Mr Ebenezer Narh Dadeboe

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW22798

Hearing Type: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 29/04/2019 End: 17:00 29/04/2019

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

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

Please note that the decision can take up to 5 working days to be uploaded onto the HCPTS website. Please contact one of our Hearings Team Managers via tsteam@hcpts-uk.org or +44 (0)808 164 3084 if you require any further information.

 

Allegation

Whilst employed as a Social Worker by Cumbria County Council between 27

June 2014 and 17 April 2015:

 

  1. 1. In relation to Service User A:

a) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory visit on or around 3 September 2014 into one or more of the following:

 

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 6 February 2015;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 20 March 2015;

 

b) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory visit on or around 15 October 2014 into one or more of the following;

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 20 November 2014;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 31 December 2014;

 

  1. In relation to Service User B:

a) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory visit on or around 30 January 2015 into one or more of the following:

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 20 February 2015;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 2 April 2015;

 

b) you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or more of the following:

i.a statutory visit on or around 10 October 2014;

ii.a statutory visit on or around 22 December 2014;

 

  1. In relation to Service User C, you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory visit on or around 25 September 2014 into one or more of the following:

a) a case note of a statutory visit on or around 7 November 2014;

b) a case note of a statutory visit on or around 19 December 2014;

c) a case note of a statutory visit on or around 23 January 2015;

d) a case note of a statutory visit on or around 25 February 2015;

e) a case note of a statutory visit on or around 9 April 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User D, you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or more of the following:

a) a statutory visit on or around 14 July 2014;

b) a statutory visit on or around 20 August 2014;

c) a statutory visit on or around 25 September 2014;

d) a statutory visit on or around 23 October 2014;

e) a statutory visit on or around 27 November 2014;

f) a statutory visit on or around 20 February 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User E, you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or more of the following:

a) a statutory visit on or around 10 July 2014;

b) a statutory visit on or around 21 August 2014;

c) a statutory visit on or around 30 September 2014;

d) a statutory visit on or around 11 November 2014;

e) a statutory visit on or around 27 January 2015;

f) a statutory visit on or around 30 March 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User F, you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or more of the following:

a) a statutory visit on or around 8 July 2014;

b) a statutory visit on or around 21 August 2014;

c) a statutory visit on or around 3 October 2014;

d) a statutory visit on or around 10 November 2014;

e) a statutory visit on or around 29 January 2015;

f) a statutory visit on or around 6 March 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User G

a) you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or

more of the following:

i.a statutory visit on or around 25 June 2014;

ii.a statutory visit on or around 1 August 2014;

iii. a statutory visit on or around 2 September 2014;

iv.a statutory visit on or around 14 October 2014;

v.a statutory visit on or around 25 November 2014;

 

b) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory

visit on or around 29 December 2014 into the following:

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 18 March 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User H:

a) You did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to the

following:

i.a statutory visit on or around 8 July 2014;

b) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory

visit on or around 12 December 2014 into one or more of the

following:

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 22 January 2015;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 26 February 2015;

iii. a case note of a statutory visit on or around 1 April 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User I:

a) You did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to one or

more of the following:

i.a statutory visit on or around 15 July 2014;

ii.a statutory visit on or around 26 August 2014;

iii. a statutory visit on or around 7 October 2014;

iv.a statutory visit on or around 18 November 2014;

 

b) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory

visit on or around 24 December 2014 into one or more of the

following:

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 3 February 2015;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 3 March 2015;

iii. a case note of a statutory visit on or around 10 April 2015;

 

  1. In relation to Service User J and Service User K:

a) you did not adequately record statutory visits in relation to the following:

i.a statutory visit on or around 30 July 2014;

b) you ‘copied and pasted’ information from a case note of a statutory visit on or around 30 January 2015 into one or more of the following:

i.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 6 March 2015;

ii.a case note of a statutory visit on or around 10 April 2015;

 

  1. Your actions described in particulars 1a, 1b, 2a, 3a-e, 7b, 8b, 9b and/or

10b were dishonest;

 

  1. Your actions described in particulars 1 to 10 constitute misconduct

and/or lack of competence.

