A social worker who formed a close friendship with a vulnerable service user has been admonished by the General Social Care Council.
Maxine Scott was employed as a care worker at the Z Day Centre in Burnley and subsequently seconded to the children and families team (children with disabilities) at Lancashire Council.
During that time, she developed and maintained a close personal friendship with service user Y, who cannot be named for legal reasons, which extended to allowing Y to stay at her home and plan a holiday together.
She also accessed Y’s electronic case records on a number of occasions when she was not entitled to, the GSCC’s conduct committee heard.
Scott carried on the friendship even after Sandra Dixon, manager of the Z Centre, expressed concern about it in February 2009.
The conduct committee found Scott had committed misconduct by forming such a close relationship against the advice of her manager. The vulnerable girl had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
However, it acknowledged that this case was unique. The Z Centre follows a recovery model in mental, which effectively encourages inclusion within the community.
In a written statement to the committee, Y said of her relationship with Scott: “Our friendship has changed my life for the better and I feel more supported than I ever have from my own family.”
Scott did not keep the friendship a secret and, indeed, before going on secondment in October 2008, she sought advice from Dixon as to the best way of continuing to see Y.
Scott later admitted that the relationship had crossed professional boundaries – but the committee acknowledged that her behaviour stemmed from concern about the girl’s welfare.
There was no evidence that Scott used or shared any information from Y’s files in an improper way.
As such, the committee decided to place an admonishment next to Scott’s name on the register for 12 months.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails