Derby City Council

Council Children’s Homes – no longer “good” now in a “dire state”!

In 2017 the Pledge from the Labour Administration was that all Council run Children’s Homes would be OFSTED rated at “Good”, or “Outstanding”.

This pledge failed at the time, as Care Home C (SC488596) was judged as “Requires Improvement to be Good”. By July 2019 this had achieved the Good rating. Since then it has been rated as “Decline in effectiveness”, and 2 others have taken a similar path, or worse, and become “Inadequate”.

In August 2018 a proposal was presented to Cabinet to re-shape the Children’s Care home provision, and reduce the number of available beds. Senior Officers’ proposal to reduce beds in Council Children’s Homes – does not bear Scrutiny!

The recent OFSTED reports don’t make good reading as 3 Homes take a steep decline in effectiveness.

These Homes are for children with complex and challenging behaviour. Whilst difficult to manage, it does mean that the staff and management must be of high quality and the Home must be capable of assuring the health, wellbeing, and safety of the children and the staff.

Key extracts from the reports are in italics with my emphases

HOME A (SC036243)

At the 8 Jan 2019 inspection it was rated GOOD, by 29 October 2019 it had deteriorated to INADEQUATE

There are serious and/or widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and/or the care and experiences of children and young people are poor and they are not making progress.

Risks are not clearly identified, understood or managed. One child’s risk assessment had not been updated for ten months. It did not reflect the frequency of self-harm incidents.

No risk assessment was provided for a child who had recently been arrested by the police for a potentially serious offence. Managers are not able to evidence how they support children to become increasingly safe.

Managers were unable to provide accurate details of missing and absent incidents for each child. There is no sense of how staff and managers work to reduce these incidents.

Allegations against staff have not been robustly dealt with. One member of staff was moved to work in another children’s home following an allegation being made. The manager was not able to provide a risk assessment to reflect how this decision was made. No records were produced to support the investigation, outcome or decision to
allow that member of staff to return to work in this home. This was also the case for another member of staff. They have since moved to work in another children’s home.

Staff recruitment procedures do not protect children. . A substantial gap in one member of staff’s employment history was not picked up by managers during the recruitment process. Managers have also failed to ensure that relevant qualification certificates were secured for the same staff member. This potentially places children at risk of being cared for by unsuitable adults.

He ( the Manager) is unable to provide evidence with regards to how children’s complex needs are known and met. There has been significant movement of staff to and from this home since the last inspection. The manager was not able to provide accurate information on the the staff employed in this home, or, or their skills, qualifications or experience.

As a result of this inspection, a Manager from a better performing home was moved into help improve the situation.

The report from an OFSTED review on 10 to 11 December 2019 improved the rating to  “Requires Improvement to be good”

Following the last inspection, new management arrangements have been put in place. An interim manager and an acting deputy manager have worked together to implement changes and make improvements. They have worked hard to address the shortfalls identified at the last inspection.

Managers have now ensured that Ofsted has been informed of incidents requiring police involvement and allegations made about staff. There was a recent serious incident which led to a child protection enquiry being instigated . Ofsted has not been notified of this incident.

The recently appointed Interim manager was then moved to Home B (SC036109) after 23 January 2020

HOME B (SC036109)

At the 2 July 2019 inspection the Home was rated as  “GOOD”

Inspection date: 23 January 2020 “Declined in Effectiveness”

Children’s experiences are not always positive. There are growing concerns about children’’s involvement in high-risk behaviours. Staff struggle to manage these risks due to inconsistent staffing, poor support mechanisms,  and a lack of leadership in the home.

Action taken by managers and staff in response to safeguarding concerns is inadequate. Allegations made by children are not well managed. Poor communication with children following allegations being made increases their anxiety and makes them feel unsafe. Risks have been assessed but, as a result of insufficient staffing and the reliance on agency staff,  these risks have not been managed.  Managers have not notified Ofsted about serious incidents at the home.

Management arrangements are ineffective. At the time of the inspection, the registered manager was absent. The deputy manager was working directly with the children, with little opportunity to provide leadership to more junior staff working at the home. The deputy manager and many of the staff do not have do not have an in-depth knowledge of the children’s care needs and there is an absence of support and leadership for staff.

Staff report that they feel undervalued and unsupported and describe the home as a chaotic environment.

Staff do not have clear direction, or the confidence to care for children with complex needs and challenging behaviour.

Education outcomes for children are poor. Most children are not are not attending school or engaging in in their their education. . Personal education plans, and education, health and health and care plans are out of date

The Manager from Home A (SC 36243) was moved to this Home to help improve matters…

31 January 2020 OFSTED Review

Improvements were noted in the leadership and management of the home, particularly in terms of there being a management presence and better oversight of staff deployment.

A review of the premises identified that the children’’s bedrooms were dirty and unsanitary.

However, a recent serious incident highlighted that some staff, particularly agency staff, do not have the appropriate training to manage the situations they encounter.

Senior managers have set out a plan to put improvements in place. However, Ofsted believes that children may be at risk of harm if there are further admissions to the home at a time when there are concerns about the ability to provide good quality care and manage risks in a safe environment.

 

HOME C (SC488596)

At the 16 July 2019 OFSTED rated the Home as “Good” 

by 12 November 2019 it had been rated as “Declined in effectiveness”

Children are not making progress, and none are in full–time education. This is due to time education ineffective placement matching and an inability to access suitable education provision. 

One child previously fully engaged in their their education, but she she is now refusing to attend.This is due, in part, to the distance to her school placement. There is a lack of of structured activity in place for children who are not attending education. 

Staff do not receive specific training to manage the complex needs of the children admitted to the home. In addition to this, not all staff have regular refresher mandatory training such as in physical intervention, the administration of medication and first aid. Due to gaps in training, potentially not all shifts will have sufficient skilled, suitably
qualified and experienced staff.

Risk assessments, care plans and behaviour support plans have not been updated in response to serious incidents and events. These plans do not fully reflect the current concerns and areas of risk. Staff do not have clear guidance about what actions they should take to reduce the risks posed to , or from children.

Management monitoring and oversight has declined This is, in part due to the acting manager covering shifts due to staffing issues. 

Serious short falls have been identified in the administration of medication and associated record keeping. The last medication audit was undertaken in July 2019. There is no clear audit of medication coming into the home and significant amounts of medication could not be accounted for. The shortfalls identified could have a serious impact on the children at the home.

The Manager of this Home has since moved to Home A (SC036243)

Comment

A number of sources close to these 3 Homes confirm that they are in serious decline with little apparent attention from Senior Management. The OFSTED reports bear this out.

The recent re-organisation was supposed to have improved conditions; the evidence suggests that they have got worse. Some of the Homes have now closed with the consequential impact on the children involved.

The movement of management seems to be chasing improved OFSTED ratings rather than providing continuity and consistency. To quote from a source:

“Instead of bringing in effective leaders, existing Managers are moved around to tick boxes, as are deputy managers.”

The source also comments:

“I fear the bad practice is being kept under wraps and this will continue”

The most telling comment from someone close to these places:

“The homes are in a dire state”

The Homes, for some of the most vulnerable children in the City! It’s a disgrace!

Categories: Derby City Council

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1 reply »

  1. Yes,well whats really important is the upcoming electric vehicle that has still not been chosen to run from the Cathedral Quarter to who knows where. Why would they invest in the present and future of the Citys children who are in dire need. They get to 18 and they are waved goodbye to

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