A West Lothian child care worker has been warned for giving teenagers in her care massages and “inappropriate” Christmas presents.
Clare Dunlop was employed as a residential child care worker in Bathgate between 2019 and 2020 when the incidents in question occurred.
On or around December 23, 2019, she purchased an item with a sexual connotation and gave it to a 16-year-old service user, dubbed CC to protect their anonymity.
Around the same time, she also gave another item with a sexual connotation to 16-year-old service user BB.
On or around March 3, 2020, Ms Dunlop was also found to have given a massage to 17-year-old service user AA’s calves with a massage bar, as well as a back massage to BB.
These incidents were proven via evidence in a hearing by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), who dubbed them “unprofessional” and a “breach of trust”.
The SSSC said: “Social service workers are expected to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with service users they support.
It added: “Such behaviour has the potential to be misinterpreted by the service users and could lead them to believe that all social service workers would treat them in this way.
“This could create a misguided and unrealistic expectation on their part, which may affect how they interact with other workers in the future. As such, your behaviour placed the service users at risk of emotional harm.”
Ms Dunlop was also found to display a “pattern of behaviour” as she has been found unfit to practise once before, in March 2020, when a 12-month warning was placed on her registration.
“The circumstances of this incident were broadly similar in that you failed to recognise the professional boundaries that are expected between a worker and service user,” the SSSC said.
The watchdog also highlighted that she had not displayed “any insight nor regret” for giving massages to the teenaged service users.
Ms Dunlop did, however, accept responsibility for the inappropriate nature of the Christmas presents she bought for the young people.
The SSSC placed a 12-month warning on her registration, with conditions to practise in place.