Carer struck off for accepting pills and cash from service user

Pamela Duff’s actions were branded a 'gross breach of trust' following an investigation by the SSSC.

Carer struck off for accepting pills and cash from service user iStock

A carer has been struck off for accepting painkillers and money for food and cigarettes from a service user.

Pamela Duff’s actions were branded a “gross breach of trust” following an investigation by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

Duff, who was working for Carewatch in North Ayrshire, repeatedly received bank transfers from the man between December 2019 and October 2020.

The SSSC reported that the money – for food and cigarettes and loans – amounted to more than £1400.

During that time, text messages also showed that Duff had asked and received painkiller tablets from the service user on a couple of occasions.

In a written ruling published this month, the SSSC found her fitness to practise impaired.

The watchdog said: “You accepted money for varying purposes and medication from a service user while employed as his carer and beyond.

“This involved repeated instances of this behaviour over nearly ten months.

“It is behaviour indicative of your values that is not easily remediable, if at all.

“It is a gross breach of trust and was behaviour that fell far below the standards expected of a social service worker.

“It is behaviour that risks bringing into disrepute the social services profession.”

Duff engaged with the SSSC’s investigation, but reportedly had a lack of developed insight into the seriousness of the behaviour.

The SSSC noted: “While there is no indication that there have been previous such issues, your apparent reasoning that you were trying to improve the service user’s life and had their consent to accept money and medication demonstrates that you do not understand proper professional boundaries.”

The watchdog stated that the risk of repetition was high, adding: “The behaviour resulted in emotional harm to the service user.

“The behaviour could have resulted in physical and financial harm to the service if he had insufficient medication or if money was not paid back to the service user.

“There was a clear abuse of trust given the influence the worker had to obtain money and medication.”

In conclusion, the watchdog said a removal order was the “most appropriate sanction” to maintain the “continuing trust and confidence in the social service profession and the SSSC as the regulator of the profession”.

The removal order came into effect on January 7.