‘Burned out’ social work manager suspended after failing to manage inexperienced team

The HCPC suspends social worker and team manager who failed to support his team and did not identify safeguarding issues

manager
Photo:REX/Carolin Knabbe / WestEnd61 (Posed by models)

A social worker and team manager who failed to provide adequate management to his “inexperienced” team will be suspended, a Health and Care Professions (HCPC) panel decided.

The manager failed to act appropriately on several occasions when allocated social workers raised concerns to him about their cases.

He did not act on concerns raised about a child with unexplained injuries and did not provide adequate advice or supervision to enable the social worker on the case to act appropriately.

He closed a case despite a number of concerns being raised by the allocated social worker about a child’s parents, and in another instance failed to communicate regularly with the allocated social worker on a case where domestic violence had been reported by a service user’s sibling. The social worker in question did not commission a risk assessment following this report.

Concerns about the social worker, who managed a Children with Disabilities team, were first raised following an audit of Walsall children’s services, where the social work manager was employed.

The social worker’s line manager told the panel he did not co-operate fully with her as she tried to improve the team’s performance and did not correctly identify safeguarding issues. She described him to the panel as “inflexible and unwilling to change or improve the service the team provided.”

The outsourced children’s service was already in “disarray” after Serco took over from Action for Children as a provider. This created a large backlog of cases and gave rise to a “defensive” culture, the panel heard.

But the social worker in question was highly experienced, having been in practice since 1978 and taken on managerial roles for much of that time. His failure to act appropriately in managing his team and dealing with safeguarding issues was reflective, not of a lack of awareness of what was expected of him, but of either carelessness or negligence, the panel heard.

Although the social worker spoke of being “burned out”, his manager told the panel she had not identified in him signs of “burn-out,” which  she associated with  front-line child protection work and not the comparatively lower pressure work the social worker before the panel was engaged in.

Since the social worker had no history of previous failings, and a number of positive testimonials were given about his practice both as a manager and as a practitioner, the panel decided striking off would not be appropriate.

Panel Chair Stephen Fash said: “The panel was unable to discern a full understanding on the part of the registrant of the potential or actual impact of his poor management and inadequate attention to safeguarding issues.”

“The proven failings go beyond the role of a manager and call into question the registrant’s capability to operate effectively as a social worker responsible for vulnerable service users.”
The Panel decided the most appropriate action was to suspend the social worker for a period of 12 months.

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7 Responses to ‘Burned out’ social work manager suspended after failing to manage inexperienced team

  1. Andrew September 2, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Once again the HCPC bash the individual and make no coment or criticism of the failings of the employer. His line manager did not deteact any signs of burn-out, which she sees to think is only possible in front-line child protection – sounds likea really insightful manager herself.

  2. G Hall September 2, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Obviously we don’t know all the ins and outs but why was his managers assertion that she would not recognise burn out in a worker because he was not working in “front Line” child protection, allowed to stand?

  3. Alan September 2, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    This is closing the stable door mentality, if only clinical supervision (as is a must for counsellors) was done by an independent supervisor this could almost certainly have been avoided. OH when will the decision making enter the real world?

    • kathy trenwith September 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

      here here x

  4. Martin Porter September 5, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    “The outsourced children’s service was already in “disarray” after Serco took over from Action for Children as a provider. This created a large backlog of cases and gave rise to a “defensive” culture, the panel heard.”

    So the Social Worker gets suspended but Serco carries on?

    Is anyone actually on our side about the way things are in Social Care?

    Not the HCPC it seems.

  5. jaihanne Abdellatif September 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    So the manager keeps her job and the social worker gets suspended? Typical closing of ranks.

  6. NB September 9, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    Recently I had to mention to a senior managet hat there si no one responsible for Social Workers and it is always the “Social Workers” fault. I wonder where Social Work will end up if things continues in the the path it’s currently on?