Miss Danielle Ruth Omolar Powell

: Social worker

: SW15309

: Review Hearing

Date and Time of hearing:12:30 27/06/2017 End: 17:00 27/06/2017

: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service (HCPTS), 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

: Conduct and Competence Committee
: Caution

Allegation

During the course of your employment as a Social Worker at Bedfordshire Youth Offending Service:

1. on 15 December 2014, you:

a) sent an SMS text message to your line manager at Bedfordshire Youth Offending Service stating

you were not well and could not attend work.

b) took up employment at Camden Youth Offending Service, via an agency contract.

2. Your actions as described in paragraph 1 were dishonest.

3. The matters set out in paragraphs 1 - 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

Finding

Background:

1. The Registrant was employed in the Youth Offending Team of the Bedfordshire Youth Offending Services (BYOS). She was appointed as a Youth Justice Social Worker in April 2013. In October 2014, the Registrant approached BW, Team Manager, and expressed a desire to resign from her role. She stated that she wanted to broaden her skills. The Registrant gave notice of her resignation in writing on the 31 October 2014. BW reminded the Registrant that she was contractually obliged to give 3 months’ notice.

2. The reason contractual notice is expected to be given is that social workers deal with complex cases and a considerable amount of thought needs to be given to how those cases are either closed or transferred to other members of staff. During the course of her notice period, the Registrant would have been responsible for updating her electronic case records, notifying service users and other professionals of her departure, completing court reports and liaising with her manager to ensure that her record keeping was up to date.

3. The Registrant had between 18-20 cases and with her workload, her employers were anticipating a departure date in late January 2015, once accrued annual leave was taken into account. BW had made it clear to the Registrant that there was some flexibility, with the possibility of leaving work early, but this was dependent upon everything being in place and the approval of her line manager.

4. The Registrant took time off work in early December 2014, with the agreement of her employer, to attend job interviews. She then left work on the evening of the 12 December 2014 without saying a word to her colleagues and having cleared her desk.

5. On 15 December, the Registrant sent a text message to her manager, SJ, explaining that she could not come into work that day because she was unwell. The Registrant was not in fact ill, but had commenced an induction with Camden Young Offenders Service (CYOS).

6. Following her departure, it became clear that not all of the young people the Registrant worked with were aware of her impending departure. A change of social worker, without notice, can adversely affect young people and their families, who have built a relationship with their social worker. In addition, the Registrant’s record keeping was incomplete when she left. This made the transferring of work to the new social worker(s) more difficult and created the possibility that information could have been lost, potentially putting service users at risk.

7. The Panel hearing the Registrant’s case on 30 June 2016, (“the final hearing panel”) found that the registrant’s actions were dishonest. The final hearing panel concluded that the Registrant had lied to her line manager, as the reason for her non-attendance at work was not because she was ill, but because she had obtained alternative employment. It also found that the Registrant was aware that she was not free to take up employment with CYOS, given she had not been released from her notice period.

8. The final hearing panel found the Registrant’s fitness to practise impaired by reason of her misconduct and made the following findings:

e) …there was insufficient evidence of appropriate insight and or reflection, and that if the Registrant found herself in similar circumstances, there was a possibility of repetition. The Panel can only address the question of current impairment on the basis of the limited evidence advanced in these proceedings. The Panel concluded that the Registrant was impaired having regard to the private component of impairment.

f) The actions of the Registrant have damaged public confidence in the profession of being a social worker and brought the profession into disrepute.

g) The Panel had regard to the need to protect service users and to uphold the proper standards of behaviour, in concluding that the public component of impairment is clearly established.

9. The final hearing panel also concluded that the Registrant was in breach of the following Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics:

• Standard 1: You must act in the best interests of service users,

• Standard 3: You must keep high standards of personal conduct,

• Standard 13: You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behaviour does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession.

10. The final hearing panel imposed a suspension order for a period of 12 months and concluded that a suspension order for 12 months would allow the Registrant sufficient opportunity to remedy her shortcomings whilst providing an appropriate degree of public protection, recognising that the Registrant was then on maternity leave.

11. The final hearing panel made the following guidance to the Registrant:

(a) The Registrant should provide clear evidence of insight into the  failings identified in these proceedings, and evidence of  reflection on the potential harm to service users,

(b) A reference from the Registrant’s current employer, regarding  her ongoing employment, and confirming that they are aware of  the outcome of these proceedings,

(c) Evidence of continued and up to date training, and maintaining the necessary knowledge, skills and competence to practise as a social worker.

Decision 

12. The Panel heard the submissions of Mr Pandya on behalf of the HCPC and the evidence of the Registrant. The Panel also read a document written by Ms Powell dated 15 June 2017, a reference dated 26 June 2017 from her current Operational Manager and a further reference from the Service Manager of the Young Offending Service, for which she has worked since 11 April 2017. The Panel also had sight of a number of other references although they did not address the issue of dishonesty.

13. The Panel heard evidence from Ms Powell that although the suspension did not have an immediate impact upon her because she was on maternity leave, it has impacted on her since in all that she has done. She has been able to find work in a young offender’s team in a position that did not require her to be registered as a social worker but that is contract work which will end soon and her future is uncertain. She said she was committed to her profession and wanted to return to work as a registered Social Worker.

14. She told the Panel that she had addressed the concerns raised by the Final Hearing panel and that she now closed down files and said proper “goodbyes” to service users when she moved from one job to another.

15. The Registrant told the Panel that she understood the impact on service users who would feel that nobody cared about them. She told the Panel that she had learnt that she must show patience and she was ashamed of the way that she behaved and suffered from the impact that it had had on her former colleagues at BYOS. When questioned, she said she also understood that it would tarnish the reputation of the young offender’s service if her service users discovered that she had been found to be dishonest.

16. She said that the agencies with whom she was registered knew about the Fitness to Practise proceedings and the conclusions of and sanction imposed by the final hearing panel.

17. The Panel heard the advice of the Legal Assessor, which it accepted, and had regard to the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy.

Impairment

18. The Panel first considered whether the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired. It had regard to the concerns raised by the final hearing panel that the Registrant needed to show insight into, and reflection upon, her dishonesty. The Panel concluded that although the Registrant had made considerable progress, she had not developed full insight into the importance of honesty and integrity for a registered Social Worker. For that reason, the Panel was satisfied that the risk of repetition had been greatly reduced but not entirely eliminated. For these reasons the Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Sanction

19. The Panel considered what type of sanction should be imposed, starting with the least restrictive. The Panel had regard to the principle of proportionality and weighed the public interest against the Registrant’s interests.
20. The Panel decided that action needed to be taken to ensure that the public would be protected. A sanction was required to remind the Registrant that she needed to reflect further upon the importance of honesty and integrity in all her dealings as Social Worker.

21. The Panel next considered whether a Caution Order was appropriate. It had regard to paragraph 28 of the HCPC Indicative Sanctions Policy and concluded that this is a case where the Registrant has shown increasing insight and the likelihood of repetition of this conduct is now relatively low, so that a further period of suspension would be disproportionate.

22. The Panel had regard to the progress that the Registrant has already made and concluded that a Caution Order for a period of 12 months would be sufficient to enable her to complete the process of reflection and remediation that has already begun. 

Order

That the Registrar is directed to annotate the register entry of Miss Danielle Ruth Omolar Powell with a caution which is to remain on the register for a period of 1 year from the date this order comes into effect. 

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 28 July 2017.

Hearing history

History of Hearings for Miss Danielle Ruth Omolar Powell

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
27/06/2017 Conduct and Competence Committee Review Hearing Caution
30/06/2016 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Suspended