GSCC conduct case: Essex ‘failed to adequately train social worker’

A social worker cautioned for misconduct this week by a General Social Care Council committee failed to receive adequate supervision and training from Essex Council, it concluded.

In the latest example of employers’ failings being revealed by the conduct system, the committee found that the council did not provide Jacqueline Bonhomme, who had only recently qualified overseas, with the necessary support after she joined Essex in January 2004.

It said this was taken into account in her punishment – an admonishment placed on her record in the social care register for two years – suggesting that otherwise she may have received a harsher sanction.

Child protection failings

The committee found Bonhomme, from South Africa, had failed to carry out visits to children on the child protection register within statutory timescales, and asked the mother of one service user to take papers relating to another user to a school head teacher in a clear plastic folder.

The GSCC committee also found that during her time at Essex, from 2004 to May 2006, Bonhomme completed an initial assessment for a service user including a statement relating to obsessive compulsive disorder, copied from a psychiatric report relating to a different user. It said she was not qualified to judge whether the statement was appropriate for the service user she was assessing.

Bonhomme also failed to maintain user confidentiality when she brought documents to an earlier GSCC hearing in a non-anonymised form.

An Essex Council spokesperson said: “The council will carefully consider the comments made in this report, and make sure the appropriate action is taken to ensure that the relevant recommendations are implemented.”

Supports case for tougher employer regulation

The case supports the GSCC’s call for tougher regulatory powers against social work employers, by putting the employers’ code of practice on a statutory footing, thereby making it enforceable.

The move is backed by British Association of Social Workers and Unison, though it is opposed by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and has effectively been rejected by the Department of Health.

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