Vivienne Elmes

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW10217

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 09:00 02/10/2018 End: 16:00 05/10/2018

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Suspended

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Allegation

 

While registered as a Social Worker and employed by Somerset County Council, between 13 October 2015 and 30 June 2016 you:

 

1. Disclosed the identity of Young Person A in an assessment, having assured them that their identity would not be disclosed.

 

2. In respect of Family B:

 

a) Completed a Child Permanence Report that:

 

i) contained the name of another child; and/or

 

ii) did not contain an assessment of the child's needs; and/or

 

iii) did not contain an assessment of the mother; and/or

 

iv) did not record key decisions in respect of the child's care.

 

b) Following a Children Looked After (CLA) review on 24 June 2015 did not carry out a follow up action to update the care plan by 1 July 2015;

 

c) In respect of a CLA review on 14 September 2015 did not:

 

i) update the care plan by 28 September 2015; and /or

 

ii) arrange a permanency planning meeting

 

d) Did not update the record of the legal status of the child with Family B on 15 September 2015 when an interim Care Order was made.

 

3. In respect of Family C:

 

a) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between 3 June and 22 November 2015;

 

b) Did not update the Chronology between 12 March and 22 November 2015;

 

c) Did not record core groups for July and August 2015;

 

d) In child protection statutory visit records, did not demonstrate evidence of;

 

i) social work intervention; and/or

 

ii) engagement with the children; and/or

 

iii) progress of plan.

 

4. In respect of Family D:

 

a) Copied a colleague's document resulting in a Public Law Outline letter dated 16 October 2015 that contained incorrect information about the case

 

b) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between June and September 2015;

 

c) Did not record core group meetings for July and August 2015;

 

d) Did not complete a parenting assessment between June and September 2015 as required.

 

5. In respect of Family E:

 

a) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between 21 April and 22

 

November 2015;

 

b) Did not record core group meetings in June, July or October 2015;

 

c) Did not update the Chronology between 30 March and 29 November 2015.

 

6. In respect of Family F:

 

a) Did not update a Child In Need Plan between 24 July and 20 October

 

2015;

 

b) Submitted the same plan for 20 October 2015 as was submitted on 24 July 2015;

 

c) Did not visit and/or contact and/or record such visit and/or contact to the service user's mother between 17 September and 20 October 2015 despite being informed that the mother and service user were to be made homeless;

 

d) Did not record Child in Need meetings and/or multi-agency working.

 

7. In respect of Family G:

 

a) Did not update the Chronology from January to 22 November 2015;

 

b) Did not record a visit on 18 July 2015;

 

c) Did not update the case summary;

 

d) On 18 August 2015, sent inappropriate and/or inaccurate information to a service user.

 

8. In respect of Family H:

 

a) Prepared a Section 7 report on the wrong form;

 

b) Did not complete a Section 7 report within the court deadline.

 

9. In respect of Family I:

 

a) Did not record adequate and/or appropriate information in case records;

 

b) Did not make a referral to Barnados for support in a timely manner.

 

10. In respect of Family J:

 

a) Prepared a Parenting Assessment, which required re-writing more than once and was submitted late.

 

11. In respect of disclosures made by Child K raising safeguarding concerns:

 

a) Did not communicate the safeguarding concerns clearly to colleagues;

 

b) Did not report your findings promptly to a manager so that further

 

safeguarding action could be considered.

 

12. Your actions as described at paragraphs 1 to 11 constitute misconduct nd/or lack of competence.

 

13. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence, your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary matters:

Proof of Service

1. The Panel was provided with a signed certificate as proof that the Notice of Hearing had been sent in a letter, by first class post on 5 July 2018, to the address shown for the Registrant on the HCPC register.  The Notice of Hearing had also been sent to the Registrant by email on the same date. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and was satisfied that Notice had been properly served in accordance with Rule 3 (Proof of Service) and Rule 6 (date, time and venue) of the Conduct and Competence Committee Rules 2003 (as amended).
Proceeding in absence of the Registrant

2. Ms Vignoles, on behalf of the HCPC, made an application for the hearing to proceed in the Registrant’s absence as permitted by Rule 11 of the Conduct & Competence Rules. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and took into account the guidance as set out in the HCPC Practice Note “Proceeding in Absence”.

3. The Panel determined that it was reasonable and in the public interest to proceed with the hearing for the following reasons:

a)The Panel noted that the Registrant in an email, dated 5 July 2018, stated, ‘I will not be attending the hearing’. “I told you a year ago I would not be involved in the process.” In these circumstances the Panel was satisfied that it was reasonable to conclude that the Registrant’s non-attendance was voluntary and therefore a deliberate waiver of her right to attend and participate in person.

b)There has been no application to adjourn and no indication from the Registrant that she would be willing or able to attend on an alternative date and therefore re-listing this final hearing would serve no useful purpose.

c)The HCPC has made arrangements for three witnesses to give evidence during this hearing. In the absence of any reason to re-schedule the hearing, the Panel was satisfied that the witnesses should not be inconvenienced by an unnecessary delay and should give evidence whilst the events are reasonably fresh in their minds.

d)The Panel recognised that there may some disadvantage to the Registrant in not being able to give evidence or make oral submissions. However, the Panel noted that she had previously provided written submissions, which mitigated some potential disadvantage.

e)As this is a substantive hearing there is a strong public interest in ensuring that it is considered expeditiously. It is also in the Registrant’s interest that the allegation is heard as soon as possible.

Application to amend the particulars

4. At the outset of the hearing Ms Vignoles made an application to amend the allegation. The Registrant had been put on notice of the original proposed amendments in a letter dated 7 November 2017 and again when the bundle of evidence was served upon her on the 6 February 2018.

5. In response to a query from the Panel, Ms Vignoles also made an application for additional amendments to the proposed Allegation.

