Miss Teresa R Sinden

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW90844

Interim Order: Imposed on 22 Jun 2017

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 02/09/2019 End: 17:00 09/09/2019

Location: Jurys Inn Leeds, Brewery Wharf, Brewery Pl

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Conditions of Practice

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Allegation

Whilst registered as a Social Worker and employed by Hartlepool Borough Council:

1. In relation to Service User A, between approximately 29 March 2016 and September 2016:

a) You did not communicate effectively in that you did not contact and/or respond to messages left by the service user and/or her support worker in a timely manner and/or at all on:

i.19 May 2016;

ii.19 July 2016;

iii.4 August 2016. [HCPC offered no evidence]

iv. 20 July 2016;

v. 5 August 2016;

vi.12 August 2016.

b) You did not complete the process for the Carer’s Emergency Respite Scheme (‘CERCS’) in a timely manner.

c) You did not ensure that the Carer’s Direct Payment was progressed for authorisation in a timely manner.

2. In relation to Service User B:

a) Between approximately 24 June 2016 and 7 9 September 2016, you did not complete and/or record one or more of the following:

i. An assessment of Service User B’s long term needs; [HCPC offered no evidence]

ii. A long term support plan;

iii. An authorisation form;

iv. An end contract.

b) You did not complete a finance referral in a timely manner.

c) You agreed a care package for the service user without a support plan being in place and/or without management authorisation.

3. In relation to Service User C, between approximately 11 April 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) Make initial contact with Service User C in a timely manner;

b) Visit service user C within one week of allocation and/or in a timely manner;

c) Complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days.

4. In relation to Service User D, between approximately 18 July 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) complete and/or record a substantive support plan for respite care;

b) complete and/or record a referral to Occupational Therapy;

c) complete and/or record a referral to the District Nurse;

d) visit Service User D within 2 days of allocation and/or in a timely manner.

5. In relation to Service User F, between approximately 28 September 2015 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) Record any discussions with Service User F’s granddaughter about payment;

b) Update Service User F’s care plan in a timely manner;

c) Set up a direct payment for the service user’s granddaughter in a timely manner.

6. In relation to Service User G, between approximately 29 April 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not communicate effectively with the service user’s family in that you were abrupt and/or aggressive.

7. In relation to Service User H:

a) Between approximately 27 June 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

i. Complete and/or record a re-assessment following the patient’s discharge from hospital;

ii. Complete and/or record an updated support plan following the patient’s discharge from hospital;

iii. Put in place a contract with the care agency.

b) Between approximately 12 July 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not arrange for the case to be discussed by an internal resource panel.

8. In relation to Service User J, between approximately 6 June 2016 and 9 September 2016:

a) You did not complete and/or record an assessment;

b) You did not complete and/or save a copy of the care plan; [HCPC offered no evidence]

c) You did not complete a telecare referral for the service user.

9. In relation to Service User K, between approximately 8 February 2016 and 9 September 2016:

a) You did not complete and/or record a support plan and/or an updated support plan;

b) You did not complete and/or record a care plan. [HCPC offered no evidence]

c) You did not complete and/or record a re-assessment. [HCPC offered no evidence]

10. In relation to Service User L, between approximately 2 March 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not complete and/or record a substantive support plan.

b) Between approximately 14 April 2016 and 7 September 2016, you did not ensure that the assessment completed on 14 April 2016 was authorised. [HCPC offered no evidence]

11. In relation to Service User M, between approximately 9 May 2016 and 9 September 2016, you:

a) did not complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days of being allocated the case;

b) between approximately 9 May 2016 and 17 June 2016, did not contact the service user.

c) did not contact the service user when you were alerted to the service user having had a fall on:

i. 31 May 2016

ii. 4 June 2016

iii. 4 July 2016

12. The matters set out at paragraphs 1 to 11 amount to misconduct and/or lack of competence.

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

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Apology

1. Mr Colin Anderson, of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), addressed the Panel. He explained that the Registrant was not in attendance and that he had no instructions to represent her in her absence. He acknowledged that the hearing had been transferred to Leeds at the request of the Registrant and apologised to the Panel and the HCPTS for any inconvenience caused by her non-attendance. Having no instructions to represent the Registrant further, Mr Anderson withdrew.

Service

2. The Panel heard that Notice in respect of this Hearing was sent by first class post and email to the Registrant’s registered address on 12 August 2019 in accordance with Rules 3 and 6 of the Conduct and Competence Committee Procedure Rules 2003 (the Rules).

3. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and determined that the Notice had been served in accordance with the Rules.

Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant

4. Ms Sharpe invited the Panel to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. In the course of her submissions, she referred the Panel to the Registrant’s email to the HCPC dated 27 August 2019, in which the Registrant stated:

“I will not be attending my final hearing scheduled for 2-9 September 2019…I have sent responses and appendices in the past to the HCPC, and would hope that these could be used to give some insight into my situation and wellbeing at the time of the allegations. I will try to send some updated responses…”

5. Ms Sharpe noted that the Registrant’s email explained her private reasons for not being in attendance, and that the updated responses to which the Registrant referred had been received by the HCPC during the preceding weekend, and copies had been put before the Panel. Ms Sharpe also noted that the hearing had been scheduled to take place in Leeds at the request of the Registrant and that the Registrant was not seeking an adjournment. She informed the Panel that two witnesses were in attendance, and a further two witnesses were scheduled to attend on the second day of the hearing.

6. Ms Sharpe referred the Panel to the guidance contained in the HCPTS Practice Note on “Proceeding in the Absence of the Registrant” and submitted that, in the circumstances, it was appropriate for the Panel to exercise its discretion to proceed on the basis that the Registrant had chosen not to attend the hearing and had waived her right to appear. Ms Sharpe noted that the hearing had been scheduled to take place in Leeds at the request of the Registrant and that the Registrant had not sought an adjournment, but had provided the 41-page bundle of documents referred to above, to which the Panel could have regard if it proceeded with the hearing. Ms Sharpe submitted that the public interest in the expeditious disposal of the Allegation outweighed any disadvantage to the Registrant in proceeding in her absence and that no useful purpose would be served in adjourning the matter.

7. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

8. The Panel was mindful that the discretion to proceed in the absence of a registrant is one which must be exercised with the utmost care and caution and that its decision should be guided by the overarching objective to protect the public. In reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to the nature and circumstances of the Registrant’s behaviour in absenting herself. The Panel noted that, at the request of the Registrant, this hearing had been scheduled to take place in Leeds rather than at the HCPTS hearing centre in London.

9. The Panel took the view that it was clear from the Registrant’s 27 August 2019 email to the HCPC that she was aware of the hearing and had determined not to attend. The Panel noted that the Registrant had not requested an adjournment but had provided extensive documentary material, including “updated responses” in relation to the matters alleged. The Panel considered the latter to be a clear indication that the Registrant expected the Panel to proceed with the hearing in her absence. The Registrant had not requested an adjournment. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had voluntarily absented herself and had waived her right to be present.

10. The Panel considered it was unlikely the Registrant would attend a future hearing. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. The Panel noted that two witnesses were already in attendance, with a further two scheduled to attend on the second day of the hearing. In all the circumstances, the Panel determined that the public interest would best be served by proceeding. Accordingly, the Panel agreed to proceed with the hearing in the absence of the Registrant.

Hearing in Private

11. The Panel noted that references to the Registrant’s health were contained in the Registrant’s 27 August 2019 email to the HCPC. Anticipating the potential for such matters to be discussed during the course of witness evidence, legal submissions, and advice, the Panel raised the question of whether such parts of the hearing should be held in private. Ms Sharpe submitted that they should.

12. The Panel had careful regard to Rule 10(1)(a) of the Rules, which provides:
“At any hearing the proceedings shall be held in public unless the Committee is satisfied that, in the interests of justice or for the protection of the private life of the registrant…or of any patient or client, the public should be excluded from all or part of the hearing.”

13. The Panel was satisfied that, for the protection of the Registrant’s right to a private life, the public should be excluded from those parts of the hearing in which reference was made to her health or private life.

Application to Offer No Evidence / Amend Particulars

14. Ms Sharpe applied to offer no evidence in respect of sub-particulars 1a)iii, 9b), and 10b), and to make other amendments which she said more accurately reflected the evidence in this matter and/or clarified the matters alleged. Ms Sharpe informed the Panel that notice of the proposed changes to the particulars had been sent to the Registrant by first class post on 18 June 2019. No objection had been received.

15. Ms Sharpe informed the Panel that sub-particulars 1a)iii and 10b) were not supported by the evidence and that, in these circumstances, they could not be taken forward by the HCPC. She informed the Panel that the HCPC wished to offer no evidence in respect of sub-particular 9b), which alleged failings in relation to a care plan for Service User K, because it effectively duplicated sub-particular 9a), which alleged failings in relation to a support plan for the same service user. Ms Sharpe explained that care plans and support plans are one and the same. In the circumstances, she submitted that it was appropriate, fair, and reasonable for the HCPC to offer no evidence in respect of each of the three sub-particulars.

16. Ms Sharpe took the Panel through each of the proposed amendments to the wording of individual sub-particulars. Some involved minor date changes which more accurately reflected the HCPC evidence and which did not materially alter the case against the Registrant; some further particularised the facts alleged, thereby providing greater clarity as to what was and was not alleged; some involved changes in wording for the purpose of clarifying what was and was not alleged. Ms Sharpe submitted that none of the proposed amendments significantly altered the case against the Registrant and none would cause injustice to the Registrant.

17. In respect of particular 10, Ms Sharpe stated that the HCPC no longer wished to insert the words “within 28 days of allocation” as this did not reflect the evidence in the matter.

18. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

19. The Panel was satisfied that, in the circumstances outlined by Ms Sharpe, it would be appropriate to permit the HCPC to offer no evidence in respect of sub-particular 9b), as it would be unfair to the Registrant if sub-particular 9a) were in effect to be charged twice. Similarly, it would be appropriate to permit the HCPC to offer no evidence in respect of sub-particular 1a)iii and 10b) because the evidence did not support either charge and, as a consequence, those matters could not be proved.

20. The Panel was satisfied that the amendments sought by the HCPC at the start of the hearing were appropriate, would not significantly alter the case against the Registrant, would cause no injustice, and would more clearly and accurately reflect the case against the Registrant. The Panel was further satisfied that, in respect of particular 10, it was fair and appropriate for the previously proposed addition of the words “within 28 days of allocation” not to be made. For all these reasons, the Panel acceded to each of Ms Sharpe’s applications.

Background

21. The Registrant began her employment with Hartlepool Borough Council (“HBC”) on 27 April 1992 as an instructor in the day centre for people with a learning disability, and progressed as a Social Worker (now Band 11) in Child and Adult Services. At the times in issue, the Registrant worked in a Social Work Locality Team in which she was responsible for service users aged 18 and above with an eligibility need.

22. On 15 August 2016, Service User A submitted a complaint regarding the Registrant’s alleged delays and poor communication. JC was appointed as Independent Investigating Officer for this complaint in August 2016. On 8 September 2016, the Registrant went on sick leave and did not return to work.

23. In October 2016, RL was appointed to conduct an investigation in relation to the Registrant’s interaction with Service User G, following an earlier complaint from Service User G’s family member.

24. In March 2017, the HCPC received a referral from HBC regarding concerns about the Registrant’s conduct and performance. The referral detailed allegations that the Registrant had not completed required actions in respect of a number of service users.

Decision on Facts

25. In considering the particulars, the Panel was mindful that the burden of proving the facts is on the HCPC, that the Registrant is not required to prove anything, and that any fact alleged is only to be found proved if the Panel is satisfied on the balance of probabilities.

26. In reaching its decision on the facts, the Panel carefully considered all the documentary and oral evidence, together with the submissions of Ms Sharpe and the written representations of the Registrant. During the course of the hearing, additional representations and supporting documents which had been provided by the Registrant were put before the Panel.

27. The Panel heard oral evidence from JC, a registered Social Worker and Independent Investigating Officer who conducted HBC’s investigation into the complaint lodged by Service User A. The Panel found JC to be a credible and consistent witness whose evidence appeared balanced and unbiased. She was open about those areas of her testimony where her memory had been impaired by the corrosive effect of time and where she did not know the answers to questions put to her. The Panel considered that the value of her testimony was limited by the fact that her investigation had been conducted without the benefit of an interview with the Registrant and was heavily reliant on hearsay evidence.

28. The Panel then heard oral evidence from RL, a registered Social Worker and Independent Investigator who conducted HBC’s investigation into a complaint lodged by the family of Service User G. The Panel found him to be an experienced investigator who provided clear evidence. However, the Panel considered that the value of his testimony was severely limited by the fact that his investigation had focused on the alleged conduct of the Registrant at a single meeting, in respect of which he had neither spoken with the Registrant nor any impartial witness. By his own account, the only witnesses to the alleged incident with whom he had spoken were a member of Service User G’s family and a friend of the family. His investigation was heavily reliant on hearsay evidence and he told the Panel that even if he had spoken with the Registrant about her version of events, he would not have believed her.

29. The Panel next heard oral evidence from SA, a registered Social Worker who, at the times in issue, had been the Registrant’s immediate Line Manager and had carried out supervision. The Panel found her to have sound and detailed knowledge of relevant policies and procedures, although there were occasions when she appeared to have less detailed recollection of specific events than the Panel would have expected. The Panel considered that she strove to assist it and to give fair and balanced evidence while maintaining corporate loyalty.

30. Finally, the Panel heard oral evidence from BN, a registered Social Worker who at all material times was employed by HBC as a Team Manager in the Locality Assessment Team. His statement was generalised and did not go to any of the factual issues which the Panel was required decide. His answers to questions were similarly generalised and at times contrary to the evidence of other witnesses. The Panel found that he did not always provide direct answers to direct questions and he appeared evasive at times.

31. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

Further Applications to Offer No Evidence

32. During the course of the hearing, Ms Sharpe applied to offer no evidence in respect of sub-particulars 2a)i, 8b), and 9c):

• In respect of sub-particular 2a)i, Ms Sharpe noted that SA had identified within the HCPC exhibits bundle a 15 August 2016 completed assessment of Service User B’s long term needs. In the circumstances, she submitted that the matter alleged was no longer capable of proof.

• In respect of sub-particular 8b), she noted that SA had identified within the HCPC exhibits bundle a completed assessment of Service User K’s long term needs which had taken place on 17 June 2016. In the circumstances, she submitted that the matter alleged was no longer capable of proof.

• In respect of sub-particular 9c), she noted that SA had identified within the HCPC exhibits bundle an assessment dated 29 April 2016 of Service User J’s long term needs. Though it appeared that the assessment was not completed within the relevant period because it was not authorised until 7 October 2016, SA confirmed that an authorisation form dated 29 April 2016 was completed in relation to this assessment, and that a further assessment was not required. In the circumstances, Ms Sharpe submitted that the matter alleged was no longer capable of proof.

33. The Panel was satisfied that, in the circumstances outlined by Ms Sharpe, it would be fair, appropriate, and reasonable to permit the HCPC to offer no evidence in respect of each of the three sub-particulars because the evidence did not support the matters alleged and, as a consequence, they were not capable of proof.

Particular 1a)i, ii, iv, v, and vi – Not Found Proved
Particular 1a)vi – Found Proved.

1. In relation to Service User A, between approximately 29 March 2016 and September 2016:

a) You did not communicate effectively in that you did not contact and/or respond to messages left by the service user and/or her support worker in a timely manner and/or at all on:

i.19 May 2016;

ii.19 July 2016;

iii.4 August 2016. [HCPC offered no evidence]

iv. 20 July 2016;

v. 5 August 2016;

vi.12 August 2016.

34. JC, a registered Social Worker and Independent Investigating Officer who conducted HBC’s investigation into a complaint lodged against HBC, explained to the Panel the system by which calls and communications to HBC were received, processed, and logged in order to create a clear audit trail. JC stated that she had examined HBC’s electronic database, CareFirst, which she had used to produce a table setting out the calls received and messages left for the Registrant in respect of Service User A’s case. JC told the Panel that the system was that the person who took the initial message would inform the relevant Social Worker of the message by email. It was “part of the social worker’s role to add the relevant information to the service user’s electronic record, such as receipt of and response to any messages.”

35. JC stated, “I also looked at Hartlepool Carer’s records … AG, who was supporting Service User A, worked at Hartlepool Carers and would try to telephone the Registrant on Service User A’s behalf … I was … able to cross-reference the messages that had been left with any records made onto the electronic database.”

36. JC told the Panel, “During the period May to August 2016, I am reasonably certain that Service User A was not getting through to [the Registrant] at all.”

37. In respect of particular 1a)i, JC stated, “On 19 May 2016 a message was left with an OT Assistant for [the Registrant] to call Service User A. This message was emailed to [the Registrant] – no response to this message was evident within the electronic database.”

38. In respect of particular 1a)ii, JC stated, “On 19 July 2016 a message was left with the Team Clerk for [the Registrant] to call Service User A. This message was emailed to [the Registrant] – no response to this message was evident within the electronic database.”

39. In respect of Particular 1a)iv, JC stated, “On 20 July 2016 a message was left with the Team Clerk for [the Registrant] to call AG. This message was emailed to [the Registrant] – no response to this message was evident.”

