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Dundee care worker drank alcohol before helping blind and paralysed man

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) HQ at Compass House in Dundee.
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) HQ at Compass House in Dundee.

A Dundee carer has been struck off for being under the influence of alcohol while she helped a blind and paralysed man in his own home.

Karen Harper was employed as a support worker by Sense Scotland at the time of the incident on or around Christmas Eve 2020.

She was assisting the man, who had a severe learning disability and was a wheelchair user, with everyday tasks like cleaning and cooking.

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) has now removed Harper from its register after finding she had put the “very vulnerable service user at substantial risk of harm”.

The watchdog heard how Harper also fell asleep at the man’s home when he was not there.

Speech slurred and ‘difficulty processing information’

In its ruling, the watchdog labelled Harper’s actions “neglectful” and “incompatible with professional registration”.

It said: “Your actions have placed not only you, but also services users and potentially colleagues at risk of harm.

“You were found asleep on a service user’s sofa. Your speech was slurred and you had a difficulty processing information.

Your actions could have resulted in both serious physical and emotional harm

SSSC report

“You gave conflicting stories when questioned.

“This calls into question your ability to be trustworthy.

“It also calls into question your reliability and dependability.”

Harper has now been removed from the SSSC registry, with the regulator adding: “Your actions could have resulted in both serious physical and emotional harm.

“You also placed yourself and your colleague and risk of harm.

“There is a real risk that other services users would be placed at risk of physical and emotional harm should you be allowed to continue to practise without restriction.

“Allowing you to remain registered with the SSSC would undermine the public’s confidence in the profession and in the SSSC as a regulator.”

Carer: ‘I was struggling with my mental health’

Following the incident, Harper resigned from her post at Sense Scotland.

When approached by The Courier about the SSSC decision, she said: “At the time I was struggling with my mental health and physical disability.

“I resigned on the spot and I have no intention to return to that type of work.

“In fact, I have been declared unfit to work at all now.”

A spokesperson for Sense Scotland said: “I can confirm that Sense Scotland suspended this employee on the day of the incident in December 2020.

“We immediately reported our concerns to the SSSC and the Care Inspectorate and began an internal investigation.

“This employee did not work for Sense Scotland again and their employment with us was terminated.

“We investigate all allegations and have robust policies and procedures in place to protect and safeguard the people we support.”

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