Three residential child care workers and their manager have been removed from the Register of Social Care Workers after a hearing found their fitness to practise was currently impaired because of serious misconduct.
Two other residential child care workers from the same children’s home have been allowed to continue working after the panel found their fitness to practise was not currently impaired.
Megan Boulter, Ross Sheehan, Sarah Davies, Christopher Lloyd, Rachel Williams and Scott Grubb were all employed at a children’s home in Blackwood at the time of the incidents in question, where they were responsible for looking after two vulnerable young people.
The hearing was told all six took part in a WhatsApp group, set up by the home’s manager Mr Grubb, in which they made offensive and derogatory comments about the two young residents and their families.
The messages came to light in November 2017 when one of the young people at the home found and read the messages on Ms Boulter’s mobile phone, which Ms Boulter had given to the young person and allowed her to use unsupervised.
Following the discovery of the messages, the two residents were distressed and ran away.
Having heard the evidence, the panel found the fitness to practise of all six workers was impaired because of serious misconduct.
Explaining its decision, the panel said: “We accept the views expressed within the group were not those expressed directly to the young people. Within the group, the registered persons presented as meaner versions of themselves.
“Nevertheless, each person’s participation in and failure to report the exchange of messages of itself amounted to serious misconduct.
“This is because the exchange included messages which were so offensive and inappropriate that any engagement in the exchange without reporting or challenging it was conduct that fell far short of that which would be proper for a residential child care worker at any level of seniority.
“The individuals have different levels of culpability, but in each case their behaviour is properly described as shocking and totally unacceptable.
“All the registered persons, except for one, have expressed remorse at some point and three of them have expressed a wish to apologise to the young people directly. “The making of direct apologies would need to be organised properly with social work involvement, ensuring that it is the right thing for the young people.
“We agree with Social Care Wales that the serious misconduct is remediable. The key question in this case is whether in each case it has been remedied.”
The panel found that while the fitness to practise of Ms Williams and Mr Lloyd was impaired, they had shown evidence of having learned from and remedied their behaviour. They were therefore free to continue practising in a registered social care role in Wales.
But the panel decided to remove Mr Grubb, Ms Boulter, Ms Davies and Mr Sheehan from the Register because of a lack of evidence that they had remedied their behaviour.
The five-day hearing took place last week at our Cardiff office.