40. In respect of Particular 1a)v, JC stated, “On 5 August 2016 [the Registrant] was due to contact Service User A ... However, there is no evidence of her contacting Service User A … within the electronic database.”

41. In respect of Particular 1a)vi, JC stated, “On 12 August 2016 [the Registrant] spoke with Service User A and stated that she would call back after making further enquiries – there is no evidence of a call back within the electronic database. On 12 August 2016 a message was left with the Team Clerk for [the Registrant] to call AG. This message was emailed to [the Registrant] – no response to this message was evident.”

42. In answer to questions from the Panel, SA and BN said there was no formal policy requiring Social Workers to respond to telephone calls and emails within a set period of time. BN said the expectation was that they would do so as soon as possible in the circumstances, recognising the demands of their work commitments and schedules. He said that messages flagged as urgent would be responded to by another team. He confirmed that the calls and emails referred to in Particular 1a) were non-urgent.

43. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “I did communicate with Service User A but I didn’t document every phone call due to the demands of work (taking calls whilst working on another case.) I acknowledge and regret that the recording of these conversations as [sic] a weakness in my practice in relation to service user A. The chronology of events shows there were telephone calls from service user A which I didn’t respond; for this I am extremely sorry.”

44. The Panel had careful regard to:

• JC’s Independent Investigating Officer’s Report dated 13 December 2016.

• The Complaint Plan produced by JC after consultation with Service User A at interview on 15 September 2016.

• Service User A’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that JC’s evidence in relation to sub-particulars 1a)i, ii, iv, v, and vi was in accord with these documents.

45. The Panel examined the records in relation to each sub-particular:

• In relation to 1a)i, the Panel noted that the message was logged on Friday 19 May 2016 and that the Registrant had replied on the following Monday, 23 May 2016. The Registrant made two attempts to call that day, but both calls were ineffective. In the circumstances, the Panel considered this to be a reasonable time within which to respond given the intervening weekend, in the context of the Registrant’s workload, and it was not satisfied that the Registrant did not communicate effectively in regard to this message.

• In relation to 1a)ii, the Panel noted that the message was logged on Tuesday 19 July 2016 and that the Registrant had responded to Hartlepool Carers/the support worker on Thursday 21 July 2016. The Panel considered this to be a reasonable time within which to respond in the circumstances and was not satisfied that the Registrant did not communicate effectively in regard to this message.

• In relation to 1a)iv, the Panel noted that the message was logged on Wednesday 20 July 2016 and that the Registrant had responded to Hartlepool Carers/the support worker the following day. The Panel considered this to be a reasonable time within which to respond in the circumstances and was not satisfied that the Registrant did not communicate effectively in regard to this message.

• In relation to 1a)v, the Panel noted that the message was logged on Friday 4 August 2016 and that the Registrant had responded on Monday 8 August 2016. The Panel considered this to be a reasonable time within which to respond in the circumstances and was not satisfied that the Registrant did not communicate effectively in regard to this message.
 
• In relation to 1a)vi, the Panel noted that the message was logged on Friday 12 August 2016 and that the Registrant had responded on Monday 15 August 2016. The Panel also noted that the Registrant had said she would call back in 20 minutes. The Panel considered that, as the Registrant had said she would return the call within 20 minutes, she set an expectation that she did not fulfill. Therefore, in this respect, the Panel found she did not communicate effectively.

Particular 1b) – Found Proved.

b) You did not complete the process for the Carer’s Emergency Respite Scheme (‘CERCS’) in a timely manner.

46. JC told the Panel, “It would be the social worker’s responsibility to progress the assessment process and ensure that an emergency plan is completed where necessary … the initial referral made in February 2016 was for a Carer’s Assessment to be undertaken. The respite plan should have been part of that overall assessment … On 22 April 2016 [the Registrant] first met with Service User A … Sufficient information to complete the respite plan was subsequently gathered from the family on 23 June 2016 … this was the point at which sufficient information was gathered to put in place a CERCS. However, this information was not entered onto the electronic system until 5 August 2016. The information was not added to the Carer Support Plan until the same date, at which point it became ready for authorisation. I was unable to find any valid reason for such long delays … BN and SA confirmed in interview that it was not normal practice for assessment of a carer to take such a long time to complete and that it should be possible for the whole process to be completed in one to four weeks.”

47. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “There was a delay in completing the Carer’s Emergency Respite Scheme (CERCS) for which I am sincerely sorry. I did fail to attend one meeting at service user A’s father’s house … as I was held up at a meeting at the hospital. I tried to telephone service user A twice that day but didn’t manage to contact her. I rang service user A the following day to apologise; she accepted my apology and we set up another meeting. It was at this second meeting that I carried out the registration for CERCS.”

48. The Panel had careful regard to:

• JC’s Independent Investigating Officer’s Report dated 13 December 2016.

• The Complaint Plan produced by JC after consultation with Service User A at interview on 15 September 2016.

• Service User A’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that JC’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 1b) was in accord with these documents.

49. The Panel noted that the delay in this matter had extended over a period of four months. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant did not complete the process for Service User A’s CERCS in a timely manner.

Particular 1c) – Found Proved.

c) You did not ensure that the Carer’s Direct Payment was progressed for authorisation in a timely manner.

50. JC stated, “It is the responsibility of the social worker managing the family’s case to progress the payment, however … the payment is authorised by someone else … In this case, the delay was getting the payment to the authorisation stage; [the Registrant] would have needed to enter the payment onto the system and processed it, before it was authorised … I could not find any evidence of any reason which would have led to the delay in processing this particular payment. It just did not seem to get to the point it needed to be for authorisation to be made. BN & SA advised me that it was very unusual for payments such as this to take so long to be processed and that such delays were not custom and practice within the rest of the team. Although the money was eventually deposited, the issue in this case was the delay of quite a few months.”

51. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “…following the assessment and service user A contacting me with the bank details I could not locate where I’d recorded the details … Within a day or two of her giving me the details for a second time, I located the original recording … A second reason for the delay in service user A’s direct payment was that I was advised to re-work her plan and ask service user A to work with other services before my managers would authorise the assessment and care plan.”

52. The Panel had careful regard to:

• JC’s Independent Investigating Officer’s Report dated 13 December 2016.

• The Complaint Plan produced by JC after consultation with Service User A at interview on 15 September 2016.

• Service User A’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that JC’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 1c) was in accord with these documents.

53. The Panel noted that although Service User A had provided her bank details to the Registrant on 27 May 2016, the Registrant did not process the payment to authorisation stage until 8 August 2016, by which time most of the summer holiday period had already passed. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant did not ensure that the Carer’s Direct Payment was progressed for authorisation in a timely manner.

Particular 2a)ii, iii, and iv – Found Proved.

2. In relation to Service User B:

a) Between approximately 24 June 2016 and 7 9 September 2016, you did not complete and/or record one or more of the following:

i. [HCPC offered no evidence]

ii. A long term support plan;

iii. An authorisation form;

iv. An end contract.

54. With regard to the completion/recording of long term support plans, SA told the Panel, “Once an assessment has been conducted to identify a service user’s needs, a support/care plan is put in place … A basic support plan is usually implemented to get a service user out of hospital. This is just a quick fix and once the service user has been out of hospital for six weeks, they should move onto a long term support plan … At approximately the four to five week mark, the allocated Social Worker should arrange a review of services. This would involve going back out to the service user, conducting a full assessment/review to identify if long term support is needed and formulating a support plan. The document itself is initially completed by the allocated Social Worker on the electronic system … All support plans should be entered onto the electronic system. The allocated worker would complete an authorisation form and the team manager would sign to authorise it.”

55. SA stated, “On 27 June 2016 [the Registrant] completed a basic support plan for Service User B and an intermediate care package was implemented on her discharge from the hospital on 29 June 2016. Seven weeks later, by 13 August 2016, no assessment had been arranged to review Service User B’s long term needs. A support plan was opened on the system in [the Registrant’s] name on 19 August 2016, however had only been created and was not completed. A long term support plan was not completed on the system until February 2017, which was after [the Registrant] left the Council…”

56. With regard to the completion/recording of authorisation forms, SA told the Panel, “Whenever a social worker completes a piece of work, for example a support plan, they will also complete an authorisation form, which they will give to the Principal Practitioner or the Team Manager. We will then sign that authorisation form to approve the piece of work that has been completed … The allocated Social Worker would need to create the form on the electronic system and fill in the relevant sections … This is usually completed and provided to us at the same time as the relevant piece of work. The completed authorisation form would then be scanned onto another of the Council’s electronic systems by admin. In this case, as no support plan was completed or given to me for authorisation, there was also no authorisation form completed. The only authorisation form on the system is the one completed by the worker who eventually completed the support plan for Service User B.”