6. The proposed amendments were therefore as follows:

I.Stem – deletion of the date ’13 October 2015’ and insertion of the date ‘January 2015’;
II.Particular 1 – insertion of the word ‘report’;
III.Particular 2 (b) – amendment of the date ‘24 June 2015’ to ‘17 June 2015’ and deletion of the date ‘1 July 2015’;
IV.Particular 2 (d) – deletion of the words ‘the’ and ‘with Family B’;
V.Particular 3 (a) – amendment of the date from ’22 November 2015’ to ’11 November 2015’;
VI.Particular 3 (b) – amendment of the date from ’22 November 2015’ to  ‘11 November 2015’;
VII.Particular 3 (c) – insertion of the words ‘undertake’, ‘and/or’ and meetings’ and deletion of the ‘s’ from the word ‘group’;
VIII.Particular 3 (d) – offer no evidence in respect of (i) and (iii);
IX.Particular 4 (a) – insertion of the word ‘including’ along with three further sub-headings (i)-(iii). These were ‘(i) the incorrect name of the Service User; and/or’. ‘(ii) the incorrect address of the Service User; and/or’ and ‘(iii) the incorrect name of the social worker to contact’.
X.Particular 4 (b) – insertion of the sentence ‘Did not have permission from Colleague A to use and/or copy their letter’;
XI.Particular 4 (b) renumbered to become 4(c);
XII.Particular 4 (c) renumbered to become 4 (d);
XIII.Particular 4 (d) renumbered to become 4 (e);
XIV.Particular 4 (e) – amendment of the date from ‘September 2015’ to ‘July 2015’;
XV.Particular 5 (a) – deletion of the dates ’21 April’, ’22 November’ and ‘22 May’  and insertion of the word ‘July’;
XVI.Particular 5 (b) – insertion of the words ‘undertake’ and ‘and/or’ and deletion of the word ‘June’;
XVII.Particular 5 (c) – deletion of the dates ’30 March’ and ’29 November’, insertion of the word “July’ and insertion of the date ’11 November’;
XVIII.Particular 6 (c) – deletion of the words ‘to the service users mother’. Insertion of the words ‘Family F’. Amendment of the date ’17 September’ to ’23 September’ and the ’20 October’ to ’16 October’;
XIX. Particular 6 (d) – insertion of the words ‘between 28 July 2015 and 11 November 2015’;
XX.Particular 7 (a) – amendment of the date from the ’22 November’ to the ‘11 November’;
XXI.Particular 7 (b) – insertion of the words ‘visit and/or record’ and deletion of the word ‘record’;
XXII.Particular 10 (a) – No evidence offered, deletion of 10 and 10(a);
XXIII.Particular 11 – renumbered to become particular 10;
XXIV.Particular 12 – renumbered to become particular 11, with the deletion of the number ’11’ and insertion of the number ‘10’; and
XXV.Particular 13 – renumbered to become 12, with the deletion of the number ‘13’ and insertion of the number ‘11’.

 

Background

7. The Registrant is, and was at the relevant times, registered with the HCPC as a Social Worker.

8. The Registrant was employed as a Social Worker in the Safeguarding 3 Team of the Children and Families department at Somerset County Council (‘SCC’). She commenced employment for SCC in January 2015 and was a member of the children’s safeguarding team.

9. Concerns regarding the Registrant’s practice were raised in August 2015 when a new line manager was appointed to oversee the team. In broad terms, concerns centred around not updating chronologies, case summaries parenting assessments, care plans or child protection and/or child in need plans. They were also concerns about the Registrant not ensuring that multi-disciplinary meetings were held, not recording the outcome of the meetings and the manner of her communication with colleagues and Service Users.

10. The Registrant was placed under performance management in January 2016.

11. Owing to concerns that witness JS had regarding the Registrant’s practice, a referral was made to the HCPC in October 2016.

12.  The HCPC relied on the evidence of three witnesses who provided statements and exhibits, which included the case notes of service users. The witnesses also gave oral evidence at the hearing.

13. The Registrant was not in attendance at the hearing but had provided written representations about her personal circumstances and her insolvent with the families cited in the allegation.

Decision on Facts

Assessment of Witnesses

Witness JS

14. Witness JS qualified as a Social Worker in 2012. She is a Team Manager in the Safeguarding Team at SCC and has been in that role since October 2015. As part of her role she had management and supervisory responsibilities for six social workers and one senior social work assistant. This included the Registrant.

15. The witness took over line management responsibility of the Registrant in October 2015.

16. The Panel found Witness JS to be a credible and reliable witness and the Panel had no reason to doubt her recollection of events. Her oral evidence was measured and balanced and consistent with her witness statement, measured and balanced. If she was unable to recollect a particular event she said so and she provided reasons for any views she expressed. She took time to think about her evidence and did not manufacture her recollections.

17. The Panel found JS to be a reasonable and supportive manager to the Registrant. The Panel felt that she went the extra mile to support the Registrant and was balanced and composed when accepting some of the Registrant’s concerns.

Witness RC

18. Witness RC qualified as a Social Worker in 1998. He joined the Council on 3 August 2015 as the Team Manager of the Safeguarding 3 Team. It was at this time that he took over line management responsibility of the Registrant.

19. Whilst the Panel felt that RC may have been influenced by his personal view of the Registrant, the Panel did not feel that this adversely affected the reliability of his evidence. Scrutiny of the Registrant’s work was not unwarranted and a fresh pair of eyes on her performance and work was reasonable. The Panel felt that whilst RC may not have adjusted his communication style to communicate with the Registrant, the Panel felt that he dealt with the Registrant appropriately. His evidence was largely substantiated by the documentary evidence provided.

Witness MB

20. Witness MB qualified as a Social Worker in 2008. She was appointed as a Team Manager in the Manage Safeguarding Team of the Council in October 2015.

21.  The Panel found MB to be straightforward and measured and accepted when she could not recollect things because of the passage of time. The Panel felt that she had sympathy for the Registrant and had been a supportive colleague.

Panel’s Approach

22. The Panel was aware that the burden of proving the facts was on the HCPC. The Registrant did not have to prove anything and the individual particulars of the Allegation could only be found proved if the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities.

23. In reaching its decision the Panel took into account the oral evidence of the HCPC witnesses, the documentary evidence contained within the hearing bundle as well as the oral submissions made by Ms Vignoles and the Registrant’s written representations.

24. The Panel accepted the advice from the Legal Assessor.

Particular 1

While registered as a Social Worker and employed by Somerset County Council, between January 2015 and 30 June 2016 you:

1. Disclosed the identity of Young Person A in an assessment report, having assured them that their identity would not be disclosed.

25. There was no dispute that the Registrant was employed by the Council as a Social Worker between January 2015 and June 2016 or that she had conduct of the cases which formed the basis of the particulars of allegation.

26. There was also no dispute that the Registrant had completed a Children and Families Assessment Form which identified Young Person A.