 

  1. Your actions described at particular 11 constitute misconduct.

 

  1. By reason of your misconduct and/or lack of competence your fitness

to practise is impaired.

 

Facts proved: 1(a)(i)& (ii),1(b)(i)-(ii), 2(a)(i)-(ii), 2(b)(i)-(ii) 3(a)-(e) ,4(a)-(f), 5(a)-(f), 6(a)-(f), 7(a)(i)-(v), 7(b)(i), 8(a)(i), 8(b)(i)-(iii), 9(a)(i)-(iv), 9(b)(i)-(iii), 10(a)(i), 10(b)(i)-(ii), 11

Finding

Preliminary Matters

1. The Panel was satisfied that appropriate notice of this hearing had been sent to the Registrant at his registered address with the HCPC on 29 March 2019.

Background

2. The Registrant is a Social Worker. He was employed as an Agency Social Worker with Cumbria County Council, commencing in June 2014. He joined the Looked After Children (LAC) Team at West Cumbria Council (“the Council”) and was based in Whitehaven. He worked with vulnerable children in the care of the Local Authority and was contracted to work 37 hours per week.

3. The Registrant had monthly supervision meetings with his line manager. It is alleged that as time went by, he was not progressing his cases swiftly enough. He was given a case direction plan by his line manager, to keep track of cases, where it was identified that action points and case development plans were required. It is recorded that the Registrant had an appropriate workload of between 20-25 cases for an experienced social worker.

4. During a supervision session, the Registrant’s line manager looked at some notes from a random selection of the Registrant’s cases. It was identified that three or four of the notes completed in respect of his statutory visits were identical and are alleged to have been replicated on subsequent case records. Thereafter, an investigation took place and a final report was provided to the Council in May 2015. This identified that in respect of 11 Service Users and in relation to approximately 50 statutory visits, inadequate notes had been kept. It was also alleged that notes from one visit had been copied and pasted by the Registrant and used for subsequent visits.

5. The matter was referred to the HCPC and the Substantive hearing of the Allegation took place over a number of days in October 2017 and in January, April and May 2018, concluding on 4 May 2018. The Registrant admitted that facts but denied dishonesty and misconduct.

6. The panel at the substantive hearing found all the facts proved and it concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his misconduct. That panel found the Registrant had been dishonest, that the facts amounted to misconduct and on 4 May 2018 it imposed a 12 month Suspension Order.

Submissions for the HCPC

7. Ms Simpson reminded the Panel of its powers of review and its need to assess impairment and, if relevant, to consider sanction. She reminded the Panel that this was the first review of the 12 month Suspension Order imposed on 4 May 2019 and advised the Panel of the background.

8. Miss Simpson advised that at the Substantive hearing the panel had found the Registrant to be somewhat defensive and evasive and found that he had been dishonest, preferring the evidence of the witness from the Council, an interim manager. The Registrant did not accept that any Service Users had been placed at risk of harm by his actions. That panel found a high risk of repetition and that fundamental tenets of the profession had been breached by the Registrant.

9. Ms Simpson submitted that the Panel requires to review the Registrant’s fitness to practise as of today and that, if it finds the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired, it may impose the full range of sanctions.

The Registrant’s Evidence and Submissions

10. The Registrant took the oath. He told the Panel of his sadness at being suspended and being unable to say goodbye to his Service Users. He told the Panel that his time at the Council had been difficult and there had been systemic failures. He said many children had no visits, no handover had taken place and he initially had no supervision. He said there was enormous pressure at the time in the Council.

11. The Registrant said that he was aware of the need to learn from his experience and be self-critical and self-aware. He told the Panel about his career history and his work as a Social Worker in other authorities. He accepted that he should have done things differently, and that the prioritisation of visits and documenting those visits was important. He said he has struggled to find paid employment and had been doing voluntary work as a Case worker for the Red Cross helping Asylum Seekers. He said that he has reflected on his practice and is confident that he would not repeat his behaviour and should have done things differently.

