concluded that Lochrie’s actions showed a “lack of insight and disregard of” the professional boundaries expected of a social care worker.
The sub-committee was concerned that Lochrie had allowed the boy to drink alcohol in her presence: “The registrant had a particular knowledge of [the boy] and knew that there was a history of alcohol triggering offending behaviour by him.”
It said that Lochrie’s forming of a relationship with the boy’s mother on Facebook was “a serious and continuing error of judgement that showed a lack of insight on the registrant’s part into the appropriate level of professional boundaries”.
The sub-committee decided that removing her from the register was appropriate, “given the public safety and public confidence implications of the case”.
Lochrie resigned from her position as a residential child care worker on 11 May 2010. It is not known where she was employed.
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