A social worker who failed to undertake basic social work tasks and blamed failings on her workload and colleagues has been sanctioned by the HCPC.
A conduct and competence committee panel said the social worker had caused actual harm to two service users, and placed others at risk, through a failure to complete assessments, make contact with new cases and schedule reviews in a timely manner. The failings related to 28 service users in total.
The panel decided a three-year conditions of practice order was the most appropriate sanction following the social worker’s misconduct.
Unwilling to accept fault
The social worker admitted to many of the failings identified by the HCPC, but tried to blame “her workload, computer failings or the inactions of colleagues” for them.
The HCPC said this showed a lack of insight as the social worker was “unable or unwilling to accept that any fault lay on her for what went wrong”.
“The facts found proved were serious and concerned a large number of vulnerable service users over a period of several months, with wide-ranging deficiencies in basic social work skills,” the ruling said.
“The panel is concerned that at no time in her evidence did [the social worker] seem to appreciate that her behaviour put service users at risk of harm,” it added.
Despite the lack of insight, the panel believed the social worker had a “strong desire to become a good and effective social worker again”, which had been proved by work done since the failings, for which she had received a positive report from her line manager.
The social worker engaged in the HCPC process, had an unblemished record and had gone through family and personal difficulties at the time of the failings shown by the HCPC.
“It is clear from the report from her current line manager that she is willing to learn and indeed has done so as she has been operating effectively in a different area of social work,” the panel said.
The panel decided a conditions of practice order would be more appropriate than a suspension order as there was “a public interest in allowing a social worker to practice if this can be achieved safely”.
Under the order, the social worker must attend meetings with a supervisor every fortnight for 12 months, then one a month afterwards. The social worker must also formulate a personal development plan, share that plan with the HCPC, and maintain a reflective practice log detailing her learning.
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