57. With regard to the completion/recording of end contracts, SA told the Panel that when a service user is discharged from hospital a contract is prepared which sets out for the intermediate period what care is to be provided and when. “Once that intermediate care comes to an end, we then need to complete an end contract to say on which date care would end … This should be done at the six week mark … In order to do this, a contract form would need to be hand written, by the allocated Social Worker and given straight to the administrative staff, who would enter it onto the system to end the care … In this case, it appears that the initial contract for Service User B’s intermediate care was not ended, despite this lady being past the six week mark. There was no evidence on either of the systems of an end contract being completed and according to the financial system, the intermediate care continued from 27 June 2016 to 12 March 2017.”

58. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “I started to record the support plan, but accept I did not complete it before going on sick leave. I completed an authorisation for the assessment but not the support plan, as I did not complete the plan. There was no intent to deceive anyone through my inactions. I apologise for any distress caused to the family or service user B. When a new support plan is put in place a new contract is sent to the agency or person providing the support. I am suggesting that I completed a new contract and care spec for my records, but did not send them. A social worker would only send the contract following authorisation of the new support plan. I would expect that the new contract was inside the file of service user B when I was on sick leave prior to leaving the department.”

59. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Assessment Procedure.

• Service User B’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particulars 2a) ii, iii, and iv was in accord with these documents.

60. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User B and on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a long term support plan, an authorisation form, and an end contract. Whether or not she had completed and recorded a new contract is not a matter which the Panel is required to decide.

Particular 2b) – Found Proved.

b) You did not complete a finance referral in a timely manner.

61. SA told the Panel, “The maximum amount of time a service user can be offered free intermediate care is six weeks. After this point the care becomes chargeable … We are just responsible for making the referral to the financed team, so that an assessment can be conducted and the service user can be informed of what their contribution will be. In terms of the process for completing a finance referral form, the allocated Social Worker would need to complete a form on the electronic system. That form would then be reassigned to the finance team … In this case, a finance referral was not made until some weeks later. From Service User B’s records, it appears that the finance referral was opened and sent to the finance team on 5 September 2016. This should have been done on 6 August 2016, which would have been the six week mark … If a finance referral form is not completed in a timely manner, this will have an impact on the service user. The cost of care will be building up after the six week mark and the service user could end up in quite a bit of debt…”

62. In her written representations the Registrant did not accept the dates specified by SA and suggested that a finance referral was not required as the intermediate care package had been extended.

63. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Procedure Following a Request for a Financial Assessment.

• Service User B’s Records

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 2b) was in accord with these documents.

64. While the Registrant had suggested that a finance referral had not been required on this occasion, the Panel accepted SA’s evidence that when intermediate care ends and a service user has long term needs, a referral is required. In the panel’s view this was such a case and there had been a delay of approximately one month. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User B, the Registrant did not complete a finance referral in a timely manner.

Particular 2c) – Found Proved.

c) You agreed a care package for the service user without a support plan being in place and/or without management authorisation.

65. SA told the Panel, “Fourteen hours of intermediary care was implemented for Service User B when she was discharged from hospital. This care package continued after the six week mark, despite there being no support plan put in place … It is normal practice for a service user’s care package to be agreed as part of their support plan, after the review of their needs. That care package would then begin once the support plan had been authorised by management …  Essentially, on this case [the Registrant] had agreed a form of care package for the service user but without putting in place a long term support plan with management approval.”

66. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “The package of care … was the same as service user B had been receiving since her return home … Thus I did not agree a new package of support … This was not done with the intent to deceive anyone involved … I would not have gained authorisation because the support plan had not been completed … This happened because I did not manage to complete the support plan, and in turn the package of support did not change.”

67. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Care Planning Procedure.

• Service User B’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 2c) was in accord with these documents. It noted that the sub-particular did not allege that the Registrant had agreed a new or different support package.

68. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User B, the Registrant agreed a care package for the service user without a support plan being in place and/or without management authorisation.

Particular 3a), b), and c) – Found Proved.

3. In relation to Service User C, between approximately 11 April 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) Make initial contact with Service User C in a timely manner;

b) Visit service user C within one week of allocation and/or in a timely manner;

c) Complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days.

69. SA told the Panel that Service User C had been placed in a care home on 29 March 2016, with a view to an assessment being conducted as soon as possible. She stated, “[The Registrant] was allocated Service User C’s case on 11 April 2016 … From allocation, the first visit should have been within one week and an assessment should have been completed within 28 days. [The Registrant] did not make contact with Service User C until 18 May 2016 and that was only because a relative called to speak to someone. [The Registrant] had not made any attempts to contact Service User C prior to that. [The Registrant] subsequently went out to visit Service User C on 8 June 2016. This was almost two months after she had been allocated the case … Service User C was eventually assessed on 2 August 2016 by another worker.”

70. In her written representations the Registrant did not address the matters alleged in particular 3, save that in relation to the previously worded allegation that between 8 August and 3 October 2016 she did not complete and/or record an assessment, she stated, “During my visits to service user C I made contemporaneous notes to support a new assessment, following a review. It was difficult to get all the family together and it was decided between them that the daughter of service user C would be the person to attend a formal review and represent the family. The daughter was away on holiday until late September … I do accept that if I had made contact earlier things would have progressed sooner. However, I was working through the action plan in order of priority … I was … feeling unwell … only working 3 days of that week. In view of my failings in this case I offer my sincere apologies to the family of service user C and her if she experienced any stress because of my actions.”

71. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• Service User C’s Records

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to Particular 3 in its entirety was in accord with these documents.

72. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• Service User C’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to particular 3 in its entirety was in accord with these documents.

73. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User C on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not make initial contact with Service User C in a timely manner, visit Service User C within one week of allocation and/or in a timely manner, or complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days.

Particular 4a) – Found Proved.

4. In relation to Service User D, between approximately 18 July 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) complete and/or record a substantive support plan for respite care;

74. SA told the Panel, “When [the Registrant] was allocated this case on 18 July 2016, she was told that the service user’s daughter, who she lived with, was going away on holiday on 29 July 2016. Respite care was therefore required to support Service User D while her daughter was away. Given the short time available, [the Registrant] would have been expected to go out and visit the service user within the following day or two after allocation. She would then have needed to complete a support plan, as above, but this would be for respite care as opposed to long term care.”

75. SA told the Panel, “Service User D went into a care home on 28 July 2016, for the respite period. An assessment and support plan should have been completed prior to her going into the home … An assessment was completed on 27 July 2016 and a basic support plan created. More information was needed however, as the basic plan only provides limited information. A full support plan should therefore have been completed within 72 hours of the service user being in the care home. There was no evidence that this was done by [the Registrant].”

76. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “I was never advised by any member of management that this plan should have been a comprehensive support plan … I was told to do an assessment, but only a basic plan.”

77. In response to questions from Ms Sharpe, SA accepted that she might have told the Registrant to complete only a basic plan in the first instance. She told the Panel that such a course was not uncommon as an interim measure when there was a need for urgent action, but a full support plan would be expected to be completed within 72 hours of the service user taking up a place in the home. SA said the Registrant would or should have known this.

78. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• Support Planning Guidance publications: In Control ‘What Needs to be in a Support Plan?’; In Control ‘Support Planning’; CSIP ‘Support Planning with Older People’; ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Support Planning’; In Control ‘Support Plan Panel Checklist’; In Control ‘Agreeing the Plan’; ‘My Support Plan’ Template.

• Service User D’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 4a) was in accord with these documents.

79. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User D on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a substantive support plan for respite care.

Particular 4b) – Found Proved.

b) complete and/or record a referral to Occupational Therapy;

80. SA told the Panel that after the Registrant had gone on sick leave, her cases were re-allocated to another Social Worker. That individual had identified that Service User D was at risk when getting in and out of the bath and that a referral to Occupational Therapy was required to consider what equipment could be provided to assist her in doing that safely and to help her return home. SA said that the electronic recording evidenced that the referral then took place.

81. In her written representations the Registrant did not deny that she had not completed or recorded a referral to Occupational Therapy, but she appeared to dispute the need for or feasibility of an effective referral. She stated, “…this would have been highlighted in a review and actioned if agreed. At the point of my initial assessment there was a lot of reluctance to additional support in the home. There was a Nurse from Mental Health Services involved in the care of service user D, and she had not been able to engage service user D or her daughter in any other service either.”

82. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department OT – Care Management Procedure.

• Service User D’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 4b) was in accord with these documents.

83. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User D on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a referral to Occupational Therapy.

Particular 4c) – Found Proved

c) complete and/or record a referral to the District Nurse;

84. SA told the Panel that after the Registrant had gone on sick leave and her cases were re-allocated to another Social Worker, that individual had also made a referral for District Nurses to assist in Service User D’s care as there were issues with incontinence. SA stated that this referral also should have been made by the Registrant.

