A social worker with more than 20 years’ experience has been suspended from the Social Work Register after failing to manage her caseload.
A Health & Care Professions Council conduct panel imposed the 12-month suspension after finding that she failed to follow case management directions, produce adequate reviews on time, carry out visits, assess the risks faced by service users and adequately complete Mental Capacity Assessments.
These failures, which took place between 2009 and 2011, included entering details about one service user into another’s file and failing to provide timely financial management support to a service user, which placed the client at risk of eviction.
The conduct panel found that these failures amounted to misconduct and, specifically, contravened Section 6 of the code of practice, which requires social workers to be accountable for the quality of their work.
The panel did note that the social worker, who had an otherwise unblemished record, had been overloaded with cases and insufficient adjustments had been made for her disabilities, which limit her mobility and prevented her from conducting visits that require the use of stairs.
It also noted that difficult and complex events in her private life, which have not been made public, were also a mitigating factor but criticised her for not informing her employer of how this was affecting her work.
The panel also said the social worker should have sought help for adjustments relating to her disability and had failed to remove herself from the workplace or identify the extent to which her poor relations with her manager where affecting her work.
The panel also took issue with how she had denied the allegations of poor practice and blamed others for her failings until a late stage in the conduct process.
In light of this and the risk her failures posed to service users, the panel concluded that she had committed misconduct and imposed a 12-month suspension order.
“The registrant’s failings had put service users at risk and in some instances her inability to appropriately risk assess each situation and to take timely action may well have increased the risks of each of these service users,” said the panel in its decision.
That the social worker had decided to not to accept social work jobs until the conduct process was over also worked against her.
“The panel accepted that during the course of these proceedings the registrant had undergone a gradual and continual process of realisation and self-assessment,” said panel chair Raymon Pattison.
“Whilst she had been offered positions as a social worker through agencies, she had unwisely resisted these offers of employment until these proceedings had been concluded.
“The registrant therefore was unable to demonstrate that she had remedied the misconduct and that she could work safely.”