A social worker who failed to protect two older people from financial abuse at the hands of their carers has been suspended from the register in England.
Julie Hayden was designated safeguarding champion for the London Borough of Hounslow’s older people’s team at the time the thefts were reported, but failed to follow correct safeguarding procedures in either case.
Hayden was first told on 22 February 2011 that a carer had stolen £40 from a service user, a panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee heard.
Under Hounslow’s safeguarding procedures, social workers who come across suspected financial abuse are expected to submit incident reporting forms and report the incident to police within 24 hours.
But Hayden waited until 1 March to submit the correct forms. Her team manager at the time, Elleke Carling, told the HCPC panel that there was nothing in the case notes to suggest Hayden had reported the incident to the police within 24 hours, nor had she completed a protection plan or referred the case to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
The panel also heard of a separate incident in July 2011, in which Hayden failed to report several allegations of missing money to the police or submit the appropriate forms.
The panel said: “In cases where a crime is alleged the lead should always contact the police. This, Carling told the panel, was something that would have been covered in training and would be something that the registrant would have been aware of.”
In documentation provided by Hayden when appealing her dismissal from Hounslow following an internal investigation, she said her actions had been brought about by a stressful, pressured and unsupported working environment.
But Hayden’s claims about the lack of support were refuted by Carling. Hayden was not present or represented at the HCPC’s hearing.
Panel chair Clare Reggiori concluded that Hayden was an experienced social worker who had not followed clear policy or instruction. She added: “Two service users were placed at risk of financial abuse as a result of her failings. Moreover, other service users may be placed at risk if the proper and appropriate procedures are not followed.”
The panel concluded that a 12-month suspension was the appropriate sanction in this case.