A social worker who became too involved with a child in her care and treated the child’s mother “as she would a family member” has been suspended for a year.
Fiona Borland, a social worker with at least 25 years’ experience, was allocated to Child BB, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in March 2008.
However, she began to blur the lines between her personal and professional life by forming a close relationship with the child’s mother, the Scottish Social Services Council’s conduct sub-committee heard.
In December 2009, Borland privately arranged to look after Child BB in her own home for a couple of weeks.
This was not part of the child’s care plan and did not have the approval of North Lanarkshire Council’s social work department, where Borland worked.
“Borland treated [the mother] similarly to the way she might treat a family member,” the sub-committee found. “She offered unconditional support, thereby breaching professional boundaries.”
On one occasion, Borland delayed the removal of Child BB from the mother, even though the child was at risk. Borland was removed from the case and Child BB was made subject to a child protection order.
The sub-committee said: “Over a period of approximately 18 months, [Borland] allowed her personal relationship with [the mother] to influence her actions in relation to the protection of child BB, which should, at all times, have been her primary concern. [The mother] represented a serious risk to Child BB throughout this period.”
Borland had a long and unblemished career prior to her involvement with this family.
She admitted misconduct but, while the sub-committee took this into account, it remained concerned about Borland’s apparent belief that she did the right thing, despite the departures from established practice her conduct demonstrated.
It decided to suspend her from the register for a year.
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