Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland care worker struck off for stealing from vulnerable patients

A care assistant has been removed from the social care register after she was secretly filmed stealing money from a vulnerable patient. (John Stillwell/PA)
A care assistant has been removed from the social care register after she was secretly filmed stealing money from a vulnerable patient. (John Stillwell/PA)
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A care assistant has been removed from the social care register after she was secretly filmed stealing money from a vulnerable patient.

Mhegan McCaffrey, from Cabra, Co Down, pleaded guilty to nine counts of theft, totalling £210, in February after stealing money from two homes she visited in her role as a residential and domiciliary care worker.

Following a session of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council's (NISCC) fitness to practise committee on October 2, which McCaffrey did not attend, it was ordered that she be removed from the care register.

The decision came after a court ordered her to return the money to the victims and complete 100 hours of community service.

Welcoming the findings of the fitness to practise committee, Aidan Hanna from Northern Ireland Patient Voice said: "This case shows the importance of families considering the use of covert cameras if they think a loved one who is a vulnerable adult is being abused."

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust said that while it did not comment on specific staffing matters, it was assured that all appropriate actions were followed in the case.

The thefts occurred between May 1 and July 11 last year while McCaffrey was employed by Peacehaven Care Services Ltd.

The NISCC fitness to practise committee report, seen by the Belfast Telegraph, indicates that she started working with the Rathfriland company on November 24, 2017.

Outlining the background to the thefts, the report explains that Peacehaven was informed of the concerns by "User A's" family on July 11 last year.

The manager of the company attended User A's home and was provided with several video clips taken by a covert camera which appeared to show McCaffrey lifting the woman's handbag and putting something in her pocket.

The family said that money had been recorded as missing from their loved one's purse over a period of time.

It later came to light that McCaffrey had been using the ATM card of another woman, referred to as User B.

The carer was arrested and interviewed by the PSNI on July 17 last year after Peacehaven reported the incidents.

Following deliberations, the fitness to practise committee concluded that McCaffrey had breached a "fundamental tenet" of the profession.

The committee held that she had brought the profession into disrepute and decided that the only appropriate sanction was to impose a removal order.

"The registrant (McCaffrey) acted in a reprehensible fashion in stealing from vulnerable service users, for whom she was charged to provide care, and has fallen far short of the standards to be expected from a member of the social care workforce," the report stated.

"The registrant has not demonstrated insight. Neither has she produced evidence of remedial action that would reassure the committee that she would not repeat her dishonest behaviour in the future."

McCaffrey, who cannot be restored to the NISCC's register for five years, was also prohibited from working as a social care worker or managing a children's home, residential care home, nursing home or residential family centre.

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