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11 March 2016, 14:24
More than 50,000 people have shared an image of a carer in Leicester after it went viral on Facebook.
The Mencap support worker has been suspended after the photograph emerged apparently showing shopping bags piled on her client's wheelchair, close to his face.
The learning disability charity said it was "appalled'' by the image, which shows a female carer smoking and talking on the phone next to an elderly man, who has several bags on a lap tray on his wheelchair.
The image was posted to the charity's Facebook page by Charlotte Shaw, who was concerned after seeing the image shared online.
"One of your staff in the Leicestershire area smoking whilst on the phone in Leicester shoving all her shopping bags on top of him with no care in the world'', she wrote in a post accompanying the photo.
"I don't think she should work with vulnerable people'', she added.
Steve Baker, regional director of services at Mencap, confirmed the charity had suspended the worker.
"We are appalled by what is happening in the picture. After seeing it we immediately took action, and have suspended the support worker in question and reported the issue to the relevant local authority safeguarding team.
"We take the wellbeing of the people we support extremely seriously, and we expect and train our staff to deliver high quality care and support services. What we see here would fall well below that standard.''
He added: "Our priority now, as always, is ensuring that we offer the highest quality of care to our beneficiaries so they live the lives they choose.''
The image, which has been shared over 14,000 times, was branded "vile'' and "disgusting'' by Facebook users.
One wrote: "As a carer I find this disgusting and heartbreaking, too many vulnerable people are being neglected and it's not acceptable.
"I treat people the way I would like to be treated. People put their trust into us!''
Mencap is one of the UK's leading learning disability charities, campaigning on key issues and providing support.