85. In her written representations, the Registrant did not deny that she had not completed or recorded a referral to Occupational Therapy. She stated: “Once again there was nothing conveyed to me during the assessment process, that would warrant a referral to a District Nurse. Neither did I receive any information from the care home that would indicate such a referral was needed.”

86. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Enquiry/Referral Procedure – Duty (Adults).

• Service User D’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 4c) was in accord with these documents.

87. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User D on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a referral to the District Nurse.

Particular 4d) – Found Not Proved

d) visit Service User D within 2 days of allocation and/or in a timely manner.

88. The Panel had in mind the evidence of SA, set out above, that, “When [the Registrant] was allocated this case on 18 July 2016 … she would have been expected to go out and visit the service user within the following day or two after allocation.

89. SA also told the Panel, “There is evidence within Service User D’s records that [the Registrant] telephoned the service user’s daughter the day after she was allocated the case to arrange a visit for 20 July 2016 … There is no record on the system of any observation or to confirm that she had visited the service user.”

90. Ms Sharpe referred the Panel to the Assessment Form which had been prepared by the Registrant and which recorded the start date of assessment as “26/07/2016”. She submitted that there was no evidence that the Registrant had visited the service user any earlier and that the Panel could therefore conclude on the balance of probabilities that she had not done so within two days of allocation and/or in a timely manner.

91. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “I was allocated this case on 18,7,2016, [sic] I contacted the Daughter of service user D ON 19,7,2016, [sic] and arranged to meet them the following day, this was the commencement of my assessment on 20,7,2016 [sic]. I apologise to the panel for not recording my initial visit. The visit was at 4pm, it went on for more than 1 hour, and I went straight home following the visit. However I accept that I should have completed an observation the next day. However I can assure the panel, that I did visit the service user and her Daughter as soon as was possible following allocation.”

92. The Panel had careful regard to Service User D’s Records. The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 4d) was in accord with these documents. It noted that the start date recorded on the assessment form was 26 July 2016.

93. The Panel noted that the Registrant made a telephone call to Service User D’s daughter scheduling an appointment within 24 hours. SA conceded in her evidence that an interview had taken place but she could not say when it had taken place. The Panel considered that the extent of the detail contained within the records relating to the Service User made it clear that a lengthy interview had to have taken place prior to the holiday period. The Panel noted that all the necessary arrangements were put in place prior to Service User D’s daughter going on holiday and, in these circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the assessment was carried out in a timely manner. In all the circumstances, the Panel could not be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the Registrant did not visit Service User D within two days of allocation, nor could it be satisfied that she had not visited Service User D in a timely manner.

Particular 5a) - Found Proved

5. In relation to Service User F, between approximately 28 September 2015 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

a) Record any discussions with Service User F’s granddaughter about payment;

94. SA told the Panel that the Registrant was allocated Service User F’s case on 28 September 2015 and that the Registrant made an agreement with her that the Service User’s granddaughter could be her Personal Assistant. Instead of an external agency providing care for Service User F, the granddaughter would be paid to do so. It was agreed that she would be paid for 20 hours per week.

95. SA stated, “there is no evidence on the electronic system that the payment was authorised or entered onto the system. I was also unable to find any evidence of the discussion between Service User F’s granddaughter and the Registrant at which this agreement was reached. I understand that discussions first began in May 2016 in relation to this, as on 11 May 2016 [the Registrant] discussed this case with me and I advised her that the granddaughter would be the best person to support Service User F.”

96. The Registrant provided no written representations in respect of this sub-particular.

97. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Procedure Following a Request for a Financial Assessment.

• Service User F’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 5a) was in accord with these documents.

98. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User F on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not record any discussions with Service User F’s granddaughter about payment.

Particular 5b) - Found Not Proved

b) Update Service User F’s care plan in a timely manner;

99. SA told the Panel that, “Once the care agreement had been reached, [the Registrant] would have needed to discuss with the family the implications of becoming a carer and confirm that they were willing to take on that responsibility. Service User F’s support plan should then have been updated to reflect that care was not going to be provided by an agency, but by the service user’s granddaughter as a Personal Assistant. This was done on 12 August 2016.” In response to a question from Ms Sharpe, SA stated that the Plan should have been updated before the new care and support was provided. For this reason, Service User F’s care plan had not been updated in a timely manner.

100. The Registrant provided no written representations in respect of this sub-particular.

101. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Care Planning Procedure.

• Service User F’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to Sub-particular 5b) was in accord with these documents.

102. However, the Panel noted that the support plan was updated within five days and, in these circumstances, it was the Panel’s view that this was done in a timely manner. The Panel noted also that a weekend fell within this period of time.

103. In all the circumstances, the Panel was not satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User F on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not update Service User F’s care plan in a timely manner.

Particular 5c) - Found Proved

c) Set up a direct payment for the service user’s granddaughter in a timely manner.

104. SA told the Panel that the agency care ceased on 7 August 2016 and that Service User F’s granddaughter had telephoned HBC on 12 October 2016 to state that she had been supporting her grandmother as agreed with the Registrant, but that she had not been paid. SA stated, “That is when it was discovered that the payment had not been set up and action was taken to set it up as a priority, as that meant that she had been working as a Personal Assistant caring for Service User F but was not being paid for that and had no liability cover.”

105. The Registrant provided no written representations in respect of this sub-particular.

106. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Care Planning Procedure.

• Service User F’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 5c) was in accord with these documents.

107. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User F on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not set up a direct payment for the service user’s granddaughter in a timely manner.

Particular 6 - Not Found Proved

6. In relation to Service User G, between approximately 29 April 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not communicate effectively with the service user’s family in that you were abrupt and/or aggressive.

108. RL told the Panel that he had conducted an investigation on behalf of HBC into a complaint made by Person A, the daughter-in-law of Service User G. The main focus of the investigation was in relation to a Review Meeting on 30 August 2016 at Service User G’s care home, during the course of which the Registrant was alleged to have been aggressive. Present at the meeting had been Person A, Person D (Person A’s husband), Person B (a family friend), the Care Home Manager, and the Registrant.

109. RL told the Panel that Person A and Person B had told him that during the course of the meeting the Registrant had said, “I shouldn’t be here today, I’m not well.” Further, that she had said to Person B, “I wish you would shut your mouth, I am already on a warning”.

110. RL told the Panel that he had not interviewed the Registrant to hear her version of events as, “I was informed that [the Registrant] was on unplanned sick leave at the time, so would not be available to meet with me.” He also stated that, “I was not able to speak to anyone impartial of the complainants who had been present at the review meeting, as I understand that the Manager of the care home had left the room to get some documents when the alleged incident occurred.”

111. In her written representations, the Registrant roundly denied the allegation, characterising it as ‘damning’ and ‘untrue’, stating, “I did communicate appropriately with service user G and his family”, and providing her own detailed account of the review meeting.

112. The Panel first considered whether it could be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant had been abrupt and/or aggressive as alleged. The Panel noted that RL had not had the benefit of hearing the Registrant’s account of the meeting or the accounts of “anyone impartial of the complainants”. Further, it noted that the HCPC had not put before it direct evidence from anyone who had been present at the meeting. In the Panel’s judgment, only minimal weight could be given to the hearsay evidence provided by RL in relation to what had occurred at the meeting. For this reason, the Panel could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the Registrant had been abrupt and/or aggressive, and it was not open to the Panel to go on to consider whether the Registrant did not communicate effectively with the service user’s family.

Particular 7a)i, ii, and iii – Found Proved

7. In relation to Service User H:

a) Between approximately 27 June 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not:

i. Complete and/or record a re-assessment following the patient’s discharge from hospital;

ii. Complete and/or record an updated support plan following the patient’s discharge from hospital;

iii. Put in place a contract with the care agency.

113. SA told the Panel that there had been a number of issues with Service User H’s son and her agency carers. She said, “the case required re-assessment to try and manage the issues with the son and the care agency and to establish what level of care the service user required … [The Registrant] was allocated Service User H’s case on 27 June 2016. On allocation, she would have been expected to consider all the issues … she would have been required to go out to visit the service user to conduct a reassessment…”

114. With regard to re-assessment and an updated support plan, SA told the Panel, “[the Registrant] would have been required to reassess and review all of Service User H’s needs and update any support plan to reflect her current needs … From allocation in June 2016 to September 2016, when we discussed the case in supervision, no progress was made by [the Registrant] in terms of an assessment, despite quite a significant change in the service user’s needs. There was no evidence of any reassessment or an updated support plan on the electronic system … As there was no evidence of a reassessment or updated support plan, this meant that the agency who were providing care to Service User H did not have any up to date information in relation to her deterioration and her increase in care needs … In August 2016 Service User H went back into hospital. On discharge, [the Registrant] should have completed a reassessment of her care needs and how her needs had changed, then updated the support plan again … This was noted in the action plan on 8 August 2016, however was not done by [the Registrant]. Eventually the case had to be reallocated for the support plan to be updated.”

