A Three Towns carer has been struck off after her employer uncovered an £8,500 gardening contract scam.

Brogan McLaughlan was accused of exploiting a vulnerable man in her care who needed work done in his garden – and then duping a social worker into awarding the work to someone she knew.

McLaughlan was given the ban following an investigation by watchdog body the Scottish Social Services Council. (SSSC)

They accused the care worker of abusing her position of test and serious, deliberate and pre planned dishonesty.

At the time McLaughlan was employed by the Symington-based care charity Hansel Alliance as a support co-ordinator, providing help to vulnerable adults in their homes in Stevenston.

The SSSC investigation found that in May 2021 McLaughlan had submitted a falsified handwritten quote for a Stevenston resident's garden, knowing he needed 'significant' support with the management of his finances.

She also failed to declare a potential conflict of interest and that her personal number was a point of contact on the document.

A social worker then approved the work as the gardener named in the estimate appeared to have provided the lowest quote.

The person or firm awarded the contract is not named in the report, nor is their relationship to McLaughlan.

The vulnerable man is not named either, but referred to as AA.

In their judgement published this week, the SSSC said of McLaughlan:"Social service workers must be truthful, open, honest and trustworthy.

"In your role of co-ordinator you had responsibility for supporting AA with the management of his finances.

"You abused this power by failing to follow correct procedures.

"Social service workers must not abuse, neglect or harm people who use services."

The SSSC also said McLaughlan's conduct merited more than a warning or suspension.

The ban took effect on May 9.

The watchdog added: "By your actions of falsifying a quote and failing to follow correct procedure, this resulted in financial harm to AA, as he paid more for the work to be carried than he would have if the correct procedures were followed and legitimate quotes obtained.

"Your behaviour relates to serious dishonesty which would have resulted in financial loss to a vulnerable service user.

"Your values and attitude are fundamentally incompatible with working in social services.

"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."

The SSSC also acknowledged in their judgement that McLaughlan had a good previous history and had fully co-operated with their investigation.

A Hansel spokesperson said:"Hansel welcome the decision by the SSSC to remove Ms McLaughlan from the register of social care workers.

"This decision followed our partnership working with local adult protection authorities and reporting our findings from an internal investigation to SSSC in December 2021 into her actions around awarding gardening works.

"We can confirm that Ms McLaughlan has not been employed by Hansel since October 2021.

"Hansel is a charity that strives at all times to promote and ensure the safety, rights, care and wellbeing of the people we support and our team members.

"We do this through engagement with our community and the application of robust policies and procedures and consulting with the relevant authorities."