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Social worker struck off for recording visits which had not happened

Social worker made entries on Liquid Logic about visits she had made to service users which she did not make

Published on 25th September 2019

A social worker who recorded that she had carried out visits to service users when she had not has been struck off the social work register.

 

Mrs Lindsey Daniels, who was employed as a social worker in Doncaster Children’s Service Trust in the Child Sexual Exploitation Team, recorded on the case notes system Liquid Logic that she had conducted visits to Service Users 1,2 and 3 on dates between February and May 2017 when this was not the case.

She also recorded that Service User 8 did not want intervention from a social worker, when that was not accurate and/or true and attempted to close Service User 4’s case on the basis of the inaccurate and/or false information.

Mrs Daniels was employed from 30 June 2015 and when she was first employed she was a newly qualified social worker. She had successfully completed her assessed year in employment under the management of ML, Team Manager.

On 19 May 2017, Service User 5 called the CSE Team to ask when Mrs Daniels would next be visiting her daughter, Service User 1. The call was taken by TN, Advanced Practitioner, who reviewed the electronic case file system, Liquid Logic and found that Mrs Daniels had recorded four recent visits to Service User 1 including a visit on 18 May 2017. TN enquired with Service User 5 whether she had seen Mrs Daniels on any of the four dates recorded and Service User 5 confirmed that these visits had not taken place.

TN informed the team manager ML who proceeded to call other service users on Mrs Daniels' ase load and found that there was further evidence of visits that had been recorded on Liquid Logic, but where the service users did not agree that the visits had taken place.

Around May 2017, MS was appointed Investigating Officer and asked to complete an investigation into the concerns raised.

The Panel found that MS was a credible, clear and reliable witness who made appropriate concessions. During Mrs Daniels interviews with MS, her union representative on her behalf suggested that the delay between the visits recorded by Mrs Daniels on Liquid Logic until May 2017 provided evidence of a conspiracy against her. The Panel did not find that the delay supported the suggestion of a conspiracy or that there was any other evidence of a conspiracy against Mrs Daniels.

The Panel also heard from the team manager ML who they found to be a credible, consistent witness. The Panel found no evidence to support Mrs Daniels' assertion that ML was part of a conspiracy against her. ML frankly admitted that there was tension between Mrs Daniels and another social worker within the team although this social worker had not been informed about the investigation into Mrs Daniels and was not involved in it. She also accepted that she had spoken to the team about bullying. She was adamant that she had not said that either Mrs Daniels or her colleague must leave. The Panel did not detect any animosity or ill feeling from ML towards Mrs Daniels. On the contrary, ML described Mrs Daniels' strengths and said that she liked her.

With regards to Service users 1, 2 and 3, the Panel found the allegations proved based on the evidence of ML, MS, and the documentary evidence.

Furthermore, on 1 March 2017, Mrs Daniels recorded on Liquid Logic that she spoke to Service User 4 on 27 February and recorded that Service User 8 stated that she felt it was unnecessary for her to visit Service User 4.

Investigating officer MS obtained a written statement from Service User 4 in which Service User 4 said that she could not remember the dates. However, she was clear that she did want intervention from the CSE. She had not said that she did not wish intervention for her daughter and had not told Mrs Daniels that she did not want support. Mrs Daniels however then attempted to close Service User 4’s case on the basis of the inaccurate and/or false information.

The Panel said: "The Registrant’s notes of her visits to Service Users 1, 2 and 3 were very detailed. Those notes were a fiction because no visit had taken place. The Registrant was aware that she was expected to visit the service users on her caseload at least once every three weeks.

"The Registrant deliberately created notes to give an impression that she was conducting visits regularly as required. The Panel also concluded that the Registrant’s notes in relation to Service User 4 involved a deliberate fiction because they wrongly recorded that social work intervention was declined. The Registrant knew at the time of the events that the notes she made on Liquid Logic were not true," the Panel added.

The Panel concluded that Mrs Daniels' actions in those particulars were dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.

The Panel also highlighted that service users were exposed to the risk of harm because they had not been visited regularly. The vulnerability of the service users was that they had been referred to Mrs Daniels because of concerns about sexual exploitation by individuals outside their family.

For example, Service User 1 was referred to the team due to internet safety concerns. Service User 1, who was under 12 years old, was alleged to have sent explicit messages to males. Team manager ML explained that young service users who are referred to the team require intensive support and that they may not understand that they are vulnerable to or are being sexually exploited. ML described the Service Users in Mrs Daniels' case load as lower risk, but explained that there was the potential for harm because the work required to support the Service Users and protect them from harm was not being undertaken.

Although there is no evidence of actual harm to the Service Users, the Panel found that there was the potential for harm.

"The Registrant’s dishonesty was elaborate, involving the creation of fictitious detailed accounts of visits which did not take place. The dishonesty was repeated. Her dishonest conduct would be regarded as deplorable by members of the public and the profession," said the Panel. "The Panel heard evidence from ML that the Registrant had health problems and had periods of absence from work. This background circumstance did not explain or excuse the Registrant’s dishonesty."

It was also highlighted that Mrs Daniels engagement with the HCPC has been very limited and there is no information about her current circumstances, level of insight, or any remediation.

Further, dishonesty is not easy to remedy, and in this case the dishonesty was not an isolated incident. Mrs Daniels was dishonest in relation to the recording of visits for vulnerable service users. The dishonesty was in the course of her professional responsibilities and involved a breach of trust.

There was no evidence before the Panel that Mrs Daniels has insight into her dishonest conduct, its seriousness, or its implications. She also sought to blame others by making an unfounded allegation of conspiracy during the investigation carried out by MS. In the Panel’s judgment the risk of repetition is high.

The Panel decided that a mitigating feature was the fact that there had been no fitness to practise history or evidence of prior concerns about Mrs Daniels' practice. The aggravating features were the dishonesty involved a number of service users, a pattern of behaviour repeated over a period of time, vulnerable service users were put at risk of harm and there was a delay in the provision of support to those service users. Further, there was an absence of evidence of insight, apology or remorse, instead she chose to blame others. The nature of the dishonesty was active pre-meditated dishonesty designed to mislead and a breach of trust.

The Panel concluded that a Striking-Off Order would mark the seriousness of Mrs Daniels' misconduct, act as a deterrent to other social workers, and maintain confidence in their profession.

 

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