115. In her written statement SA said, “Service User H’s records now suggest that an assessment was conducted on 12 July 2016 and support plan put in place on 29 July 2016. However, when this case was discussed in supervision in September 2016 and the action plan was updated, those documents had not been entered on the system.” In answer to questions during the course of the hearing, SA told the Panel that it was possible to backdate assessments and other entries on the system, but she was satisfied that the record had not been on the system when she looked in September 2016.

116. SA told the Panel that in August 2016, “there was also no contract in place with the agency who were providing care to Service User H, to reflect the amount of hours and the support to be provided. It was [the Registrant]’s responsibility to ensure this contract was put in place. The impact of an up to date support plan not being in place is that the carers did not have up to date information in respect of the service user’s changing needs and that the son was left without assistance.”

117. The Registrant provided no written representations in respect of this sub-particular.

118. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• Support Planning Guidance publications: In Control ‘What Needs to be in a Support Plan?’; In Control ‘Support Planning’; CSIP ‘Support Planning with Older People’; ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Support Planning’; In Control ‘Support Plan Panel Checklist’; In Control ‘Agreeing the Plan’; ‘My Support Plan’ Template.

• Service User H’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 7a)i, ii, and iii was in accord with these documents.

119. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User H on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a re-assessment and an updated support plan following the patient’s discharge from hospital; and did not put in place a contract with the care agency.

Particular 7b) – Found Proved

b) Between approximately 12 July 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not arrange for the case to be discussed by an internal resource panel.

120. SA told the Panel: “Any service user whose care goes over and above the budget must be taken to the [internal resource] panel in order to justify the need to spend that additional money … Service User H’s son was very stressed about looking after his mother, as she could be quite demanding … he wanted some respite to give him a break. Because that would mean going over budget, [the Registrant] would have needed to present the case to the resource panel … This would enable the support of the service user to be increased, to add in respite to the support plan so that her son could have a break.”

121. SA stated that it was the Registrant’s responsibility to refer the matter to the internal resource panel. She said, “steps should have been taken as soon as possible as that additional support could not be implemented until the extra funding had been agreed … The son initially raised this on 14 June 2016 and was in regular contact following that. There is no evidence on the service user’s file that this was progressed by [the Registrant]. The potential impact in these circumstances is that, if the son felt he was no longer about [sic] to care for his mother, the carer relationship may have broken down and she may have been placed in. a care home.”

122. In her written representations, the Registrant suggested that she had made arrangements for the case to be discussed by an internal resource panel and that this was demonstrated by emails from herself. These emails were not in the initial bundle of Registrant’s documents put before the Panel, but they were obtained during the course of the hearing and provided to the Panel. SA was shown the emails and, in answer to questions, she told the Panel that the emails were relevant to a Continuing Healthcare Panel, but not to an Internal Resource Panel, and could not be said to be indicative of the Registrant having made arrangements for the case to be discussed by an internal resource panel.

123. The Panel had careful regard to:

• A Blank Resource Panel Authorisation Form.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• In Control ‘Self Directed Funding / Risk Enablement Panel Operational Practice Guidance’.

• Adult Services: Resource Panel [Rules].

• Service User H’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to this sub-particular was in accord with these documents.

124. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User H on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not arrange for the case to be discussed by an internal resource panel.

Particular 8a) – Found Proved

8. In relation to Service User J, between approximately 6 June 2016 and 9 September 2016:

a) You did not complete and/or record an assessment;

125. SA told the Panel that Service User J was, “due to move to Hartlepool and required us to complete an assessment so that we could take over her care … [The Registrant] was allocated Service User J’s case on 6 June 2016. She would have been expected to go out and visit the service user to complete a full assessment of her needs and ensure that a support plan was put in place … An assessment of Service User J should have been completed … within 28 days and saved to the electronic system … There was no evidence of an assessment or a completed support plan on the system.”

126. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “the target date on the action plan to complete the assessment and support plan was the week beginning 5th September. I did spend some of that week in work … my last day in work was Wednesday 7th September. It is reasonable to suggest this work would have been completed by then and it wasn’t and I can only apologise for this.”

126. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Assessment Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Care Planning Procedure.

• Service User J’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 8a) was in accord with these documents.

127. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User J on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record an assessment.

Particular 8c) – Found Proved

c) You did not complete a telecare referral for the service user.

128. SA told the Panel, “Telecare provide technology for service user’s homes, for example a pendant or a bracelet with a button on. If they are unwell or have a fall … they would be able to press that button and the Telecare Equipment would contact someone based in an office who would talk to the service user … As Service User J was living alone, this equipment was considered necessary … There is a very simple, one page form that needs to be completed on the electronic system to make a referral for this equipment. The document would then need to be reassigned to the Telecare team … This form should be completed once the need is identified, and at the latest, within the week that the assessment was conducted.”

129. SA stated, “It looks as though [the Registrant] had created this form on 21 June 2016, but it had not been completed or reassigned. It was therefore left in her name and had not been triggered to go to the Telecare team. A referral to Telecare was eventually made in October 2016, by another worker once the case had been reallocated. In terms of risk, this service user was vulnerable. It was also a new environment to her and if she was to fall she would not have been able to access any help unless someone had visited her.”

130. In her written representations the Registrant stated, “I don’t understand why the telecare service was not in place. This request was put forward at the same time as the original assessment paperwork on 22nd June 2016.”

131. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Assessment Procedure.

• Service User J’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 8c) was in accord with these documents.

132. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User J on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete a telecare referral for the service user.

Particular 9a) – Found Proved

9. In relation to Service User K, between approximately 8 February 2016 and 9 September 2016:

a) You did not complete and/or record a support plan and/or an updated support plan;

133. SA told the Panel that Service user K had been, “in and out of hospital and had significant health needs. A reassessment was therefore required, to consider whether 24 hour care was necessary … [The Registrant] was allocated Service User K’s case on 8 February 2016. On allocation, she would have needed to go out to assess the service user … and consider what was required in terms of her long term needs. Following a reassessment, a support plan should have been completed … On 10 February 2016 [the Registrant] visited Service User K at home, to assess the situation. This was recorded on the system. It was agreed that a short term placement would be discussed in terms of the service user going into care for a respite period. I had a discussion with [the Registrant] about this case at that time and advised her to update the support plan to include the provision for respite care. I advised her that the service user’s long term care needs could then be reassessed while she was in respite. There is no evidence that the support plan was updated following the discussion.”

134. SA stated that Service User K was taken back into hospital in March 2016. She said, “Paperwork on the system then suggests that the service user was ready for discharge on 5 May 2016 … I would have expected a further reassessment to have been conducted at that stage, to consider the service user’s long term care needs and to allow her to be discharged from hospital. The system shows that an assessment was conducted in April 2016 when Service User K was visited by [the Registrant] … however there is no evidence that a support plan was completed at that stage … it was agreed that the service user required 24 hour care and a support plan should have been implemented then for her to leave hospital. There was however no record of this on the system. The service user therefore remained in the hospital until the beginning of May 2016 … A support plan was eventually completed in October 2016, when the case was allocated to another worker.”

135. In her written representations the Registrant appeared to have accepted that she did not complete and/or record a care plan. The Panel noted that it had been informed on several occasions during the course of the hearing that the terms Support Plan and Care Plan were interchangeable. The Registrant explained, “I was working on this case the week I went on sick leave, and so all actions were not completed. I did however leave the new assessment for authorisation with [SA] the week I went on sick leave. This should have indicated to [SA] that this case needed to be reallocated to enable support for service user K to continue.”

136. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Enquiry Referral Procedure.

• Service User K’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to sub-particular 9a) was in accord with these documents.

137. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User K on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a support plan and/or an updated support plan.

Particular 10 – Found Proved

10. In relation to Service User L, between approximately 2 March 2016 and 9 September 2016, you did not complete and/or record a substantive support plan.

138. SA told the Panel that Service User L was a former Locality Team Service User. She was referred again in March 2016 and the Registrant was allocated her case with a view to completing an assessment of the issues and the Service User’s need within 28 days and implementing a support plan.

139. SA stated, “On 2 March 2016 [the Registrant] started an assessment of Service User L on the electronic system, but did not complete it. She also completed a basic support plan in respect of Service User L. The plan looked at the service user being admitted to a care home for four weeks for further assessment. This support plan should only have been in place for an initial 72 hour period at most, and then I would have expected a full support plan to have been completed. This was not done by [the Registrant].”