12. The Registrant said that he considered he was now ready to return to work as a Social Worker. He said this has been a “wake up call” for him and he deeply regretted letting down the Service Users, their families and the profession. He was committed to delivering a better service and hi key concern was having let down his Service Users. The Registrant told the Panel that he had maintained contact with his social work colleagues and kept himself up to date with social work practice.

13. Miss Simpson questioned the Registrant about his insight and the misconduct found. He said that at the time he lacked the ability to record his work properly on the system, but there had been no immediate safeguarding concerns. If records are not adequate he said that colleagues may not be able to follow a child’s journey and he said that he had never intended to mislead anyone by cutting and pasting his notes.

14. The Registrant also told the Panel about the courses he had undertaken, which included training on record keeping. He said he was also booked on further training for the record keeping system used by the British Red Cross and would undertake that training soon. He explained how his current role with the Red Cross involved record keeping. The Registrant said that he appreciated the need to cope better with similar circumstances in the future and he would prioritise record keeping as he knew it was key to his role as a Social Worker.

15. The Registrant explained his understanding of the risks of not recording visits adequately and what would happen if a colleague required to access the Service User’s records. He accepted that a poor decision about a Service User could be made if visits were not adequately recorded.

16. The Registrant explained he works three days a week at the Red Cross and said he is supervised by a Head Case Worker who was unfortunately not available to provide a reference in time for this hearing. The training he had done for the Red Cross was all compulsory training and he had also completed a Social Work course in June 2018 through his employment agency.

Submissions for the HCPC

17. Miss Simpson summarised the HCPC position and the powers of the Panel to review the substantive order. She reminded the Panel that all sanctions were available to the Panel.

18. She submitted that the Registrant remained impaired. His insight was developing but was not yet fully developed, nor has he fully remediated his practise. She submitted that the absence of a reference from his current employer was not helpful. She submitted that, if it finds no impairment, the Panel ought to let the current Suspension Order expire. If it finds the Registrant impaired as of today, it ought to consider the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy. She suggested that a Conditions of Practice Order may be an appropriate order to impose, but it should be mindful of the finding of dishonesty and the potential for harm to Service Users. She submitted that a Suspension Order may also be appropriate, but that a Striking Order would not.

The Registrant’s Submissions

19. The Registrant said that he fully accepted what had happened. He did not dispute that his actions had created a risk to Service Users given his lack of recording. He said he had reflected and had learned lessons and he had done training. He was keen to return to his social work role and wanted the opportunity to improve his practice, as there was room for improvement. He had 12 years of experience as a Social Worker and he said his actions had not been deliberate. He said he would ensure he would undertake further training in recording and safeguarding to discharge his responsibilities and work independently as a Social Worker.

Decision

20. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He reminded the Panel that its purpose today was to conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant to determine if he is fit to return to unrestricted practice. Its role is not to conduct a rehearing of the allegations or go behind the previous findings. He advised that in carrying out this assessment, the Panel must exercise its own independent judgment and have regard the HCPTS Practice Note on Impairment. The Legal Assessor advised that if the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise remained impaired, it should have regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP) and be mindful of the principles of fairness and proportionality. He reminded the Panel that any sanction it imposes should be the least restrictive order that would suffice to protect the public or is otherwise in the public interest.

21. The Panel considered all the information before it, Miss Simpson’s submissions and the Registrant’s evidence and submissions.

22. Despite the clear indications of the panel at the Substantive hearing, and his current voluntary work for the Red Cross, the Panel was concerned that the Registrant has not provided any reference or testimonials. The Panel has no external confirmation of his current role or any independent evidence addressing the misconduct found.

23. The Panel considered that the Registrant has shown developing insight. He was genuinely remorseful and apologetic and he appeared to have reflected at some length on his behaviour and the risks of his actions on Service Users. He acknowledged and explained the impact of his actions on Service Users, colleagues and the public. However, the Panel noted that, whilst he said that he accepted responsibility for his conduct, he was at times keen to contextualise his actions and he somewhat sought to minimise his actions. He was rather ambiguous in his evidence about whether or not he fully accepted his dishonesty.

24. The Panel concluded that there was evidence of growing insight, but that the Registrant’s insight was not well developed. The findings of misconduct, including dishonesty, are serious and in the circumstances the Panel could not be satisfied that the Registrant would not repeat his behaviour. It accordingly determined that there remains a real risk of repetition.

25. The Panel considered the training courses undertaken by the Registrant but noted that whilst helpful, all appeared to be compulsory courses required by his current employer, the Red Cross. It accepted that the Registrant is due to undertake further relevant training on 15 May 2019 but it was concerned that the Registrant has not in the past 12 months undertaken, on his own initiative, training that specifically addresses the identified failings in his practice. The Panel cannot in these circumstances be satisfied that that the Registrant has fully remediated his practice.

26. The Panel was also mindful of the wider public interest. It determined that in these circumstances, given the nature and gravity of the Allegation found proved, that it is necessary to make a finding of impairment in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and the regulator, and to uphold and declare proper standards.

27. On both the private and the public component of impairment that Panel concluded that the Registrant remains currently impaired.

28. Having found current impairment, the Panel next considered the issue of sanction and the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (ISP). It was mindful of the need to act proportionately and keep the public interest at the forefront of its mind.

29. It determined that a Caution Order was not appropriate in this case, given the seriousness of the findings, including dishonesty, and the lack of developed insight and remediation.

30. The Panel considered that although dishonesty is difficult to remediate, the Registrant has developing insight and has clearly reflected carefully on his behaviour. It had no reason to doubt that the Registrant genuinely recognised the need to improve his practice as a Social Worker and to return to his profession. He has fully engaged with the HCPC process throughout. His dishonesty is at the lower end of the scale and is not the most serious.

31. Bearing in mind the need to act proportionately and fairly the Panel determined that it was able to formulate appropriate, realistic and verifiable conditions of practice that would adequately protect the public and the public interest. The Panel accordingly determined to impose the Conditions of Practice set out in Order which follows.

32. The Panel considered that 12 months is an appropriate period in which to allow the Registrant time to develop and pursue the professional development plan with a suitable supervisor, and, if possible, to find suitable employment as a Social Worker. The Registrant is also at liberty to seek an early review should he consider suitable progress has been made.

33. Should the Registrant be unable to obtain employment as a Social Worker a future reviewing panel may be assisted by :-

• Up to date references or testimonials, from any employer, including voluntary work and/or character references;

• Evidence of an up to date CPD record.

Order

ORDER: The Registrar is directed to annotate the HCPC Register to show that, for a period of 12 months from the date that this Order takes effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Ebenezer Narh Dadeboe must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. Within 6 months of the Operative Date you must:
a. satisfactorily complete a relevant course on record keeping; and
b. forward confirmation to the HCPC.

2. Should you obtain employment as a Social Worker, you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a Social Worker registered by the HCPC (“the Supervisor”) and supply details of the identity of that Supervisor to the HCPC within 4 weeks of the Operative Date. You must attend upon the Supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.

3. Should you obtain employment as a Social Worker, you must work with your Supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan (PDP) designed to address the deficiencies in the following area of your practice:

• Record keeping - addressing the importance of keeping up to date and accurate records of all aspects of your work with service users.

4. Within three months of the Operative Date you must forward a copy of your PDP to the HCPC.

5. You must meet with the Supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your PDP.

6. Fourteen days before the Review of this Order you must send a signed and dated report from the Supervisor about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your PDP plan, including any issues regarding recordkeeping identified in supervision meetings.

7. You must allow the Supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your PDP.

8. Should you obtain employment as a Social Worker you must promptly inform the HCPC, and if you cease to be employed, or take up any other or further employment as a Social Worker.

9. Should you obtain employment as a Social Worker, you must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you.

10. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
A. any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake work as a Social Worker;
B. any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with as a Social Worker (at the time of application); and
C. any prospective employer of you as a Social Worker (at the time of your application).

 

Notes

A Review hearing was held in London on 29 April 2019. The Panel imposed a 12 months Conditions of Practise order. This order comes into effect on 31 May 2019.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Ebenezer Narh Dadeboe

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
29/04/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
30/04/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended
10/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned
19/10/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned