Care home boss struck off for buying cabbage with residents’ cash

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A CARE home manager who used company funds to buy herself kale, bottled water and knee gel has been struck off.

Irene Sharp was in charge of the Westerlands Care Home in Stirling when she bought items using elderly residents’ petty cash and company funds.

Mrs Sharp, who has appeared in a dementia awareness training video with Stirling Council, also bought two clocks and a pair of sandals without authorisation.

Mrs Sharp appeared in a Stirling Council video
Mrs Sharp appeared in a Stirling Council video

She has now been removed from the register after being hauled in front of the industry watchdog, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

At a hearing held in Dundee this month, Mrs Sharp admitted the 11 charges against her, all of which took place between 1 January 2003 and 30 April 2014 at Westerlands Care Home.

The first charge reads that while employed as a manager, she “purchased a number of items, which were not for service users… using money from the service user’s petty cash fund or a company credit card”.

It details that on the 10 March 2014, from ‘Cosyfeet’, she bought “a pair of sandals, knee support and knee gel”.

During the same month, she also “bought two clocks from Waitrose” using money that was not hers.

Another charge reads that using a company credit card, she purchased “red football team coloured duvet covers, newspapers, curly kale and Evian still water” which were not for the care home.

All incidents took place at the Westerlands Care Home
All incidents took place at the Westerlands Care Home

The SSSC did not disclose the price of each item purchased by Mrs Sharp, but curly kale can be bought for about £1, Evian water costs roughly 90p, Cosyfeet knee gel retails for £5 and their knee support costs £10 online.

It was also proven that on a date prior to September 2010, she “opened a Bank of Scotland account for Westerlands Association in her own name without authorisation”.

She also “failed to produce receipts for the items she purchased using the company credit card” and told a colleague “don’t you dare speak to me like that” while slamming her hand on the table.

The SSSC panel ruled that the charges amounted to misconduct because her “behaviour was dishonest and an abuse of her position as a care home manager”.

They said that her dishonesty “placed vulnerable service users at risk or financial loss/resulted in financial loss to service users and the loss of those opportunities for which the funds were meant to be set aside.”

A spokesman for the home said they continue to provide quality care
A spokesman for the home said they continue to provide quality care

In addition, she “deprived her employer by misuse of their funds to meet her personal expenses”.

Detailing their factors of concern, the SSSC panel explained that “some of the items were subsequently returned to Westerlands Association, which suggests she attempted to conceal her wrongdoing”.

They added that “the financial dishonesty was premeditated” with a likelihood of being repeated.

It was decided that a removal order was the most suitable sanction, to which Ms Sharp gave her consent.

In 2012, Mrs Sharp appeared in a Stirling Council video which described a dementia training project delivered to migrant workers in the care sector.

In the video, Mrs Sharp describes the positive effects the training has had on staff and residents at Westerlands Care Home.

 

A spokesman for Westerlands Care Home said: “Following an investigation we can confirm that Mrs Irene Sharp was dismissed from Westerlands Care Home.

“As a result of this, Mrs Sharp was dismissed from her role as care home manager. The case was immediately referred to the SSSC who also investigated the events leading to her dismissal and carried out an investigation of their own.

“We would like to take this opportunity to assure all stakeholders that at no time was the safety or quality of care of our residents compromised in any way.

“We are pleased to confirm that since this dismissal and a new management, our grades as given by the care inspectorate have improved in all areas.

“The care home is now and has been since the previous manager, continuing to provide quality care and compassion to our residents.”

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