140. SA also told the Panel, “The service user was returning home on 14 April 2016 and needed provision of specialist cutlery … A support plan should also have been completed at this stage, prior to the service user returning home. Again, this was not done by [the Registrant].”

141. In her written representations the Registrant did not address this sub-particular.

142. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Enquiry Referral Procedure.

• Support Planning Guidance publications: In Control ‘What Needs to be in a Support Plan?’; In Control ‘Support Planning’; CSIP ‘Support Planning with Older People’; ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Support Planning’; In Control ‘Support Plan Panel Checklist’; In Control ‘Agreeing the Plan’; ‘My Support Plan’ Template.

• Service User L’s Records.

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to particular 10 was in accord with these documents.

143. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User L on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record a substantive support plan.

Particular 11a), b), and c) – Found Proved

11. In relation to Service User M, between approximately 9 May 2016 and 9 September 2016, you:

a) did not complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days of being allocated the case;

b) between approximately 9 May 2016 and 17 June 2016, did not contact the service user.

c) did not contact the service user when you were alerted to the service user having had a fall on:

i. 31 May 2016

ii. 4 June 2016

iii. 4 July 2016

144. SA told the Panel, “[The Registrant] was allocated Service User M’s case on 9 May 2016. The expectation was that [the Registrant] would go out to see the service user and complete an assessment within 28 days of being allocated the case…”

145. SA informed the Panel of the following key events:

• “On 31 May 2016 a Telecare referral was made and [the Registrant] was copied into that. Service User M had suffered a fall. I would normally expect that this referral would have instigated contact from the social worker … [The Registrant] did not make any contact with Service User M following this referral.”

• “Service user M suffered another fall on 4 June 2016. The first contact [the Registrant] had in relation to this family was on 17 June 2016, when the warden of the scheme contacted [the Registrant] … She did not contact the service user directly until 22 August 2016.”

• “On 4 July 2016 Service User M had a further fall. On 22 August 2016 an observation was entered on the electronic system to say that [the Registrant] had visited the service user to commence an assessment and support plan, but that the family were undecided if they wanted to proceed … It looks from the records like this was the first time [the Registrant] had been out to see the service user or spoken to her. There was no other evidence on the system in terms of documentation or communication, since allocation.”

• “I made a note in our supervision session in September 2016 about this case, to say that service User M had been referred for an assessment … however the daughter was undecided whether to go ahead with the assessment due to financial reasons. [The Registrant] was due to visit the family again for a decision and when she did, the daughter had decided not to go ahead.”

146. SA concluded, “I would have expected to see a completed assessment within 28 days of allocation and also that [the Registrant] had contacted the service user each time she was alerted that she had fallen … That would not have to be a home visit, but a telephone call at the very least … As no assessment was completed, either the daughter was left unpaid for caring for her mother, or the service user was left vulnerable with no care or support.”

147. In her written representations in respect of assessment of Service User M, the Registrant accepted that she did not complete an assessment within 28 days. However, she also stated that this was because Service User M, “could not decide whether to pursue services or go ahead with the assessment. Her final decision was not to have an assessment due to financial reasons. [SA] was kept up to date about such developments in this case.” Whilst the Panel noted that SA had denied being informed of this, it recognised that the allegation is that the Registrant did not complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days of being allocated the case and that she admitted that she had not done so.

148. In her written representations in respect of not contacting Service User M, the Registrant stated that she felt confident that she had contacted the service user in the first 10 days of the case being allocated to her. However, she stated, “I am sorry that his [sic] is not recorded and it appears that I failed to contact Service user M within the allocated 28 days. In honest reflection this may be the case. I am confident I did make initial contact but could not swear to it given the pressure I was under at this time … I apologise for my failings here.”

149. In her written representations the Registrant did not address the allegation that she did not contact the service user when she was alerted to the service user having had falls on 31 May, 4 June, and 4 July 2016.

150. The Panel had careful regard to:

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Recording Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Assessment Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Enquiry Referral Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department Monitoring Procedure.

• HBC’s Adult and Community Services Department OT – Care Management Procedure.

• Service User M’s Records

The Panel was satisfied that SA’s evidence in relation to Particular 11 was in accord with these documents.

151. In all the circumstances, the Panel was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that, in relation to Service User M on the dates alleged, the Registrant did not complete and/or record an assessment within 28 days of being allocated the case, did not contact the service user between the dates alleged, and did not contact the service user when alerted to the service user having had falls on the dates alleged.

Decision on Grounds

152. Having made its findings on the facts, the Panel went on to consider whether the matters found proved constituted misconduct and/or lack of competence. In this regard, the Panel had careful regard to the submissions of Ms Sharpe and the written representations of the Registrant. It accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel was mindful that it must exercise its own independent judgement in reaching a decision on statutory grounds and impairment.

153. The Panel considered the Registrant’s failings in light of her long experience as a registered Social Worker, and in light of the issues affecting her health and well-being at the time. Within her written representations, the Registrant provided the Panel with extensive information regarding the various issues she said were causing her difficulties, both in terms of her health and private life and also in the workplace. The Panel received sufficient evidence from the witnesses who appeared before it to be satisfied that the matters found proved did occur in the context of private and workplace stresses. Although the Registrant made extensive representations about the causes of these, the Panel did not consider it necessary or helpful to attempt to make findings, beyond recognising that the Registrant considered that her ability to perform satisfactorily in the workplace had been impacted by the matters which she raised in her written representations.

154. In relation to lack of competence, Ms Sharpe referred the Panel to the case of Holton v GMC [2006]. She submitted that it would be open to the Panel to find that the facts it finds proved demonstrated a lack of competence.

155. In considering lack of competence, the Panel took account of the fact that the matters found proved related to ten service users over a substantial period of time and involved a range of failings in the Registrant’s professional practice. Whilst the Panel concluded that this represented a fair sample of the Registrant’s work, it did not consider that the evidence indicated that the failings occurred because the Registrant did not know what was expected of her and/or did not have the professional ability to meet those expectations. Indeed, the background evidence before the Panel indicated that in general terms the Registrant was an experienced and competent Social Worker. For this reason, the Panel concluded that the matters found proved did not constitute lack of competence.

156. In relation to misconduct, Ms Sharpe referred the Panel to the case of Roylance v GMC (No 2), and invited the Panel to have regard to the 2016 edition of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics. She submitted that the failings of the Registrant found by the Panel were serious and amounted to misconduct.

157. The Panel was mindful that misconduct involves a falling short of the professional standards that would be proper in the circumstances, and must be serious.

158. The Registrant had responsibilities to vulnerable service users, their families, and carers, as well as her colleagues, her employer, her profession, and the public. The public rightly expect high standards of professional performance from registered Social Workers. In this case, the Panel found serious failings in the Registrant’s communication, case management, and record keeping over a sustained period of time. While no individual appears to have suffered physical harm, a number of service users were put at risk of harm, carers and family members were inconvenienced and subjected to unnecessary stress, colleagues were inconvenienced, and the reputation of the Registrant’s employer and the Social Work profession could have been brought into disrepute.

159. The Panel considered that the Registrant had repeatedly fallen below the standards expected of a registered Social Worker and had breached the following standards as set out in the 2016 edition of the HCPC Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics:

Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers

2  Communicate appropriately and effectively

6  Manage risk

10  Keep records of your work

160. The Panel had no doubt that the matters found proved indicated a range of serious departures from those standards and were so serious as to raise the issue of the Registrant’s fitness to practise. In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s failings in relation to the matters found proved constitute misconduct.

Decision on Impairment

161. The Panel then went on to consider whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is impaired by reason of her misconduct. It had careful regard to all the evidence before it and to the submissions of Ms Sharpe. Although the Panel had not had the benefit of hearing from the Registrant in person, it had particular regard to all the Registrant’s written representations and supporting documents.

162. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and had particular regard to the HCPTS Practice Note “Finding that Fitness to Practise is ‘Impaired’”.

163. The Panel first considered the personal component of impairment. In assessing the likelihood of repetition of matters of the kind found proved, the Panel had particular regard to the issues of insight, remediation, and history.

Insight

164. The Panel considered that the Registrant’s written representations, which contained a number of full or partial admissions and apologies, did indicate an awareness of the unacceptability of some of the matters which had been alleged. It had some concerns that the insight this indicated was sometimes reduced by the Registrant’s suggestions that others were to blame; for example, at sub-particular 9a) the Registrant appears to blame SA for not realising that the assessment task should have been passed on to someone else. Similarly, the Panel was concerned that on occasions the Registrant seemed to suggest that the risks created by her failings were not serious; for example, at sub-particular 8c) she appeared to minimise the seriousness of her failure to complete a telecare referral for Service User J to receive a pendant by stating that she had pull cords in every room. Further, it seemed to the Panel that while the Registrant’s written representations gave considerable attention to her own difficulties, relatively little attention was given to the potential impact of her failings on service users, their families and carers, her colleagues and employer, and the reputation of her profession. In the circumstances, the Panel concluded that the Registrant had demonstrated some insight, but there remained scope for development of further insight.

