Social worker ignored care plan and left autistic girl alone in the bath

The social worker also used physical force on the girl, restraining her unnecessarily and pulling a duvet out from under her on a bed, the Health and Care Professions Council found.

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A social worker who did not follow the care plan for a service user with autism, leaving the girl alone in the bath despite knowing there were risks to her safety, has been suspended from the register.

Amy Marie Royal was working at Acorn Park School, Norfolk, in residences for autistic female students when the incident took place in June 2011, a panel of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) conduct and competence committee heard.

Two support workers told the panel that, as well as leaving the girl in the bath, Royal had changed the way in which she was to eat, going against the protocol set out in her care plan.

She then failed to communicate these changes appropriately, which resulted in severe anxiety and distress for the girl and physical harm to one of the support workers.

Royal also used physical force on the girl, restraining her unnecessarily and pulling a duvet out from under her on a bed, the panel heard. A disciplinary hearing at the school found gross misconduct and Royal was dismissed.

HCPC panel chair Brian Wroe said: “The panel considered that the acts found proved were serious. Although they took place on a single day, they covered a variety of acts such that they amounted to repeated behaviour. The panel does not consider that the behaviour complained of was done deliberately by Miss Royal, but was done in such an uncaring manner to the service user and her working colleagues as to amount to reckless misbehaviour on her part.

“Because of the apparent lack of insight and lack of communication from Miss Royal, [the panel] cannot be confident that there will be no repetition of similar events.”

The panel decided the most appropriate action was to suspend Royal from the register for 12 months and hold a review hearing before the end of the suspension to determine whether she has taken steps to correct her behaviour.

Royal was not present or represented at the hearing. 

Read the full notice of decision

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