AN ADULT care home manager who allowed a service user with learning difficulties unrestricted access to a mobile phone which resulted in them sending and receiving explicit images has been banned from working in social care in Wales by a disciplinary panel.

Karen Walden, who at the time was working for Bramble Bay Ltd which operates The Rookery care home in Newcastle Emlyn and two other sites in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire, was the subject of a Social Care Wales fitness to practice hearing on Friday, 25 November.

While Social Care Wales said that it “would only have the company name and not the care home specifically”, Ms Walden, from Ceredigion, was listed in Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) reports from 2020 as the manager at the Newcastle Emlyn facility.

The Social Care Wales hearing was called after the body said it received “allegations of serious safeguarding concerns”.

The conduct proved at the hearing included failing to report a staff member sleeping on the job which “exposed service users to harm” and allowing one service user access to a mobile phone.

The panel found it was “not confident” that Ms Walden would not repeat such conduct – which “fell well short” of its standards.

A spokesperson for Social Care Wales told the Cambrian News: “Ms Walden was employed at the time of the referral as a manager of a care home.

“The home provided support to individuals regarding their mental health, individuals with learning disabilities and adults with personal care needs.

“Ms Walden failed to report that a staff member had been sleeping on a waking night duty, exposing service users to harm.

“Ms Walden then failed to adhere to safeguarding policies by not reporting these concerns and allowed the member of staff to continue in their employment.

“Further, it was found that Ms Walden allowed a service user, with learning difficulties, unrestricted access to a mobile phone, despite this being in contravention of the service user’s care plan.

“This resulted in the service user sending and receiving explicit messages and images.

“The panel was not provided with any evidence or representations from Ms Walden that she has taken any steps to remedy her conduct.

“The panel was not confident that her conduct is unlikely to be repeated, and determined that her conduct fell short of the standards set out within the Code of Professional Practice for Social Care.”

The panel found Ms Walden’s current fitness to practise was impaired and imposed a Removal Order which means she can no longer work in any regulated social care role in Wales and will be placed on the persons removed list.

An immediate order was made to suspend registration from 2 December, pending the removal order on 30 December.

Ms Walden has the right of appeal to the Care Standards Tribunal within 28 days.

A new manager was put in place at the Rookery care home last year, CIW reports show.