As found by the General Social Care Council on 05 September 2011.
In the course of undertaking work of SWIIS Foster Care Ltd (SWIIS) as A’s Form F Assessor, it is alleged that between November 2009 and March 2010, you:
1. From December 2009 onwards, met A on more than one occasion in a public house (“the Pub”), where you
a) Carried out A’s Form F assessment;
b) Consumed alcohol;
3. Accepted money from A in the sum of around £70;
4. In around November or December 2009, asked A to ask B to obtain theatre tickets for you
5. On an unknown date, interviewed B in the Pub as a referee for A’s Form F assessment
6. On or around 11 March 2010, asked A to ask B to assist you with preparing documentation for your court case;
7. Your actions in respect of 1-6 above were:
b) In breach of professional boundaries
2. The registrant attended the hearing today but was not represented. She was employed as a social worker on 22 October 2009, primarily as an assessor of the competency of foster carers. In that capacity she acted as A’s assessor. Incidents occurred as a result of her relationship with A from December 2009 to March 2010. This caused an allegation of misconduct to be made by the General Social Care Council in September 2011.
3. The registrant did not appear in person nor was she represented at the hearing in September 2011. The GSCC Conduct Committee found that the proved facts amounted to misconduct and so proceeded to sanction stage, there being no ‘current impairment’ stage under the GSCC rules. On 5 September 2011 the Committee decided to suspend her for a period of 12 months. It was open to the Committee to have removed the registrant from the GSCC register but they decided not to do so. The reasons for their decision are set out in the Notice of Decision. They considered that the period of 12 months “reflected the seriousness of the misconduct and was proportionate”. The regulation of social workers was subsequently transferred to the HCPC on 1 August 2012.
4. This Panel has reviewed all of the documentary evidence before it. The function of the Panel is not to go behind the decisions taken by the GSCC or the two HCPC reviewing panels.
5. The original Conduct Committee of the GSCC identified the following aggravating features in the case: “borrowing money from a service user, drinking whilst on duty, soliciting concert tickets from a service user’s referee, exploiting a service user, conducting confidential meetings in a public house, sharing personal information, taking advantage of B, A’s referee; inappropriateness in asking B for assistance in her private life; a lack of identifiable remorse, no real insight shown, abusing her power as a social worker, blurring of professional boundaries and poor judgment.” The Committee also identified mitigating factors i.e. “previous good work history, admissions and acknowledgement she had been silly and stupid, had repaid the money and had personal problems at that time”. The Committee considered that the registrant’s failings were not fundamentally incompatible with her continuing to be a registered social worker provided that the behaviour did not happen again. This Panel endorses that view and accordingly has considered the extent to which it can be confident that there will be no repetition of such serious misconduct.
6. The Panel has carefully considered the HCPC bundle of documents. The HCPC submits that the failings in respect of one service user (A) giving rise to the original order were serious. They involved, among other things, borrowing money from A, requesting that A obtain theatre tickets, conducting a professional meeting with A, in respect of an application to become a foster carer, in a public house while consuming alcohol.
7. The registrant has provided a bundle of documents which included testimonials from former colleagues and former line management, a reflective piece on the seriousness of her conduct, evidence of keeping her knowledge up to date, and an approach to Medway council in relation to enrolment on a return to social work course. On oath the registrant elaborated in relation to her insight into the breach of professional boundaries and the damage this caused to service user A’s trust in her and the reputation of the social work profession.
8. The registrant would like to return to practice with children rather than foster carers. She has worked with children for 30 years and is fully aware of the stresses that such work entails. She described how she would handle such stress. Her commitment to work with children has led her to her present work as a Reading Champion for children.
