Mr Alcus Dunn

: Social worker

: SW110297

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:10:00 24/04/2017 End: 12:30 24/04/2017

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

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Conditions of Practice

Allegation

1. Whilst undertaking social work for Hertfordshire County Council between January 2008 and April 2008, you did not follow reasonable management instructions, thereby placing vulnerable users of services,particularly children, at risk, in that:

a) You approved your own Child Protection report on child DD which failed to include information provided by her school that she had bruising on the top of her thigh, had passed urine with a pink tinge in it, was then absent from school and was therefore considered to be at risk.

b) You agreed for child GP to be transported and left in Kingston, despite specific instruction from Manager Devika Naidoo, not to do so. When Devika Naidoo instructed you to notify the Emergency Duty Team and Child Protection Services that child GP was missing, you failed to do so and therefore placed child GP at risk.

2. Whilst undertaking social work for Hertfordshire County Council between 21 August 2006 and 1 May 2008, you failed to follow clear recording procedures in that you didn’t complete formal case recording on any of your paper case files or in-house computer case files.

3. Whilst undertaking social work for Hertfordshire County Council between August 2006 and 1 May 2008, you failed to follow Child Protection procedures and reporting mechanisms to senior management in that:

a) You failed to identify that child DD was missing. After receiving information expressing concerns about child DD’s welfare you visited her home and her grandmother’s home, but failed to see

DD. You did not then tell a manager that you had failed to see DD or report that child DD was missing to the Police.

b) In your Child Protection report dated 21 April 2008, regarding child

DD, you failed to mention in your report the concerns of the school,

despite the fact that as the child’s key worker you have a

responsibility to collate and co-ordinate information on a child who

is on the Child Protection Register.

4. Whilst undertaking social work for Hertfordshire County Council

between March 2008 and April 2008, you failed to make adequate and

informed risk assessments, in that:

a) You failed to recognise that child DD was at risk when you were unable to see her from the end of March 2008 to the middle of April 2008.

b) You failed to recognise the risk that child GP was subjected to, when you agreed that he would be transported and left in Kingston.

5. When instructed by Team Manager Pam Chetty, to obtain written consent from Mrs B in order for her not to have unsupervised contact with her children, you told Mrs B that if she signed the agreement, you would amend it so that she could have unsupervised contact with her

children, and by doing so placed the B children at risk.

And in relation to the above are guilty of misconduct.

Finding

Background

1. At a hearing of a Panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee held on the 9 May 2016, the Registrant’s application for restoration to the Register was heard. At that hearing, the following information was noted.

2. Historically the Registrant faced an Allegation whilst his registration was with the General Social Care Council. That Allegation arose during the Registrant’s employment with Hertfordshire County Council, and related to his conduct whilst having regard to a number of child protection cases. The Allegation included particulars relating to poor record-keeping, failure to follow procedures and poor risk assessment.

3. At the Restoration Hearing, the Registrant presented information which the Panel considered demonstrated that he had gained sufficient insight into his former behaviour and had taken appropriate steps to support his application to be restored to the register.

4. At the hearing on 9 May 2016, it was decided that following the Registrant’s successful re-registration he would be allowed to return to practice subject to the following Conditions of Practice:
After starting work as a Social Worker the Applicant must comply with the following Conditions of Practice for one year:

1. You must place yourself and remain under the supervision of a workplace supervisor registered by the HCPC or other appropriate statutory regulator and supply details of your supervisor to the HCPC within one month of gaining employment. You must attend upon that supervisor as required and follow their advice and recommendations.

2. You must promptly inform the HCPC if you cease to be employed by your    employer, or take up any other or further employment.

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 these 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 the application); and

C. any prospective employer (at the time of your application).

5. Development Plan designed to address the deficiencies in the following areas of practice:

• Record keeping;

• Following procedures;

• Risk assessment.

6. Within one  month  of  starting  work  as  a  social worker  you  must forward a copy of your Personal Development Plan to the HCPC.

7.  You must  meet  with  your  supervisor  on  a  weekly  basis  for  one month and thereafter monthly to consider your progress towards achieving the aims set out in your Personal Development Plan.

8.  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.
 

Evidence and Submissions

5. The HCPC acknowledged that the Registrant had on a regular basis engaged with the HCPC process. The Registrant had provided the HCPC with information relating to his attempts to fulfil the terms of the Order, and to obtain work as a Social Worker.  The HCPC considered that in view of his inability to fulfil the terms of the Order a further period of restriction was appropriate, but it was left to the judgment and discretion of the Panel to consider the length of that Order and the terms.

6. At this hearing the Registrant presented to the Panel several letters of application he had made for positions as a Social Worker.  He told the Panel that he had applied to all but three Boroughs within the London region and had applied to many agencies but had been unsuccessful in securing employment as a Social Worker with Conditions of Practice.

7. The Registrant told the Panel that he had no previous experience of working with the elderly, an area which he believed he would be more likely to secure employment within in the future. With this objective in mind he had taken steps to gain knowledge of the issues relating to the elderly, and had accepted a zero hours’ contract relating to a position working as a ‘care giver’, within an organisation which can provide possibly provide him with the opportunity for career development. In this way he hopes that this position will provide him with a foundation to develop his knowledge of this area of practice perhaps enabling him eventually to be able to return to his registered profession.

8. In his written representations the Registrant highlighted the fact that the Conditions of Practice imposed on his registration had prevented him from getting a position as a Social Worker despite his perception that there is a need for more Social Workers, particularly within the field of care for children.

9. The Registrant’s new position as a ‘care giver,’ with Home Instead Senior Care, involved record keeping duties for the clients he will have responsibility to for within their homes. He completed an induction programme and had started his role last week and so it was too soon for him to provide evidence of performance. He was, however, able to outline his role and how his personal development would be taken forward with this care agency. A named individual within Home Instead was prepared to undertake monthly formal supervision, in compliance with the terms of the Order.

10. The Registrant was additionally obtaining independent supervision, guidance and mentoring through an individual identified on the British Association of Social Workers register of supervisors. The Registrant was self-funding his additional supervision. The Registrant confirmed that his employing and independent supervisors were prepared to provide the HCPC with reports on his progress and copies of notes of supervision.

11. In a year’s time a member of staff at Home Instead, who had knowledge of palliative care, will be leaving and so in the interim the Registrant is shadowing this individual with a view to obtaining more insight into this area of care for the elderly and so progresses his career.

12. The Registrant provided the Panel with the details of his family financial situation which included him being in a position to provide more income in the future to allow his wife the opportunity to retire next summer. The Registrant’s employer was aware of the Registrant’s wish to return to work as a Social Worker and his level of financial need.

13. In closing submissions, the HCPC drew attention to the continuing need for the terms of Condition 5, relating to record-keeping, following procedure, and risk assessments, to be shown to have been fulfilled and that it was unclear from the terms of the Registrant’s personal development plan with his new employer whether these issues would be fully addressed.


Decision: 

14. In undertaking its task today, the Panel is conducting a comprehensive appraisal of the Registrant’s current abilities with a view to establishing whether he is now fit to return to unrestricted practice.  The Panel is not undertaking the task of rehearing the matters that had been brought against the Registrant, nor is it going behind the previous findings including the Panel’s decision to restore his registration to the Register. 

15. This Panel has considered all documentation placed before it and has heard and given appropriate weight to the fresh evidence supplied by the Registrant.  It has heard the parties’ submissions; taken and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and it has reminded itself of the terms of relevant Practice Notes.

16. Although the conduct matters are historic and the Registrant has been able to evidence that he has maintained his Continuing Professional Development, the Registrant has not worked as a Social Worker nor within a social work environment for nine years. The Registrant has been able to provide evidence that he understands the need for procedures, good record keeping, and accurate risk assessment. He has not, however, been in a situation where he has demonstrated that understanding in his day to day practice.  This being the case, the Panel considers that some form of restriction is still required for service user protection and the wider public interest.

17. The Panel considered that a Caution Order would not provide the requisite level of service user protection as there would not be any direct supervision or monitoring of the Registrant’s practice. In the circumstances of this case, the practice shown must demonstrate to be implementation of learning.                                                                           
18. In the Panel’s view the failings of the Registrant are remediable.  The Panel also noted that the Registrant had obtained employment within a social care environment with supervision.  It therefore concluded that a further period of Conditions of Practice was proportionate and appropriate in this instance. First, as it would give the registrant the opportunity to take forward his development within the environment provided by his new employer. Second, a period of suspension or the imposition of a strike off would be a disproportionate.       

19. Having assessed that a Conditions of Practice Order remains the appropriate and proportionate level of restriction, at this time, the Panel considered whether, and to what degree, the Conditions should be varied to reflect the current situation where the Registrant is not working as a Social Worker but within an allied field of Social Care. In considering variation of the Conditions of Practice Order, the Panel was mindful of the need to ensure that the requisite level of service user protection was maintained. The Panel considered it was essential that the Registrant demonstrates that he has fully addressed his failings in the areas of record-keeping, risk assessment and adherence to procedures before being allowed to return to unrestricted practice. The Panel however appreciated that this could be demonstrated without the Registrant being employed within a position where he is employed as a Social Worker. The Panel’s amendments have therefore focused on the terms of Condition 5. In the Panel’s view the amendment of Condition 5 will allow the Registrant to demonstrate within a social care environment the necessary level of performance whilst at the same time retaining service user protection.

20. The further period of the Conditions of Practice Order will be for twelve months. The Panel considered that this will the amount of time required to gather evidence of applied learning to practice. However, the Panel has not exercised its discretion to impose a restriction on when the Registrant may apply for an early review. The Panel has left it as a matter for the Registrant, employer Supervisor and independent Supervisor to consider whether he has sufficient evidence of having fully addressed his previously identified conduct failings.

21. The Registrant should however be aware that failure to demonstrate the ability to work as an autonomous practitioner without restriction may ultimately result in the Registrant’s removal from the Register.

22. This Order is made in the registrant’s interest and the wider public interests of continued service user protection, the public interest in upholding standards of conduct and performance and maintaining the reputation of the profession.

Order

The Registrar is directed to extend the Conditions of Practice Order against the registration of Mr Alcus Dunn for a further period of 12 months on the expiry of the existing order.     

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 17 June 2017.  This order will be reviewed again before its expiry on 16 June 2018.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Mr Alcus Dunn

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
03/01/2018 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice
24/04/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Conditions of Practice