An Ayrshire care at home support worker sat on a vulnerable man’s knees while he was using the toilet before telling a colleague: ‘Don’t tell the bosses.’
On another occasion, Lorna Cuthbertson was found to have placed the client’s hands above his head, again while using the lavatory.
The details of the strange behaviour emerged this week in a written judgement by the industry regulator, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), who handed Cuthbertson a severe reprimand and placed a warning on her registration for a period of 18 months.
In its Findings of Fact report, the SSSC said the offences took place on two occasions on April 17 last year, while Cuthbertson was employed as a support practitioner at Partners for Inclusion, in Kilmarnock’s West Portland Street, and that her fitness to practise was “impaired” due to “misconduct.”
The client, known only as ‘AA,’ was said to have been left “distressed” by Cuthbertson’s actions.
And when the incident unfolded, Cuthbertson said to a colleague: “Don’t go back and tell the bosses you have seen this”, or words to that effect.
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It’s understood that Cuthbertson was using ‘her method’ to prevent her client from smearing his faeces.
However, the SSSC said the tactic she employed was “completely unacceptable.”
In its report, the SSSC said: “You [Cuthbertson] held AA’s hand and then sat on his knee while he was using the toilet.
“You told your colleague that this was your method for controlling AA’s behaviour as AA was known to smear his faeces with his hands.
“While you were preventing AA from smearing his faeces, the method you used was completely unacceptable.”
The report goes on: “You were aware of the correct method which was to talk to AA to prevent him from smearing his faeces.
“You were aware that the method you used was wrong as you told your colleague not to tell management she has seen you use this method.”
Cuthbertson, who denied the behaviour, did have some factors in her favour, according to the SSSC report.
She had been in her role since 2014 and the SSSC said it was “not aware of any other concerning behaviour” and that her risk of repetition was assessed as “moderate.” She also cooperated with the SSSC’s investigation.
The SSSC said: “While there was no known physical harm to AA your [Cuthbertson’s] behaviour did distress AA.
“Taking into account the seriousness of the behaviour and also the risk of repetition, there is a need to protect the public from this type of behaviour.”
The panel concluded: “We consider that members of the public would have concerns about you working with vulnerable people if no action was taken.
“It is important that proper standards of conduct and behaviour are seen to be upheld. We consider that this is a matter where a finding of impairment is required to reaffirm clear standards of professional conduct.
“A reasonable informed member of the public, taking into account all of the information available to the SSSC would conclude that your fitness to practice is currently impaired.”
Cuthbertson’s warning notice came into effect on Friday, September 24.
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