27. Witness JS informed the Panel that Young Person A was not an active case for the Registrant. A complaint was received, from Young Person A, following the Registrant’s assessment of a family member within Family I. As part of that Assessment the Registrant had interviewed Young Person A.

28. Young person A’s complaint was that the Registrant had assured her that her name would not be mentioned in her assessment form and as a result of the assurance provided Young Person A believed that she was speaking to the Registrant in confidence.

29. The Panel was informed, by JS, that Young Person A subsequently established that her name was mentioned in the Assessment form and that she had feared repercussions as a consequence. Young Person A lodged a formal complaint with SCC.

 

30. Witness JS informed the Panel that as a result of receiving the complaint, she had written to Young Person A, on the 6 March 2016, to acknowledge receipt of her complaint. She indicated that after completing an investigation into the matter, she wrote again to Young person A, on the 19 April 2016,  to apologise on behalf of SCC, accepting that Young person A’s name had been cited in the Assessment form by the Registrant. JS also informed the Panel during her oral evidence that it would only have been appropriate to give an assurance to Young Person A that her name would not be shared, as long as the information provided did not give rise to issues of safeguarding.

31. The Panel noted that the Registrant, in her letter to the HCPC dated 24 May 2017, disputed the fact that she would keep Young Person A’s name confidential. However, the Panel felt that the Registrant had confused two issues. The issue of the disclosure itself and where the disclosure had originated from. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence that the Registrant should not have given an assurance that Young Person A’s name would not be used and this breach indicated a lack of understanding regarding Service User confidentiality.

32. The Panel found, as a matter of fact, that the Registrant had mentioned Young person A’s name in the Assessment Form and that she had done so notwithstanding an assurance being provided to Young person A.

33.  Accordingly, The Panel found particular 1 proved.

Particular 2

2. In respect of Family B:

a) Completed a Child Permanence Report that:
i) contained the name of another child; and/or
ii) did not contain an assessment of the child's needs; and/or
iii) did not contain an assessment of the mother; and/or
iv) did not record key decisions in respect of the child's care.

34. The Panel was informed, by witness JS, that Child B was in foster care. She had been in foster care since May 2015 and had experienced neglect whilst in the care of her mother.

35. JS provided evidence to the Panel that a Child Permanence Report is a report for a child once they have grown up which informs the child about its history, giving essential information about its identity and where it came from. It provides a chronology of its life and explains why key decisions have been made about its care, who made those decisions and why it was unable to remain within their birth family. JS indicated that the Child Permanence Report should contain all of the information about a child from birth until when permanence is achieved when the child moves into its forever family.

36. There was no dispute that a Child Permanence Report in respect of Child B had been prepared by the Registrant.

37. JS provided both written and oral evidence to the Panel which showed that the Registrant had used the name of another child, unrelated to Child B, within the body of the Child Permanence Report of Child B. JS also highlighted sections of the report where the Registrant had not completed some sections of the report. Specifically, that she had not completed an assessment of the child’s needs or an assessment of the mother. In addition, JS indicated that key agency decisions, which had been taken in respect of Child B, were missing.

38. The Panel noted that the Registrant accepted, in a Performance Management Meeting dated 14 January 2016, that she had copied another colleague’s work. The Panel also noted that the Registrant accepted, in her representations, that the report did not contain key decisions.

39. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence. Having heard and reviewed the evidence, the Panel found as a fact that the Child Permanence Report did contain the name of another child. The Panel also found as fact that the Child Permanence Report did not contain an assessment of the child’s needs, or an assessment of the mother and that the report did not record key decisions in respect of the child’s care when it should have included each of these.

40. Consequently, Particulars 2(a) (i) – (iv) were found proved.

b) Following a Children Looked After (CLA) review on 17 June 2015 did not carry out a follow up action to update the care plan;

41.  In her written statement, JS indicated, that a ‘Children Looked After’ (‘CLA’) review is a meeting that is chaired by an Independent Reviewing and Safeguarding Officer. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that a child’s plan is progressing in accordance with the child’s need.

42. JS gave evidence that as part of the CLA review, on 24 June 2015, the Registrant was tasked with updating the Care Plan following the meeting. JS indicated that a care plan is required for every child involved with social services. She provided evidence that the document details what parents, carers, professionals and children’s social care are doing for the child to ensure that they are being safeguarded from significant harm and to ensure that they have an opportunity to reach their full potential. JS gave evidence that Care Plans should be updated every three months, even if they are not directly asked for.

43. JS provided the Panel with evidence which demonstrated that the Registrant had not updated the Care Plan within the required time frames, she highlighted to the Panel that a Care Plan which was not up-to-date could have led to Child B not being properly safeguarded from harm and the child’s needs not being met resulting in the child being without appropriate services or resources.

44. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence. In particular it noted that the case note entry, dated Sunday 22 November 2015, and entitled ‘Management overview of file’ documented that the Registrant had not updated the Care Plan, by the date of the entry despite earlier reminders.

45. Consequently, the Panel found particular 2(b) proved.

c) In respect of a CLA review on 14 September 2015 did not:

i) update the care plan by 28 September 2015; and /or
ii) arrange a permanency planning meeting

46. The Panel was provided with evidence from JS that a permanency-planning meeting is a meeting where the long term plans for a child are looked at. The meeting involves considering all the options for a child’s home such as fostering, adoption and returning to the family home. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the right plan for the child’s individual needs are reviewed and scrutinised.

47. As part of an audit, undertaken by JS in November 2015, JS indicated that she reviewed Child B’s file and noted that the Registrant had not updated the Care Plan by the 28 September 2015. She also indicated that a permanency planning meeting had not been arranged.

48. The Panel noted the Registrant’s representations where she indicated ‘maybe I forgot to save after I added them’.

49. Accepting JS’s evidence, the Panel found as a fact that the Registrant was responsible for updating the Care Plan record post the 14 September 2015 meeting and despite the explanation provided by the Registrant, the Panel found that because there was no record, held on SCC records, it could not be satisfied that the Registrant had updated the Care Plan by 28 September 2014.

50. Accepting JS’s evidence, the Panel also found as a fact that the Registrant, who was responsible for arranging a permanency-planning meeting after the 14 September 2015, had not done so.

