A home care manager based in Bangor has been removed from the Welsh Register for Social Care Workers after a hearing found her fitness to practise is “impaired” due to “serious misconduct”.
Home care workers in Wales were required to register with the statutory regulator, Social Care Wales, in April 2020, in order to be allowed to work in social care. England is the only country in the UK not to enforce registration for care workers.
The hearing was told that between 2016 and 2019 Bella Cotos borrowed money from a vulnerable person receiving care and support, and allowed other staff members to do the same.
It heard how Cotos failed to make sure accurate financial records were kept and that all the money belonging to the vulnerable person was accounted for.
The hearing was also told that Cotos failed to manage the service properly by allowing staff to use their personal email accounts to send and receive confidential information. She also failed to make sure staff received appropriate supervision and training.
In addition, the hearing was told that Cotos failed to carry out the appropriate checks and risk assessments when she hired a new member of staff with a lengthy criminal record that included thefts and drug offences.
After considering the evidence, the panel concluded that some of Cotos’s conduct was “dishonest and lacked integrity”, and that her fitness to practise was currently “impaired” because of serious misconduct.
Explaining the decision, the said: “[Ms Cotos’s] actions did pose a risk of harm to individuals receiving support. The misconduct was serious and had the potential to undermine public trust significantly, particularly in respect of the custody of [the vulnerable person’s] money and the employment of [a staff member with a criminal record].”
The panel continued: “Ms Cotos has not engaged in this process at all and has not, therefore, put forward any evidence of steps that she has taken to ensure that similar problems do not occur in the future.
“She conducted herself in a way which calls into question whether she can be relied on in the future and has done nothing to provide reassurance that trust can now be placed in her to meet proper professional standards.”
The panel decided to remove Ms Cotos from the register, stating: “[Ms Cotos’s] conduct fell significantly short of the standards set out within the Code of Professional Practice for Social Care.
“It had the potential to cause actual harm to persons using care and support and to undermine public confidence in the service she managed and the wider domiciliary care workforce.”
The panel continued: “In the absence of any steps by Ms Cotos to reduce the risk of future mismanagement of domiciliary care services, no other disposal affords sufficient public protection.”
Cotos was not present at the six-day joint hearing, which took place over Zoom earlier this month.