9. Article 30(1) of the Order provides that before the expiry of the current suspension order it shall be reviewed. The Panel today may, with effect from the date on which the order expires, extend, or further extend the period for which the order has effect, or make an order which could have been made at the time the order being reviewed was made or make a conditions of practice order. The Panel may not extend a suspension order by more than one year at a time. The HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy (the Policy) states: suspension should be considered where the Panel considers that a caution or conditions of practice are insufficient or inappropriate to protect the public or where the allegation is of a serious nature but there is a realistic prospect that repetition will not occur and, thus, that striking off is not merited. Suspension orders cannot be made subject to conditions. However, where the Panel expects the registrant to address specific issues or take specific action before the suspension order is reviewed clear guidance should be given to the registrant. Conditions of practice will be most appropriate where a failure or deficiency is capable of being remedied and where the Panel is satisfied that allowing the registrant to remain in practice, albeit subject to conditions, poses no risk of harm or future harm. Before imposing conditions a Panel should be satisfied that there is no general failure, that the matter is capable of correction, and that appropriate, realistic and verifiable conditions can be formulated. Whatever the conditions imposed, another panel must be able to consider and determine whether the conditions have or are being met.
10. The Panel is of the view that some restriction on the registrant’s practice as a social worker continues to be necessary to safeguard the public and the reputation of the profession. Accordingly the Panel has considered the minimum level of restriction required to provide adequate protection. Having determined that a caution order would be inadequate, it then considered conditions of practice.
11. Having considered all of the oral and written evidence from the HCPC and the registrant, the Panel takes the view that the failure or deficiency on the part of the registrant is capable of being remedied. The Panel has read the evidence of the registrant and questioned her on oath about professional boundaries. The registrant has now demonstrated a greater understanding of those boundaries, how she breached them and how she will behave differently in the future. The Panel takes the view that the registrant can be allowed to return to practice and, subject to conditions, she will pose no risk of harm or future harm to service users. The Panel has carefully constructed conditions that will ensure that the registrant is trained adequately to return to practice as an effective social worker and further that she is subject to close supervision which will ensure that she maintains, and puts into professional practice, the understanding of professional boundaries that she has demonstrated at this hearing.
12. The Panel has concluded that the following conditions of practice are appropriate:
• Within 12 months of the operative date the registrant must successfully complete a re-entry to Social Work programme or equivalent course and forward a copy of her results and a completion certificate to the HCPC.
• Upon gaining employment as a social worker, the registrant must place herself, and remain, under the supervision of an HCPC registered social worker and supply the name and address of this person to the HCPC within 1 month of taking up any employment as a social worker. She must attend upon the supervising social worker as required and follow their advice and recommendations.
• The registrant is to provide, to the HCPC, a signed and dated written report from her supervising social worker at 6 monthly intervals for the first 12 months her employment. These reports should set out her progress with particular reference to her understanding of/and maintenance of professional boundaries.
13. The Panel has decided that these conditions should take immediate effect and this order should be for a period of 2 years to enable the registrant to complete a return to practice course and obtain employment as a social worker before the order is reviewed. It is likely that any reviewing panel will require evidence of a successful return to practice and completion of the return to work programme having been achieved within that period, for an unrestricted return to practice to be considered.
1. Within 12 months of the operative date you must successfully complete a re-entry to Social Work programme or equivalent course and forward a copy of your results and completion certificate to the HCPC.
2. Upon gaining employment as a social worker you must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a HCPC registered social worker and supply the name and address of this person to the HCPC within 1 month of taking up any employment as a social worker. You must attend upon your supervising social worker as required and follow their advice and recommendations.
3. You are to provide reports written by your supervising social worker, signed and dated by the supervisor, to the HCPC;
a) The first report is to be sent to the HCPC 6 months after you commence employment as a social worker
b) The second report is to be sent to the HCPC 12 months after you commence employment as a social worker
c) The above reports are to set out your progress with particular reference to your understanding of/and maintenance of professional boundaries.
4. You must inform the following parties that your registration is subject to these conditions:
a) Any organisation or person employing or contracting with you to undertake professional social work.
b) Any agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application) in respect of any work as a social worker; and
c) Any prospective employer at the time of your application for employment as a social worker.
History of Hearings for Claudette-Marie Jones
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|02/01/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Struck off|
|07/07/2016||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|05/08/2014||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Conditions of Practice|
|08/08/2013||Conduct and Competence Committee||Review Hearing||Suspended|