Care worker struck off after secure unit


A CARE worker has been struck off after she hauled a vulnerable 16-year-old through a secure unit and locked her in a room.

Elizabeth Hickey has been barred from the profession after the incident in April 2010 at St Mary’s Kenmure Secure Unit in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow.

Hickey and three colleagues each grabbed a limb of the young woman and placed her in a locked room, after which the girl started a fire.

The care worker then inaccurately recorded the incident in a report, saying the girl had merely been ‘escorted to her room’, a committee of the the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) said.

The committee said she had misused her position of power.

Hickey worked as a supervisor of residential child care workers at the unit, which was likened to a war zone after staff spoke out following a riot in 2008.

She faced six charges of exposing the vulnerable young person, named only as “S”, to increased harm.

She was not present and not represented at the recent hearing in Dundee, and three of the charges were found proven.

These included breaching the unit’s policy by putting S in a single locked room, moving her and failing to accurately record the incident.

Other charges, including touching S and not ensuring a male staff member took the lead when dealing with her, were not found proved ‘to the required standard of proof’, the committee said.

The committee said CCTV evidence from house 3 of the unit showed the young person sitting ‘essentially motionless’ in a living room for over an hour.

They said she was not acting in a threatening manner.

Describing the evidence, the committee said: “At around 16:20 the Registrant participated with three other colleagues in physically moving S from the living room to her bedroom.

“They did so by each taking a limb of S. This was contrary to recognised Therapeutic Crisis Intervention manoeuvres and procedures.”

The 16-year-old then set a fire while in her room, which had an automatic electronic lock, the SSSC committee said.

Describing Hickey’s subsequent report, the committee said: “In relation to the incident when S was moved to her room the form recorded simply that due to ongoing issues S was escorted to her room by staff.”

Announcing its decision, the SSSC conduct committee said: “The Registrant’s misconduct was very serious.  Her actions and omissions were fundamentally incompatible with being a social service worker.

“In moving the service user in the manner she did, the Registrant created a real risk of physical harm to the service user and others and psychological harm to the service user.

“Her failure to make a full and accurate record of the incident was at best misleading, at worst concealment.”

The committee said Hickey had “abused S’s trust and failed responsibly to use the power that came from her position.”

It said there were “significant omissions and inaccuracies in her record keeping” and she “failed to follow practices and procedures designed to keep her, service users and others safe from violent and abusive behaviour at work.”

It added that removing her from the register was the only appropriate sanction.

St Mary’s Kenmure Secure Unit was temporarily closed following a riot in 2008, which allowed some young offenders to escape and caused more than £200,000 of damage.

The unit currently houses around 20 young offenders and young people deemed to be at risk. It is run by the Cora Foundation charity for the Catholic Church.

After the riot a worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Each shift in this place feels like a tour of duty.

“Staff have been off left, right and centre with broken noses, ribs and wrists, facial injuries and bite wounds.”

A representative of the unit was unavailable for comment.