Helen Winter and Kids Company

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Spatch
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Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by Spatch » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:35 pm

Has anyone been following the Helen Winter case? The hearings finish on Friday, and I am curious about what will be decided.
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016 ... ung-client

Clearly it's not the best way for a CP to hold herself, but I was interested in people's views about whether this sort of conduct should warrant being struck off, or if there is scope for coming back from this. If we could think about this in the context of operating in a service seems poor boundaries and being maverick in it's approach, could this type of behaviour be forgivable or is it a step too far and the damage has already been done?
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by Will » Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:44 pm

I am sympathetic, she certainly sounds like she regrets her actions and maybe she had things that were influencing her decision making at the time. But...
letting two vulnerable young people, known only as clients C and D, stay at her flat
Winter was seen offering MDMA to a vulnerable young person, known only as client C, in a toilet cubicle.
honestly? I'm struggling to see a way back. It will be interesting to hear their decision.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by eponymous85 » Thu Jan 14, 2016 3:00 pm

I'm loath to discuss this in a public forum when the topic is of media interest. But as Will says, its hard to see how you can come back from that. What were your reactions Spatch?
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by firegal » Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:03 pm

This is very much a thinking out loud post because I think it's an interesting discussion.

My gut reaction is that there is no coming back from this. But when I think about it more doesn't CP kind of hang on a belief that people are capable of change? My thought process is we have to hold on to this core belief that behaviours can be changed, but we are also expected to be risk aware and realistic and recognise that knowing they can doesn't mean expecting that they always do. How you actually figure out that she has learned her lesson and will respect boundaries in the future without potentially putting future clients at 'risk' I don't know.

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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by Loula » Thu Jan 14, 2016 7:43 pm

There has been an update to this http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016 ... -to-client- she has been suspended for an interim of 18 months and on 10th Feb will find out if she is to be struck off.

If anyone is interested- there is lots of stuff on the HCPC website about hearings, including a lot of the evidence in this case

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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by Spatch » Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:46 pm

I'm loath to discuss this in a public forum when the topic is of media interest. But as Will says, its hard to see how you can come back from that. What were your reactions Spatch?
I agree it's not nice to talk about a particular person's behaviour or future, but I am not trying to do any moralising or finger wagging, but it has raised some broader issues in my mind, which I think are applicable to everyone.

It's made me think about how the cultural mores of the organisation could influence people that would otherwise be regarded as to "know better", and that CPs are no different. Like the CPs in Guantanamo, or the doctors involved in dodgy medical experiments I can see how an organisation already known to be loose with some of it's governance may play a role in blurring of boundaries. It may be that this could have happened if the person was working in an ordinary CAMHS/CMHT, but the criticisms about lack of accountability and oversight, and KC's flexibilty around boundaries the context does seem to match. Or maybe I am doing some post hoc rationalising?

I don't think anyone could defend some of the allegations regarding distributing substances to service users or letting patients stay at one's home, but I do know that plenty of healthcare professionals have had problems with substance misuse and have come through it. There are even services that are set up to help practitioners like the Practitioner Health Programme (http://php.nhs.uk/), which I think are incredibly helpful and sets up the message that people can come back from substance problems -plus all that stuff about change firegal talks about.

However, I do think that it's going to be hard to come back from this in light of the media and public outrage around this, the evident wrongness of it all and it does reflect badly on the profession so I generally feel quite sad about this.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Jan 15, 2016 12:29 am

I think that if substance abuse were someone's only problem, and it was impacting on their work, the compassionate and consistent thing to do would be to let them continue to practise as a CP after (and if) they had resolved those problems through treatment of their own. Psychologists aren't immune to mental health difficulties and the development of adverse coping mechanisms any more than an oncologist is immune to cancer, and the important thing is how they cope with these problems.

But in this case it was more than just substance abuse, it was giving class A drugs to vulnerable children. First and foremost there is a duty of care to clients and even if a practitioner is remorseful, I struggle to see how it would be safe to offer a second chance in that situation.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by workingmama » Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:09 am

I think, if this were me, that I would most badly hope that the professional body held both judgement and mercy in mind when making the call about my future fitness to practice. I wrote a big old piece on my justification for that statement, but then imagined journalist/hacks taking verbatim quotes from clinpsy to illustrate some lurid piece: 'Dr Winter - even her own colleagues condemn...', and deleted it. :roll:
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by BlueCat » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:24 am

I really feel for the clinical psychologist in all of this - she's done some stupid things, by the sound of it as a result of odd boundaries within her workplace, and the influence of drugs and alcohol. However, these were very very stupid things she did. If there was only one of the incidents of misconduct, she'd probably stand a chance, but all of those together, on separate occasions - I'm not sure there's any coming back from it. If she is allowed to continue to practice, she'll probably be a lot wiser and less likely to blur her boundaries in future, but looking at the things that psychologists have been struck off for by the HCPC so far, I doubt she will get the chance.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by miriam » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:27 am

Indeed. I think I'm with Spatch here, that it's a very sad situation and the context probably contributed - and the more we hear about Kids Company the less boundaries it appears to have had - and that her own substance use is treatable and therefore something that could just impact upon fitness to practise on a temporary basis, but that it is hard to see how some of the issues like offering class A drugs to a child client or having them stay at her house, could be considered a temporary lapse or purely contextual even within Kids Company.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by BlueCat » Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:40 pm

Well, she wasn't struck off, must be a huge relief for her. A one year practice ban, though, which will sting I'm sure.
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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by Geishawife » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:05 pm

Agreed, but I'm really interested to know what she'll do during this time to rehabilitate herself professionally. Obviously she now has a chance to get herself sorted on a more personal level (such as addressing the substance use) but, given that her actions went above and beyond the personal (if that makes sense!), I am genuinely curious as to what she can do professionally so that this time next year she can demonstrate she's fit to practise again. I'm not saying it can't be done, but what are the resources available to her to do it and re-establish some professional credibility?

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Re: Helen Winter and Kids Company

Post by daydreambeliever » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:23 pm

Personally I feel dreadfully sorry for everyone in that whole situation, and in Helen's place I don't think I could tolerate going through a public hearing and having the media and my peers go over it in detail publicly, when I regretted what I'd done so much. I didn't walk in her shoes when she made her mistakes, so i don't feel it's fair for me to judge her. Like everyone else has said, it's pretty obvious where the breaches of conduct were though and why it would be concerning.

My sense is that as a profession that accepts we're all human and make mistakes and learn from them, that learning can occur, that we are greatly influenced by our context, that these insights should provide some ideas about suitable rehabilitation, given the HCPC had the mercy on the woman not to strike her off - I find it reassuring that genuine remorse, publicly admitting to your mistakes and having the commitment to your profession to put yourself through the hell of a public trial by media would lead to a second chance. That kind of hell will have had a lasting impact on her that she probably won't ever lose whatever happens now, and will also likely have impacted on her family and friends too as her statements in the article indicate.

I'd be thinking however that her employment chances are presumably compromised by the need to explain the background on application forms, and that her name will be known by many recruiting managers now, as will the tarnished reputation of Kids Company. Should she be able to secure employment next year, I'd be thinking that after a period of therapy it may help her to seek mentoring by a more senior colleague to help her get back onto a professional page again and reflect on how her practice needs to change to be safe. For safety I'd also have thought extra supervision, observations, etc might be necessary for a while to show evidence of change to safer practice. Again, would not fancy extra scrutiny myself, and if she was willing to subject her practice to that I would see it as a sign of commitment and taking responsibility for change.

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