Remediation

165. The Panel was provided with no evidence of remediation. It recognised that the Registrant has not been working as a registered Social Worker since this matter was put before her regulator, and inevitably, this will have reduced her opportunities to demonstrate that she has taken steps to ensure that failings of the kind found proved are highly unlikely to be repeated.

History

166. The Panel recognised that the Registrant is a Social Worker of considerable experience. It noted that there have been issues in the past, resulting in measures being taken to assist her to improve her professional performance.

167. In all the circumstances, the Panel considered that there is a real risk of repetition of matters of the kind found proved if the Registrant is permitted to practice without restriction.

168. The Panel then went on to consider the public component of impairment. The Panel had careful regard to the important public policy issues identified by Silber J in the case of Cohen v GMC [2008]:

“Any approach to the issue of whether...fitness to practise should be regarded as ‘impaired’ must take account of ‘the need to protect the individual patient, and the collective need to maintain confidence in the profession as well as declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.”

169. The Panel asked itself whether the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession would be undermined if a finding of impairment were not made in the particular circumstances of this case. The Panel had no doubt that it would. Effective communication, efficient case management, and good record keeping are fundamental requirements of the Social Work profession, and in the Panel’s view, the public would be concerned to learn of the Registrant’s failings in this case.

170. For all the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction

171. The Panel next considered what, if any, sanction to impose on the Registrant’s registration. It had careful regard to all the evidence put before it and to the submissions of Ms Sharpe and the written representations and supporting documents submitted by the Registrant. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

172. Ms Sharpe drew the Panel’s attention to the HCPC’s Sanctions Policy and submitted that sanction is a matter for the Panel’s own independent judgment.

173. In reaching its decision, the Panel took into account the principle of proportionality and the need to balance the competing interests of the Registrant with the overriding objective to protect the public. The Panel had regard to all the circumstances, and considered the weight it should attach to the following aggravating and mitigating factors in the case:

Aggravating Factors

• The matters found proved constitute a pattern of misconduct which occurred over a substantial period of time and involved nine service users;

• The Registrant had been the subject of performance measures imposed by her employer shortly before she was transferred to the team in which the misconduct occurred;

• Vulnerable service users had been exposed to unwarranted risk of harm;

• The Panel had identified a significant risk of repetition.

Mitigating Factors

• The Registrant had been experiencing health concerns and other difficulties in her private life and in the workplace;

• When the Registrant joined the team she brought with her 18 cases which she was expected to process along with her new workload;

• In the course of her written representations, the Registrant admitted a significant proportion of the matters alleged against her;

• The evidence demonstrated some instances of good practice on the part of the Registrant and praise from some colleagues and some service users and their families.

172. The Panel first considered whether it would be appropriate to impose no sanction in this case. It gave careful regard to paragraphs 97 and 98 of the Sanctions Policy. The Panel noted its earlier findings that the Registrant has demonstrated a lack of insight and remediation and that there is a significant risk of repetition of misconduct. In those circumstances, the Panel concluded that the imposition of no sanction would neither protect the public nor serve the wider public interest in maintaining confidence and declaring and upholding proper standards. In the Panel’s view, such a course would be wholly inappropriate.

173. The Panel considered whether it would be appropriate to refer this matter for mediation. However, in the Panel’s view the circumstances of this case did not lend themselves to mediation.

174. The Panel next considered the imposition of a Caution Order. It gave careful regard to the factors set out in paragraphs 99-104 of the Sanctions Policy. The Panel considered its findings that:

• The failings are serious;

• There is a significant risk of repetition;

• The Registrant has demonstrated limited insight into the seriousness of the risks to which she exposed service users, their carers, and families, as well as her colleagues and employer;

• The Panel received no evidence of remediation.

In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that such an order would be neither appropriate nor sufficient.

175. The Panel then considered the imposition of a Conditions of Practice Order. It gave careful regard to paragraphs 105-115 of the Sanctions Policy. The Panel considered its findings that the Registrant demonstrated limited insight and has not remediated her misconduct. However, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s failings did not indicate deep-seated attitudinal problems. It was satisfied that conditions could be formulated which would address those failings and adequately protect the public and serve the wider public interest. Although the Registrant had not been in attendance during the course of the hearing, she had engaged with the process and had provided the Panel with substantial written representations and supporting documents.

176. The Panel had careful regard to paragraph 107 of the Sanctions Policy, which states, “Conditions will only be effective in cases where the registrant is genuinely committed to resolving the concerns raised and the panel is confident they will do so.” In the Panel’s view the Registrant’s extensive written representations, and the remorse demonstrated by her in those representations, indicated that it could have confidence that the Registrant would cooperate appropriately with a Conditions of Practice Order.

177. The Panel did consider the imposition of a Suspension Order, but in light of its findings that conditions could be formulated which would protect the public and serve the public interest, and that it could have confidence that the Registrant would cooperate with such an order, the Panel determined that a Suspension Order would be disproportionate at this time. For this reason, the Panel determined to impose a Conditions of Practice Order.

178. The Panel considered the appropriate duration for such an Order. Given that the Registrant is not in current employment as a registered Social Worker, the Panel considered that a duration of 18 months should be sufficient to allow the Registrant time to obtain employment and to demonstrate compliance with the conditions.

Order

The Registrar is directed to annotate the Register to show that, for a period of 18 months from the date that this Order comes into effect (“the Operative Date”), you, Miss Teresa R Sinden, must comply with the following conditions of practice:

1. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a Supervisor approved by the HCPC, attend upon that Supervisor as required, and follow their advice and recommendations.
 
2. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you take up any employment that requires you to be a registered Social Worker.

3. You must promptly inform the HCPC of any disciplinary proceedings taken against you by your employer.
 
4. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to the conditions:

a) Any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional work;

b) Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application); and

c) Any prospective employer where the work requires your PIN (at the time of your application)
 
5. You must create a Reflective Account, using a recognised model, which demonstrates your reflection on and understanding of the impact your failings could have had on service users, their carers and families, your colleagues and employer, and on public confidence in the profession of Social Work.
 
6. Within three months of the Operative Date you must forward a copy of your Reflective Account to the HCPC.
 
7. You must work with your Supervisor to formulate a Personal Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of your practice:

• communication
• case management
• record keeping
• policy compliance
 
8. Within three months of the Operative Date you must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.
 
9. You must meet with your Supervisor on a monthly basis to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.
 
10. You must allow your Supervisor to provide information to the HCPC about your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

11. You will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with the conditions.
 
12. Any condition requiring you to provide any information to the HCPC is to be met by you sending the information to the offices of the HCPC, marked for the attention of the Director of Fitness to Practise.

This Order will be reviewed before its expiry.

Notes

Interim Order

1. The Panel heard an application from Ms Sharpe to cover the appeal period by imposing an 18-month Interim Conditions of Practice Order on the Registrant’s registration. She submitted that such an Interim Order was necessary to protect the public and is otherwise in the public interest.

2. The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. It had careful regard to paragraphs 133-135 of the Sanctions Policy.

Proceeding in absence

3. The Panel noted that the Registrant had been informed, in the Notice of Hearing dated 12 August 2019, that if this Panel found proved the allegation against her and imposed a sanction which removed, suspended, or restricted her right to practise, the HCPC may make an application to the Panel to impose an interim order to cover any appeal period. For the reasons set out in its earlier decision to commence the hearing in the absence of the Registrant, the Panel determined that it would also be fair, proportionate, and in the interests of justice to consider Ms Sharpe’s application.

Decision

4. The Panel recognised that its power to impose an interim order is discretionary and that the imposition of such an order is not an automatic outcome of fitness to practise proceedings in which a Conditions of Practice Order has been imposed. The Panel took into consideration the impact such an order would be likely to have on the Registrant. However, the Panel was mindful of its findings in relation to insight and remediation and that there is a significant risk of repetition of misconduct of the kind found by the Panel. In the circumstances, the Panel considered that not to impose an interim order would be inconsistent with its finding that a substantive Conditions of Practice Order is required. Public confidence in the profession and the regulatory process would be seriously harmed if the Registrant were not made subject to an interim order during the appeal period.

5. The Panel makes an 18-month Interim Conditions of Practice Order under Article 31(2) of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001, the same being necessary to protect members of the public and being otherwise in the public interest. This Order will expire: (if no appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) upon the expiry of the period during which such an appeal could be made; (if an appeal is made against the Panel’s decision and Order) the final determination of that appeal, subject to a maximum period of 18 months.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Miss Teresa R Sinden

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
02/09/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Conditions of Practice