51. Consequently, Particulars 2 c(i) and (ii) were found proved.

d) Did not update the record of the legal status of Child B on 15 September 2015 when an interim Care Order was made.

52. JS gave evidence to the Panel that an Interim Care Order had been made, on 15 September 2015, in respect of Child B. JS indicated that the Interim Care Order provided SCC with joint parental responsibility of the child along with the child’s parents. She indicated that when an Interim Care Order is made, the Child’s electronic file should be updated by the social worker to reflect the change to the legal status of the child.

53. JS provided documentary evidence to the Panel, which showed, as part of her audit on the Registrant’s case files, that Child B’s legal status had not been updated by the Registrant for six months. JS highlighted the ramifications that this could have had for Child B or his/her family.

54. The Panel accepted the evidence before it and found as a fact, that it was the Registrant’s responsibility to update the record regarding legal status and that she had not done so.

55. Consequently, the Panel found particular 2(d) proved.

Particular 3

3. In respect of Family C:

a) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between 3 June and 11 November 2015;

56. The Panel heard evidence from JS that Family C comprised two siblings, Child C1 and Child C2. Both children were on Child Protection Plans from 12 March 2015 until 25 November 2015.

57. JS indicated that Child Protection Plans are a multiagency plan which encompasses the family and child’s plan. She gave evidence that the plan should detail the needs and safety goals for the child to keep them safe and should document the outcomes and action points to be completed and by whom, after each meeting. She gave evidence that child protection plans should be updated every 28 days so that everyone knows what they should be doing to meet the child’s identified needs and give a by which the action should be completed.

58. RC and JS both gave evidence to the Panel, further to their individual audits of the Registrants case files, which indicated that the Registrant had not updated the Child Protection Plan between 3 June and 11 November 2015.

59. The Panel accepted both RC and JS’s evidence. Whilst the Panel noted the Registrant’s admissions regarding her sense of ‘letting the family down’, the Panel noted the importance of this document and found that it should have been updated, by the Registrant, within the 28 days to ensure that the Child was not left vulnerable or at risk of significant harm.

60. Noting that the Registrant did not take on responsibility of this case file until the 1st July 2015, the Panel finds as a matter of fact that the Registrant was responsible for updating the Child Protection Plan between the 1st July 2015 and 11 November 2015 and that she failed to do so.

61. Accordingly, the Panel find particular 3(a) proved.

b) Did not update the Chronology between 12 March and 11  November 2015;

62.  The Panel heard evidence, from JS, that her audit of the Registrant’s files had highlighted that the Registrant had failed to update the Chronology between 12 March and 11 November 2015.

63. The Panel found JS to be very honest and credible when she indicated that she was unable to provide a copy of the chronology to the Panel because the document had since been updated on the LSC system and therefore did not show that the Registrant had failed to update it.

64. Notwithstanding the fact that they did not have sight of the missing chronology, the Panel was satisfied that the Chronology had not been updated because JS had highlighted this as an omission on the Registrant’s part when conducting her audit.

65. When determining issues of fact, the Panel noted that the Registrant was not the allocated Social Worker with responsibility for this file until the 1st July 2015. Therefore, the Panel finds that whilst the Registrant should have updated the chronology between 1st July 2015 and 11 November 2015, and she did not do this, she could not have been expected to complete a chronology on a file for which she was not responsible between 12 March and the 1st July 2015.

66. The Panel noted the Registrant’s representations that Child C’s family were reluctant to engage and this made it difficult for her to obtain information. It is the Panel’s view that where information was difficult to obtain, this should have been reflected by the Registrant on Child C’s record, as opposed to not inputting any entry whatsoever.

67. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 3 (b) part proved.

c) Did not undertake and/or record core group meetings for July and August 2015;

68. The Panel heard evidence from JS and RC that Core Group Meetings were held in June and September, but that there was no evidence of meetings having been held in July and August. The Panel was told that the purpose of such meetings is to progress the child’s plan to ensure that the needs of the child are met. SCC had a statutory duty to undertake these meetings every 28 days and that by not holding the meetings, children may have been vulnerable to harm or could have been subject to a care plan for longer than was necessary.

69. Accepting the evidence of JS and RC, the Panel find as a matter of fact that the Registrant did not undertake the meetings in July and August.

70. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 3 (c) proved.

d) In child protection statutory visit records, did not demonstrate evidence of engagement with the children

71.  The Panel heard evidence from JS that a random audit was carried out, by another manager within the department, on 9 November 2015. That manager noted, when reviewing Child C’s file, that the ‘child’s voice’ was not contained within the notes on the file. The Panel was told that the ‘voice of the child’ informs everything that Social Workers do as it informs their intervention plans and strategy and that the Registrant would have known this.

72.  Having considered the evidence before them, and in particular the notes from the statutory visit dated 18 August 2015, the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant did demonstrate evidence of engagement with children.

73. The Panel therefore found particular 3 (d) not proved.


Particular 4

4. In respect of Family D:

a) Copied a colleague's document resulting in a Public Law Outline letter dated 16 October 2015 that contained incorrect information about the case including:

(i) the incorrect name of the Service User; and/or
(ii) the incorrect address of the Service User; and/or
(iii) the incorrect name of the social worker to contact.

74. The Panel heard evidence from JS that Family D was a sibling group of four children. There were concerns around on-going neglect and witnessing physical violence between the parents. JS indicated that a public law letter, a letter which informs the parents that SCC were instigating proceedings, needed to be issued.

75. The Panel heard evidence from JS that the Registrant had supplied a public law letter to her in a format that was incomprehensible and that JS had returned it to the Registrant to rewrite. JS indicated that on the version she was supplied with, the incorrect name for the service user had been included, along with an incorrect address and the name of another colleague when providing details of the social worker to contact.

76. The Panel noted that the Registrant did not deny these particulars. In her letter of representation she stated ‘I used someone else’s document to help me find a style the might please… [JS].’

77. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and found as a matter of fact that the letter did contain the incorrect service user’s details and those of another social worker.

78. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 4(a) (i), (ii), (iii) proved.

b) Did not have permission from Colleague A to use and/or copy their letter.

79. As a result of finding particular 4 (i), (ii) and (iii) proved, the Panel also considered the evidence of JS that the form had been used without permission. JS indicated that the other social worker had not been asked for permission and this was not challenged by the Registrant in her representations. Consequently, the Panel accepted JS’s evidence and found that the Registrant did access the record of another service user and that she did so in breach of confidentiality policies and without the permission of her colleague.

80. Accordingly, the panel found particular 4 (b) proved.

c) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between June and September 2015;

81. JS indicated to the Panel that the Registrant, as the allocated Social Worker, was responsible for updating the Child Protection Plan for the youngest three children of Family D.

82. The Panel was told, by JS, that the Child Protection Plan was updated in April 2015 following the initial Child Protection meeting where the Plan was created. JS also gave evidence that the Core Group Meeting minutes for the 7 May 2015 were recorded but the Plan had not been updated. JS informed the Panel that the Core Group meeting minutes for the 2 July 2015 were recorded and that she, herself, had updated the Plan on the 7 July 2015. She also informed the Panel that the Core Group Meetings did not take place until 4 September 2015 and then again in October 2015.

83. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and found as a matter of fact that the Registrant did have an obligation to update the Child Protection Plan and that she did not update it between June and September 2015.

84. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 4 (c) proved.

 d) Did not record core group meetings for July and August 2015;

85. The Panel noted, when considering the documentary evidence before it that JS indicated, in her audit report, that a Core Group was recorded for 2nd July 2015. The Panel also noted, from JS’s witness statement that a meeting did not occur in August 2015 and therefore, there would not have been any minutes to record.

86. Consequently, the Panel found particular 4 (d) was not proved.

e)Did not complete a parenting assessment between June and July 2015 as required.

87. The Panel heard evidence from JS that when children are first placed on a Child Protection Plan, a Parenting Assessment should be carried out to assess the children’s needs and the parent’s ability to meet those needs including the parental capacity for change.

88. JS provided evidence that on the 19 June 2015, during a supervision meeting with her previous line manager, the Registrant was asked to complete this piece of work by the 31 July 2015 and that she did not do this.

89. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and finds that the Registrant was under an obligation to complete the Parenting Assessment and that she failed to do so. The Panel also finds that as a direct consequence of not completing the Parenting Assessment, the children lived at home in circumstances which caused them harm for much longer than necessary, had the assessments been completed in a timely manner.

90. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 4 (e) proved.

Particular 5

5. In respect of Family E:

a) Did not update the Child Protection Plan between July and September 2015;

91. The Panel heard evidence from JS that the children in Family E were subject to a Child Protection Plan due to emotional abuse and domestic violence in the home. JS indicated that the Registrant should have updated the Child Protection Plan every 28 days. JS gave evidence that despite Core Group meetings on the 21st April, 22 May, 3rd August and 22nd September 2015, the Child Protection Plan had not been updated by the Registrant.

92. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and finds that the Registrant was under an obligation to update the Child Protection plan and that she did not update the plan between July and September 2015.
93. Consequently, the Panel found particular 5 (a) proved.

b) Did not undertake and/or record core group meetings in July or October 2015;

94.  The Panel heard evidence from JS and RC in respect of the lack of core group meetings in July and October 2015. The Panel noted the Registrant’s representations whereby she indicated that ‘I prepared my core group minutes on my home computer and sent them to Business Support to put on the system. I am afraid that I was not aware that they had failed to do so.’

95. The Panel accepted the evidence of JS and RC that the meetings did not take place. The Panel finds as a matter of fact that the Registrant should have undertaken core group meetings in July and October and that she did not do so.

96. Accordingly, the Panel finds particular 5(b) proved.

c) Did not update the Chronology between July and 11 November 2015.

97. JS gave evidence that the last time that the chronology, in respect of Family E, had been updated was on the 30 March 2015.

98. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and finds as a fact that the Registrant was under an obligation to update the Chronology after the file had been passed to her in July and that she was under a continuing duty to update it every time that there was a significant event.

99. The Panel finds that the Registrant failed to update the Chronology between July and 11 November 2015.

100. Therefore the Panel found particular 5 (c) proved.

Particular 6

6. In respect of Family F:

a) Did not update a Child In Need Plan between 24 July and 20 October 2015;

101. The Panel read evidence from JS that Child F had previously lived in another Local Authority and that Local Authority had informed SCC that they had not completed their assessment of her. They had concerns about her hygiene and also regarding her mother’s drinking and friendship groups.

102. JS’s evidence was that a Child in Need Plan was required in this case. The Panel heard evidence that a Child in Need plan is put in place when multi-agencies have decided that a Child Protection Plan is not necessary to meet the child’s needs but that, the child and family would nevertheless benefit from the provision of services under the Children’s Act.

103. JS gave evidence that there was only one Child in Need Plan in this case and that, in her opinion, the meetings, which inform the content of the Plan, should have been occurring every six weeks. JS went on to give evidence of the lack of Child in Need meetings recorded in the case notes, leading her to believe that no Child in Need meetings were arranged by the Registrant.

104. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence. The Panel finds as a matter of fact that Child in Need meetings did not take place between July and 20 October and that the Registrant also failed to update the Child in Need Plan.

105. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 6 (a) proved.

b) Submitted the same plan for 20 October 2015 as was submitted on 24 July 2015;

106. JS gave evidence to the Panel that on the 20 October 2015 the Registrant had sent her a Child in Need Plan which she claimed to have updated. JS informed the Panel that she added a case note to detail that her authorisation on the Plan was denied because the Registrant had not updated the plan and it was exactly the same as that of the 24 July 2015.

107. The Panel accepted JS’s evidence and finds, as a fact, that the Registrant did submit the same form twice and that she submitted it in an unchanged format.

108. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 6 (b) proved.

c) Did not visit and/or contact and/or record such visit and/or contact with Family F between 23 September and 16 October 2015 despite being informed that the mother and service user were to be made homeless;

109. It was not disputed between the parties that the Registrant was on sick leave from the 22 September to 5 October 2015. The Registrant returned to the office on the 5 October 2015 and was absent from the office again on the 9 October 2015.

110. The Panel heard evidence from RC that he had met with the Registrant to discuss Family F’s case on the 21 September 2015. The Panel noted, from the case note report, that the first time that SCC had become aware that the Family might be made homeless was on the 23 September 2015.

111. The Panel finds as a matter of fact that the Registrant did not visit the family between 23 September 2015 and 16 October 2015. However, the Panel felt that it was not incumbent on her to do so whilst absent from the office on sick leave for a significant period of time. The Panel also acknowledged that she conducted a visit to the Family shortly after returning to work.

112. Accordingly the Panel found particular 6(c) not proved.

d) Did not record Child in Need meetings and/or multi-agency working between 28 July 2015 and 11 November 2015.

113. The Panel heard evidence from JS that there were no Child in Need meetings of Multi-agency working recorded on Child F’s case records for the period between 28 July 2015 and 30 November 2015.

114. The Panel also noted the Registrant’s representation whereby she acknowledges that she was ‘unable to fix a Child in Need meeting with the School’.

115. The Panel finds as a matter of fact that despite there being an expectation that the Registrant would organise a Child in Need meeting and record the Child in Need meeting minutes, she failed to do so. The Panel also felt that if the Registrant was unable to organise a meeting with the School, then this information should have been recorded on the file, rather than making no comment whatsoever.

116. Consequently, the Panel found particular 6 (d) proved.

Particular 7

7. In respect of Family G:

a) Did not update the Chronology from January to 11 November 2015;

117. The Panel heard evidence from JS that Family G consisted of two children who were known to Children’s Services owing to concerns regarding domestic abuse in the home. In February 2015 the children went to live with the maternal grandparents under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO), which is an order made by the Court.

118. JS was unable to assist the Panel with when the Chronology was not updated, by the Registrant, because the Chronology has since been updated and therefore this information was not apparent to JS. However, JS did provide evidence to the Panel that the lack of Chronology update was discussed in her supervision meeting with the Registrant in June 2015.

119. The Panel noted, from reviewing the evidence, that the Child’s Supervision record, dated 19 June 2015 indicates that the Registrant was required to update the Chronology.

120. The Panel also noted that the Case Note Reports, dated 6 October 2015 and 20 December 2015, both indicate that the Registrant needed to ensure that the chronology was up-to-date.

121. The Panel finds as a matter of fact that the Registrant did have an obligation to update the Chronology and that she did not do so between January and 11 November 2015.
122. Accordingly, the Panel found Particular 7(a) proved.

b) Did not visit and/or record a visit on 18 July 2015;

123. The Panel heard evidence from JS that a supervision record dated 19 June 2015 stated that the Registrant was due to close the case after the first contact visit. The record lists that the final contact was due to take place on 18 July 2015. JS indicated that because there was no entry in the case notes for 18 July 2015 it is not clear whether the Registrant visited the family on this date and/or did not record the visit.

124. The Panel had regard to JS’s evidence and notes her candid response in relation to a Child in Need visit which was made to the Family on the 17 July 2015. The Particular sets out that the Registrant did not visit the Family on the 18 July 2015. However, the Panel finds that it is highly unlikely that there would have been a need or reason for the Registrant to visit the Family a day after her Child in Need visit on the 17 July 2015. The Panel was also content with the record made in relation to the visit on the 17 July 2015 was made.

125. Accordingly, the Panel found that particular 7(b) is not proved.

c) Did not update the case summary;

126. The Panel felt that this particular was not sufficiently particularised for it to be able to make a finding. The particular reads that the Registrant did not update the case summary that there is no reference to date or timescale. The Panel noted that the Registrant had recorded a case summary in respect of this family 21 December 2015 which was an updating

127. Therefore, the Panel found particular 7(c) not proved.

d) On 18 August 2015, sent inappropriate and/or inaccurate information to a service user.

128. On the 18 August 2015 the Registrant sent an email to a service users Grandparent stating ‘I have asked the management team about set up fees, but they said its too late to reply. I leave it to you to decide how to respond to that’.

129. The Panel had regard to the letter of complaint which was received further to the Registrant’s email and also the solicitor‘s letter which was received by SCC.

130. Having regard to the evidence the Panel finds, as a fact, that the Registrant used an inappropriate manner in which to write to a service user and that the information contained within the email was also inaccurate which was supported by the evidence provided by RC.

131. Consequently, the Panel found particular 7(d) proved.

Particular 8

8. In respect of Family H:

a) Prepared a Section 7 report on the wrong form;

132. The Panel heard evidence from JS that Family H concerned a young child at the time of referral to SCC.There were concerns regarding domestic violence and sexual abuse in the  home.

133. JS gave evidence that in this case the Registrant was required to complete a Section 7 Report. This report is a court report, which is requested by the court and sets out the assessment of the child’s needs and the parents’ abilities to meet those needs. JS informed the Panel that the Registrant had used the incorrect form which had caused JS to have to return it to her. JS also gave evidence that she thought that the contents of the form had not been proof read and/or properly formatted. JS confirmed that whilst she did not retain a copy of the document, and therefore could not put it before the Panel, that the notes regarding the content and errors concerning the form were documented in her Audit.

134. Notwithstanding the Registrant’s representations that she was unable to access the correct form, the Panel found as a matter of fact that the Registrant should have completed the Section 7 Report form that she failed to complete the correct form despite having the ability to access to the bank of template documents available to the safeguarding team.

135. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 8(a) proved.

b) Did not complete a Section 7 report within the court deadline.

136. The Panel heard evidence from JS and RC that an audit of Child H’s file was conducted on 24 September 2015. Both witnesses provided evidence that audit noted that the Section 7 Report was outstanding and had been outstanding since July 2015. Both JS and RC indicated that the Registrant would have been aware of the court deadline of the 4 October 2015.

137. Accepting the evidence of both witnesses, the Panel finds as a matter of fact that notwithstanding the Registrant’s period of absence from work she would have been aware for some months, that the Section 7 Report needed to be completed and that she failed to complete it before the deadline of the 4 October 2015.

138. Consequently, the Panel found particular 8(b) proved.


Particular 9

9. In respect of Family I:

a)Did not record adequate and/or appropriate information in case records;

139. JS provided evidence to the Panel that Family I concerned a sibling group of 3 children. At the time, there were concerns regarding a very chaotic home situation and that the children were at risk of domestic violence and not having their needs met.

140. JS went on to state that she had concerns about a Child Protection Plan that the Registrant had prepared in this case. She indicated that the Plan did not relate to the potential harm in the home and did not contain goals to be achieved. JS went on to inform the Panel that she had raised these concerns with the Registrant and that she had documented them in her audit report.

141. Accepting JS’s evidence, the Panel finds as a matter of fact that the Registrant did not adequately complete the form. She had had also failed to complete the ‘analysis of information’ text box on the form.

142. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 9(a) proved.

b) Did not make a referral to Barnados for support in a timely manner.

143. JS informed the Panel that on the 21 January 2016 there was an action in the Registrant’s supervision record for her to make a referral to Barnados by her next supervision meeting which was on the 17 February 2016.

144. JS gave evidence that on review of the previous actions, it was noted that she had not made a referral to Barnados.

145. Whilst the Panel noted the Registrant’s representations, regarding the difficulties that she claimed to have experienced in making a referral to Barnados, the Panel could not see any evidence of any action having been taken on the file. Further, the Panel did note an entry on the supervision record entry, dated 17 February 2016, which documented that the Registrant admitted to having forgotten to action the referral.

146. Accepting JS’s evidence and noting the evidence contained within the supervision record, the Panel finds as a fact that the Registrant was asked to make a referral to Barnados that she should have done so and that did not make a referral to Barnados.

147. Accordingly, the Panel found particular 9(b) proved.

Particular 10

10. In respect of disclosures made by Child K raising safeguarding concerns:

a)Did not communicate the safeguarding concerns clearly to colleagues;

148. The Panel heard evidence from MB that this case concerned child neglect and high levels of domestic violence within the family. Child K was living with his parental grandmother and that his behaviour had deteriorated. There were concerns regarding his relationship with his parents and stepfather.

149. MB gave evidence that concerns were raised by Child K’s school, via the team inbox at 10.21am, in relation to a suspected injury to Child K’s sibling. It was alleged that the boyfriend had hit Child K’s sibling and that this had left a bruise.

150. Accepting MB’s evidence, the Panel finds as a fact that colleagues were aware of the safeguarding concerns raised in respect of Child K’s sibling. MB was aware of the concerns raised in respect of the child and gave evidence to the Panel that she had given instructions on how the case should be progressed throughout the day. Accordingly, it was not necessary for the Registrant to communicate these concerns to colleagues.

151. Consequently, the Panel found particular 10(a) not proved.

b) Did not report your findings promptly to a manager so that further safeguarding action could be considered.

152. MB gave evidence to the Panel that she had asked the Registrant and a colleague to investigate the concerns raised with the School and to report back to her or another senior colleague on duty that day. MB stated that when she spoke with her colleague, at approximately 16.15pm that day, the Registrant had not communicated with her regarding this case and that an update had not been provided. Further, MB indicated that she made a number of telephone calls to the Registrant in an attempt to obtain an update from her and was finally able to reach her, by telephone, at 18.57pm the same evening.

153. MB indicated that she was so concerned by the Registrant’s behaviour that she raised the matter with JS as the Registrant’s line manager in an email dated 9 November 2015.

154. The Panel noted the Registrant’s admission that ‘I did not ring the manager because there was nothing to report’.

155. Accepting MB’s evidence the Panel finds as a fact that the Registrant having been asked to investigate the safeguarding concerns with the School and provide an update to senior colleagues for a decision about next steps to take place, she failed to update her colleagues in a timely manner which caused a delay in determining the appropriate next steps.

156. The Panel finds that, notwithstanding the Registrant’s view that there was ‘nothing to report’, she should have contacted MB, or another senior manager in the team, to pass the information on in a prompt fashion and she failed to do so.

157. Consequently, the Panel found particular 10 (b) proved.

Decision on Grounds

Panels Approach

 

158. The Panel first considered whether any of the facts found proved amounted to misconduct. In doing so, it took into account the submissions of the parties and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel also considered the relevant Practice Note issued by the HCPTS, “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”, together with the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and the HCPC’s Standards of Proficiency Social Workers in England.

159. The Panel found breaches of the following parts of the HCPC’s Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (dated January 2016):

1 - promote and protect the interests of service users and carers;

2 - communicate appropriately and effectively with service users and carers; and

10.1 - you must keep full, clear, and accurate records for everyone you care for, treat, or provide other services to.

160. The Panel also found breaches of the following parts of the HCPC’s Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers in England:

1 -  be able to practise safely and effectively within their scope of practice;

1.2 - recognise the need to manage their own workload and resources and be able to practise accordingly;
1.3 - be able to undertake assessments of risk, need and capacity and respond appropriately;
7-  be able to maintain confidentiality;
7.1 - be able to understand and explain the limits of confidentiality;
8.4 - understand how communication skills affect the assessment of and engagement with service users and carers;
8.11 -  be able to prepare and present formal reports in line with applicable protocols and guidelines;
9 - be able to work appropriately with others;
9.1 - understand the need to build and sustain professional relationships with service users, carers and colleagues as both an autonomous practitioner and collaboratively with others;
10 - be able to maintain records appropriately;
10.1 - be able to keep accurate, comprehensive and comprehensible records in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines;
11- be able to reflect on and review practice;
11.1- understand the value of critical reflection on practice and the need to record the outcome of such reflection appropriately;
11.2 - recognise the value of supervision, case reviews and other methods of reflection and review; and
12.1- be able to use supervision to support and enhance the quality of their social work practice.

 

161. The Panel had real concerns about the way in which the Registrant had been conducting her practice. Her caseload included particularly vulnerable service users and their families. There is evidence that the Registrant had health issues and was under some kind of emotional stress, which appeared to be increasing over the last months of her practice, causing difficulties within the team. Her doctor had advised her to stop work. In addition, her manager JS had also advised that she should rest and persuaded her to attend occupational health.  The Panel felt that her mental wellbeing, affected by stress very much diminished her competence, which the Panel believe accounted for a number of the facts found proved.

162.  However, whilst working she had a responsibility to the Service Users and despite her apparent problems the Panel found that a number of the matters proved were so serious as to amount to misconduct.

163. Of particular concern to the Panel was the breach of confidentiality shown to Young Person A. Trust is a fundamental tenet and principle of social work practice and this breach undermined  the confidence of the young person and possibly the public in both SCC and the social work profession.

164.  The Panel was also very troubled that the registrant had failed to update the legal status of Child B when an interim care order was made. The consequences of this were that it was not recorded that SCC shared parental responsibility with the parents leaving the child vulnerable to harm.

165. The Panel was concerned by the Registrant’s record keeping, but in particular by the five months delay, in updating a parenting assessment in respect of Child D which left the child at risk of harm and indeed the evidence showed that harm was caused.

166. The Panel was also troubled by the serious lack of understanding and awareness regarding the impact of sending an abruptly-toned email to Child G’s Grandparents. This had an impact on the reputation of the Council and confidence in the profession. It was clear from the evidence that the Registrant was resistant to taking advice and seeking support from managers and colleagues.

167. The Panel considered that the above matters represented serious breaches of professional standards, falling far below the behaviour expected of a registered Social Worker, and amounted to misconduct.

168. The Panel therefore found that Particular 1, Particular 2(d), Particular 4(e), Particular 7(d) each amounted to misconduct.

169.  The Panel found that the rest of the matters found proved amounted to lack of competence. It believed it was able to consider a fair sample of the Registrant’s work and that her practice fell below the standard expected of a professional Social Worker.  
Decision on Impairment

170. Having found misconduct and lack of competence, the Panel went on to consider whether, as a result of that misconduct and lack of competence, the Registrant's current fitness to practise is impaired. The Panel took into account all of the evidence, the submissions made by Ms Vignoles, and the written submissions provided by the Registrant.

171. The Registrant’s conduct could be remediable. However is no evidence before the panel that the Registrant has sought in any way to remedy her shortcomings. Although she has stated that she no longer wishes to practise as a Social Worker in the future, the Panel notes that she also wishes to retain her HCPC registration.

172. The evidence that the panel has heard is that the Registrant was resistant to advice or constructive criticism. She seemed to believe that her experience as a Social Worker should make it unnecessary for her to receive feedback. The Panel believes therefore that her conduct is highly likely to recur. She has provided the Panel with no reflection, no evidence of up-to-date training and limited evidence of remorse. The Panel believes that there is a real risk of repetition of her failings.

173. The Panel is particularly concerned at her lack of insight into her behaviour and the effect that it could have had, and indeed in one case did have, on vulnerable Service Users. The Registrant has stated that there was a culture of bullying and intimidation in the department. Although, JS accepted that the team, when she first took over, was an unhappy team and not well functioning, suffering from low morale, she believed that this was largely due to the team restructure leading to an unsettled environment. JS denied that there was a culture of bullying.

174. Having heard all the witnesses the Panel does not accept that the Registrant’s misconduct and lack of competence was due to bullying.

175. The Panel went on to consider whether this was a case that required a finding of impairment on public interest grounds in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the Regulator. The Panel was satisfied that a fully informed member of the public, who was aware of all the background to this case, would have their confidence in the profession and the Regulator undermined if a finding of impairment were not made given the widespread failings and lack of insight of the Registrant. Accordingly, the Panel also found the Registrant’s current fitness to practise impaired on public interest grounds as well as for public protection.

176. The Panel therefore concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction

177. In reaching its decision on sanction, the Panel took into account the submissions made by Ms Vignoles, together with the written submissions provided by the Registrant. The Panel also referred to the “Indicative Sanctions Policy” issued by the HCPC.

178. The Panel had in mind the fact that the purpose of sanctions was not to punish the Registrant, but to protect the public, maintain public confidence in the profession and maintain proper standards of conduct and performance. The Panel was also cognisant of the need to ensure that any sanction is proportionate. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.
179. The Panel considered the aggravating factors in this case to be:

repeated failings in relation to a number of separate service users over a significant period;

a failure to comply with important timescales which were there to safeguard vulnerable children;

a real risk of emotional and physical harm to particularly vulnerable children; and limited insight.

Lack of willingness to accept constructive criticism, feedback and support as part of her professional development

180. The Panel considered the following mitigating factors:

no previous disciplinary record in her career as a Social Worker;

extenuating personal circumstances that may have impacted upon her ability to work to the required standard;

a challenging time at work in which, according to JS, the team was going through a difficult transition;

some remorse, the Registrant having expressed her “regret” at “letting down the families”  with whom she worked.

181. In light of the seriousness of the misconduct, the Panel did not consider this was an appropriate case to take no further action, since this would not protect the public from the risks identified by the Panel.

182. The Panel then considered whether to caution the Registrant. However, the Panel was firmly of the view that such a sanction would not reflect the seriousness of the misconduct in this case. The Registrant’s failings put vulnerable children at risk of harm and the Panel has already concluded that there is a risk of such behaviour being repeated in the event that the Registrant decides to return to social work without remediation. A caution, therefore, would not protect the public from any such risk. The Panel was also of the view that public confidence in the profession, and the HCPC as its Regulator, would be undermined if such behaviour were dealt with by way of a caution.

183. The Panel next considered whether to place conditions on the Registrant’s registration. As identified at the impairment stage, the failings identified are of a kind that could be remedied, and ordinarily conditions might have been considered to be the most appropriate sanction in this case. However, for a Conditions of Practice Order to be effective the Panel has to be satisfied that the Registrant will co-operate with any conditions imposed and to be genuinely committed to resolving the issues highlighted. JS detailed in her supervision plans and performance management meeting notes the areas she identified where the Registrant needed to develop. In light of the Registrant’s clearly stated intention of not intending to return to practise as a Social Worker, her limited insight and limited engagement with this process and her persistent failings over a considerable period of time, it was not possible for the Panel to formulate conditions that would be suitable, workable or realistic.

184. The Panel next considered whether to make a Suspension Order. Such an order would provide the necessary degree of protection for the public, whilst leaving open the possibility of remediation and improved insight in the event that the Registrant decided to return to practise as a Social Worker. The Panel also considered that a Suspension Order would reflect the seriousness of the Registrant’s failings and send out a clear message that such conduct was not to be tolerated. In light of all the matters highlighted in this case, the Panel considered that this was a suitable case for a short period of suspension.

185. The Panel considered that to strike the Registrant from the Register, which is a sanction of last resort, would be disproportionate at this stage and that a lesser sanction was therefore appropriate in this case.

186. Accordingly, the Panel made an Order directing the Registrar to suspend the registration of the Registrant for a period of 6 months.

187. The Panel considered that a reviewing Panel would be assisted by the following:

•the Registrant’s attendance at the review hearing;
•her reflection on the particulars found proved
•evidence of her ongoing professional development as a social worker.
•Up to date testimonials from any employer whether paid or unpaid

 

Order

The Panel decided to impose a 6 month Suspension Order. An Interim Suspension Order was also handed down to cover the appeal period.

Notes

An interim suspension order was imposed to cover the 28 day appeal period.

 

 

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Vivienne Elmes

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
02/10/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended