A social worker accused of a catalogue of blunders took a family to KFC because she was hungry and told another about her own mental health problems, a hearing has been told.

Jane Hallam allegedly made many errors while caring for seven children, including behaving in an ‘intimidating’ manner and blurring the lines between her private and working life at Manchester council.

She is said to have shocked a 16-year-old boy by asking him how his parents would react if someone burst into their home with a gun.  The hearing was also told how Miss Hallam took a reluctant family to get fast-food at KFC because she was hungry, and on another occasion ferried her boyfriend around while making work trips in her car.

She is also accused of failing to deal correctly with children whose parents were mentally ill; breaching confidentiality rules by telling her boyfriend about a family’s case and inappropriately told one family about her own mental health issues.

Julie Norris, for the Health and Care Professions Council, said Miss Hallam had repeatedly failed to maintain appropriate boundaries with the families she was working with.

It is evident from this hearing that Miss Hallam failed to meet some of the most basic standards in relation to child protection and fell far below the standards expected from her.

Why can this be allowed to happen one may ask? The reason is simple almost one third of the UK’s social workers are not currently receiving any supervision, research  by Community Care has revealed, and just over half said they would not class any of their current supervision as reflective.

There is a Code of conduct for support workers which sets out the level of conduct expected of all healthcare support workers, an example of some of theses guidelines are below;

  1. Protect the rights and promote the interests of individuals, key people and others.
  2. Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of individuals, key people and others.
  3. Uphold public trust and confidence in health and social care services by protecting individuals from abuse, neglect and harm.
  4. Be accountable for the quality of your work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving your knowledge and skills.
  5. Take responsibility for how you communicate with and on behalf of individuals.

There have been many of the code of conduct rules broken by Miss Hallam and it is imperative that lessons are learned from this hearing regarding the supervision of social workers. Social workers are in place to represent, protect and help the most venerable in our society and the evidence given in this case questions the very fundamentals of these core duties.

Certainly, in the work we conduct in the area of abuse compensation claims, there have been many instances where the social workers involved with children have failed in a number of their duties and opportunities to stop any further abuse from occurring have either been missed or ‘lost in the system’. In such circumstances, it may be possible for us to pursue a claim for negligence against the relevant local authority. For more information, or a no obligation discussion about your case, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Jonathan Bridge, Abuse Claim Solicitor