Bathgate care home worker struck off by Scottish Social Services Council after beating up empathy doll

The incident happened three years ago at a Bathgate care home

A care assistant who hit a doll on the face and body and threw it on the floor in front of a vulnerable resident has been struck off.

Paula Lambert was investigated by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) after they received reports of her having beaten up the empathy doll – a support and therapy tool for children and vulnerable adults – in front of a service user. As well as hitting the doll, she is said to have poked it in the face and, according to the report, later told colleagues “I do it all the time, it’s funny” or words to that effect.

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As a result of the incident, which occurred in August 2019 when she worked for HC-One Limited at Redmill Nursing Home in East Whitburn, Bathgate, Lambert has been struck off effective from today.

A stock photo of an empathy doll

In its report, the SSSC said: “You have behaved in a way that caused distress to a service user. You have hit the empathy doll on the face and body and thrown it on the floor. This was all done in the presence of a service user. The therapy doll was there to provide comfort to [the resident]. Your behaviour shows a lack of respect for [the resident] and a failure to treat them as an individual. You have also failed, through your behaviour, to recognise the responsibility and authority you have when working with services users.

"You have also said that you ‘do it all the time, and it’s funny’. This is not appropriate and shows a disregard for the use and purpose of the therapy doll. Your behaviour falls below the standards expected of workers and calls into question your suitability to work as part of the social services profession.”

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An empathy doll enables children as well as adults with dementia to explore their feelings in a non-threatening way giving the key person/supporting practitioner opportunity to 'tune in' to the person’s emotional state of mind and providing time for the person to be listened to.

In imposing a removal order on Lambert, the SSSC added in its findings that the care home resident with dementia was left distressed by the incident and that Lambert had “abused the trust placed in you by your employer, service users, your colleagues and the SSSC”.

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Criticising Lambert for not engaging with the investigation, the findings explained why she did not receive a simple warning or suspension: “Your actions and your behaviour suggests an underlying attitudinal issue which would not be addressed during a period of suspension.” It went on: “The SSSC considers a Removal Order is the most appropriate sanction as it is both necessary and justified in the public interest and to maintain the continuing trust and confidence in the social service profession and the SSSC as the regulator of the profession.”