A residential child care worker has been found unfit to practise and removed from the Social Care Register after a Care Council for Wales Fitness to Practise hearing found she’d formed an inappropriate relationship with a former resident of the home where she worked.
The hearing heard that Deborah Elaine Smith – who worked at a South Wales children’s home for 12 years until she was suspended, then dismissed over the allegations – had formed an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable former resident of the home between January 2014 and July 2015.
Ms Smith, who was not present at the two-day hearing in Cardiff, accepted that she had a supportive friendship with the former resident, known as Person A, but denied it was inappropriate.
On hearing the evidence, the committee decided there was no reason for Ms Smith to have contacted or befriended the vulnerable young woman and she had allowed an inappropriate dependency to form. The relationship also went against the practice of the children’s home and the advice of the home’s manager.
The committee concluded that Ms Smith’s fitness to practise was impaired because of her misconduct.
In summarising the reasons for its decision, the committee said that Ms Smith lacked insight into her misconduct and the impact it had on others, and did not express any regret or remorse for her actions.
In written statements submitted to the hearing, Ms Smith strongly denied wrong-doing, refusing to accept that she had harmed or posed a risk to Person A.
But the committee found Ms Smith’s behaviour amounted to pre-meditated wrong-doing and concealment of wrong-doing as she was not open about the relationship and chose to continue it before and during her employer’s disciplinary procedure.
Explaining its decision to remove Ms Smith from the register, the committee said: “The registrant’s [Ms Smith’s] decision to engage in and continue her relationship with Person A was fundamentally incompatible with her role as a registered residential child care worker. She has shown a persistent lack of insight into the inappropriateness of her actions. The committee decided that, in the absence of participation by the registrant, there was no other means to protect the public.”