A Social Worker has been struck off from the HCPC register this week for what can be described as some very basic breaches of practice.
The Social Worker in question had failed to carry out child protection visits and then inaccurately entered case notes stating that the family had been seen and within the allotted timescale. The Social Worker was also found to inaccurately advise her colleagues that the family had cancelled a child protection visit. Following the Social Worker’s dismissal, she met with two Service Users and disclosed that she had never any concerns about their care of their children, or words to that effect. The Social Work did not attend the HCPC Panel and therefore the Panel proceeded in her absence. The Panel described her actions as dishonest and by reason of misconduct and/or lack of competence, the Social Workers fitness to practice was impaired.
Now, we at One Stop Social are not here to pass judgement on the Social Worker in question. She must’ve had her reasons for acting in the manner as stated above and we hope that she can learn from the mistakes made and move forward. From personal experience, I’m sure we are all acutely aware of the stressors within the social work environment, particularly if one feels isolated or unsupported.
However, we cannot hide from the fact that this is a further example of poor practice, carried out by a small number of Social Work Practitioners. Such practice continues to give our profession a bad reputation. This fuels the media’s negative portrayal of our work and subsequently the general public’s opinion.
As a profession that values critical reflection and analysis, what learning can students, newly qualified and experienced practitioners take from this? Well, here are some of the key points:
Never ever falsify your case note records.
Yes, I know there will be a number of you shouting at the screen saying ‘social work isn’t just about computer work’. However, what you cannot deny is the fact that this is a fundamental aspect of our work. The ability to write and complete accurate case notes are now contained as an essential requirement within every Social Work Job Application I have read since 2010. Also, from my personal experience of being involved in an inquest, the court were privy to over 300 of my case notes. I felt I would’ve struggled to justify my work had I not been so detailed in my case notes.
Always remain professional when in the company of Service Users.
Whether in works time or not! Yes, it is important (and we are taught) to build a person-centred relationship. However, you should always maintain a client-professional base.
Undertake work within the allotted timescales.
If you cannot, you must seek guidance from management. Now as a Social Worker myself, I know there are times when this is literally out of your control. However, as a Manager of Social Workers, I maintained that if I was directing any of my staff to re-arrange sessions that it was my responsibility if anything unfortunate were to happen. This for me is what it is meant to be a pro-active and supportive manager.