Social Worker Spared Suspension After Case Could Be Identified Through Facebook Posting

Despite the continuing warnings about what should and should not be put on social media, a social worker has been received a 12-month conditions of practice order from the HCPC with regards to comments that they put on Facebook. The remarks were made about a child and their child protection court order case.

The first post was regarding the fact that the case was going to court and was being heard the following day and discussing the fact that there was a lot of domestic violence around them. Then afterwards commented about how their lives will be changing for the better. There was a location pin next to it, so it would be clear to people nearby which case was being referred to.

It is reported that when the HCPC was made aware of the comments they described them as “disrespectful and insensitive” and could have led to major repercussions for the people involved.

In her defence the social worker explained that she had not realised that anyone other than her friends were able to see what she had written. It was in fact easy to find as her manager was able to do just that simply by Googling her name.

What the social worker does not seem to have been aware of is the fact that an upgrade could alter the settings and change what was being written so that everyone had access.

It seems that the complaint came from the mother who was involved in the case – known as Mrs A – who was also able to find the posts and said that she was “disgusted” by what had been written.

It has been reported that there would have been around 100 people who would have been able to know who was being discussed, although many of them were also social workers and may have been aware of the case anyone. There was further concern shown after it showed that the comments had appeared in local newspapers.

The panel who listened to the case came to the conclusion that there had to be a finding of impairment delivered as if it was anything else it would lead to the public losing confidence in the organization. It was also noted that after 15 years of service this was the first time there had been an incident to it would be disproportionate to suspend them.

It was determined that there would be a 12 month condition of practice order imposed and as a result the social worker would be supervised by a line manager.