You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Social worker sacked over made-up visits to vulnerable family

LancsLive logo LancsLive 23/11/2022 Jamie Lopez
County Hall, home of Lancashire County Council © Lancs Live County Hall, home of Lancashire County Council

A social care worker was sacked after making up details of visits and discussions with a family.

Jessica Johnson falsely recorded home visits to a family while working for Lancashire County Council. But her lies were uncovered when the child’s mum spotted the untrue notes and complained to the local authority.

Ms Johnson said the mistakes stemmed from writing down intended visits and forgetting to edit the records when they couldn’t be completed or when phone calls went unanswered. She would go on to blame factors including an overly high workload but apologised and said she was “ashamed” of her actions.

READ MORE: Council tax rises and regional investment zones shake-up in Autumn Statement

Ms Johnson was registered as a social worker from November 2018 and first ran into problems three years later when she recorded a visit to a family that never took place. When a complaint was raised two months later, she attempted to amend the record to say she visited the house but did not get an answer.

When asked by her line manager why a change had been made, she said “oh I don’t know” and later admitted she had falsified the record. According to Lancashire County Council’s investigation, she “is said to have suggested that they did this as a result of the pressure the team were under and not wanting to pass on additional tasks to duty workers.”

The initial details of that non-existent visit, which was said to have taken place on September 17 last year, included an imagined interaction in which family members discussed the child’s birth, “spoke lovingly” of the baby and asked for the visit to be completed at a later date. The amended entry simply stated: “Unannounced visit to the family home. No answer.’’

Another visit was recorded despite taking place over the phone - this time to the child’s grandmother. Ms Johnson later conceded she intended to visit and instead made a phone call but it remains disputed whether any conversation took place at all.

After Johnson was sacked by Lancashire County Council, the local authority referred the matter to Social Care England, a body whose “primary objective is to protect the public”. The case examiners analysed the case and spoke with Ms Johnson to understand her reflections on what had happened.

While they said no-one was harmed through the dishonesty, they also pointed to the wider implications. They said: “Whilst there is no sense that service users were harmed as a result of the social worker’s actions however, an action that, by good fortune, has not caused harm may represent an unacceptable risk of harm of [repetition].

“The social worker was employed to support vulnerable children and families and their actions in suggesting that children and their families had been visited when they had not could have placed individuals at risk of harm. Furthermore, the social worker’s actions in presenting assessment reports that may have been misleading or inaccurate reflects negatively upon the wider profession as well as the social worker individually.”

The case examiners said they considered Ms Johnson to be “remorseful” and “insightful” and noted she was now working more successfully at an agency with a lower workload. This, they said, had a positive impact on their assessment of likelihood of repeat behaviour.

In her own response, Ms Johnson said: “I would like to apologise to yourselves, the family, my previous employers and colleagues. I will never do anything like this again moving forward. I am ashamed of doing this. I will not allow difficulties in the team/ environment to impact upon my social work practice. I will take control as there will always be difficulties within social work practice.”

The examiners imposed a two-year conditions of practice order which includes rules such as informing Social Work England of any new jobs and informing employers of this action.

A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: "We expect high standards from our social workers. We take any allegations very seriously and work with organisations such as Social Work England to address any issues that are brought to our attention."

READ NEXT

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from LancsLive

LancsLive
LancsLive
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon