We find that your fitness to practise is currently impaired.
We have extended and varied the Conditional Registration Order in the terms set out below.
We have carefully read a bundle of papers and have heard submissions made by Social Care Wales and the submissions and evidence which you gave. We have accepted legal advice.
You are registered with Social Care Wales as a Qualified Social Worker. On 1 and 2 July 2019, you participated in a fitness to practise hearing and were made subject to a Conditional Registration Order. We are today reviewing that order. This is a scheduled review of the order; it is not alleged that you have breached any of the terms of the order.
Our first task is to review the question of whether your fitness to practise is currently impaired. If we conclude that it is, then we must address the question of what other action might need to be taken.
The background circumstances to the imposition of the order are set out in detail within the original Fitness to Practise Hearing decision and we will not repeat them in full here. The essential facts are that in 2016 and early 2017 you were working as a social worker in a child protection role. You did not visit the homes of nine separate families with the frequency that was required. On some of the occasions that you did visit, your notes of those visits were insufficient. You also accepted that you did not respond to police referrals by taking appropriate action and recording the steps that you had taken.
Given that you were showing some insight into these difficulties and given that you had appropriate social care values and commitment, it was thought appropriate to impose a Conditional Registration Order. The order included conditions that you should notify any new employer of the issues and that you should be supervised in any new role. You were also required to undertake further training in:
- time management
- stress management, and
- reflective social work practice
The Conditional Registration Order had a duration of 18 months with a review being required at the 16 month point. The training was to be completed within the first 14 months.
On 4 March 2020, Social Care Wales gave approval for a number of courses of training that you had identified. You were invited to find a face-to-face time management and stress management course rather than completing that element solely through online learning. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to combat it, led to the postponement of the stress management training and a time management course was switched to being online only. The stress management training was subsequently further postponed until 3 and 4 November 2020.
You have provided certificates in respect of the following courses and providers:
- Time management: Revolution learning development
- Time management: High-speed training
- Stress Management: High-speed training
- Reflective social work practice: open learning online training - the Open University
You also provided three character references and a document which sets out what you have taken from each of the pieces of training and you told us more about what you had learnt during the hearing.
We were satisfied that the training you had completed was adequate to satisfy the requirements of the relevant parts of the Conditional Registration Order. However, the training requirement was only one element of that order. It was intended that you would have returned to social work practice and would have had opportunity to demonstrate your fitness through working under supervision with the benefit of the training that you have received. You have not returned to work during the period since July 2019 and have not now been in regulated employment since 2017.
You have not yet applied for work but you have confirmed that you have kept your Post-Registration Training and Learning up to date. You told us that, whilst you could have returned to work because appropriate posts are available, you wanted to look into the training conditions first to show future employers that you had already taken steps to deal with the issues identified at the Fitness to Practise Hearing.
When asked what you had learnt from the training about how to manage those stresses, you said that you had learnt a lot about self-care and ensuring that you are functioning as a person to endure the pressures. You said that if you were in a difficult situation again you would be able to approach management and constructively share the issue and ask for help.
You said that you would like to look for a social work position before this Christmas.
You had undertaken stress management training in the week before this hearing and you explained what you had learnt from that. You mentioned that stress needed to be acknowledged and changes made, even if those changes were small. You explained the “80/20” rule which involved working out which factors imposed the majority of the stress.
In response to questions from the panel, you said that you had contemplated looking for work which was not front-line initially or which was part-time. You said that you have not looked at community work because your time has primarily been taken up with care for your own family. We acknowledge that the coronavirus pandemic will have had as significant effect on your plans.
Our concern was that your application of what you learnt from the training was untested. You conceded when asked that undertaking the training was something that you could do in a non-pressured environment over which you had control, without the stresses of circumstances and workload that can exist in the workplace.
You accepted that it was important that someone has oversight of the way that you practised. You said that you understood that it was necessary for you to return to practise for the other conditions to be met.
Taking all of the information that you provided to us into consideration, we have concluded that your fitness to practise is still impaired because the misconduct which you admitted was serious and there is insufficient evidence of steps to prevent its repetition. You have not demonstrated the ability to manage stress and time in the workplace.
The giving of Advice or imposition of a Warning would not be appropriate because there is no evidence that the risk of repetition has diminished significantly since the hearing in July 2019.
We have decided that it is necessary for the Conditional Registration Order to be extended with amended conditions. We have revoked the conditions in relation to training (conditions 9 to 12) because they have already been complied with. We have decided that it is necessary that the conditions in relation to notification and supervision should remain in place for a further 12 months from today but we have varied condition 8 so as to increase the frequency with which you are to provide supervision reports in the initial period of employment. We direct that this order should be reviewed no later than nine months from today.
Our expectation is that you will be able to show a track record of applying your training by working under supervision for a number of months by the time of that review. That will be important evidence of the remediation of the impairment of your fitness to practise. We cannot bind any future panel but, in the absence of that evidence, a future panel may have to question whether you have shown commitment to remediate.
The order we impose is as follows:
Informing prospective employers
- You must inform the following individuals and/or organisations that you have conditions imposed on your registration under the Social Care Wales Fitness to Practise procedures and disclose the conditions to them:
- Any organisation or person employing, contracting with, or using you to undertake social work;
- Any social care agency you are registered with or apply to be registered with (at the time of application);
- Any prospective social care employer (at the time of application).
- You must inform SCW within five working days of accepting any social work appointment (whether paid or unpaid) which requires registration with SCW, and provide SCW with contact details of the new employer, the job title of the role you have accepted, and the address of your new place of work.
- You must also provide written confirmation from your new employer that they are aware of the conditions imposed and that they are willing to support you to comply with the conditions.
Notifying Social Care Wales of any future professional investigation
- You must inform SCW of any professional investigation started against you and / or any professional disciplinary proceedings taken against you within five working days of you receiving notice of them.
- When employed and working as a social worker, you must remain under the supervision of a Team Manager or another designated person nominated by your employer suitable to act as a mentor or supervisor.
- The supervision meetings must be held on a two-weekly basis for the first three months of your employment and thereafter on a monthly basis whilst these conditions remain in force.
- The supervision meetings should Include consideration of:
- your record-keeping;
- your compliance with statutory timescales for visits to families;
- evidence of your use of reflective practice;
- your observation of professional boundaries both with your colleagues and with the individuals with whom you work;
- your professional time management.
- You must provide to Social Care Wales copies of your supervision records signed by the supervisor on a fortnightly basis during the first three months of your employment and thereafter on a monthly basis redacted as necessary to remove sensitive information about individuals using services.
This extended Conditional Registration Order has a duration of 12 months from 9 November 2020 and a review of this order must be completed by no later than nine months from today.