Sunday, 15 December 2019

‘Inadequate’ rating for children’s care centre

A RESPITE care centre for disabled children in Henley has been ordered to improve by Ofsted.

The education watchdog says the Chiltern Centre, off Greys Road, suffers from “serious and/or widespread failures” which mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted.

Inspectors deemed it “inadequate” both generally and in three key areas — the overall experiences of children and young people, helping and protecting them and the effectiveness of leaders and managers.

The centre had been improving following a visit in July 2016 when it was judged to “require improvement”. It was said to have “improved effectiveness” at an inspection in January 2017 and was rated “good” four months later.

But in the latest visit in January, inspectors found “serious failings” in how the charity dealt with safeguarding concerns. Staff reported these to managers but they weren’t always passed on to the relevant individuals.

A report published this week says managers didn’t follow the home’s policies or “apply professional curiosity” to concerns that were raised and their records did not provide a clear trail of how they were investigated.

In some cases, concerns were passed on but not within the required timescales while matters of a “serious” nature were either referred to Ofsted’s chief inspector too late or not at all.

Staff were completing risk assessments, including those relating to fire, but they were “weak” or “inconsistent” in quality and didn’t consider all possible risks or their severity.

Inspectors said the home had improved its practices around the use of physical restraint but said staff should explore ways to help young people who do not speak to express their views on the subject.

They said managers didn’t have clear systems to identify areas of improvement.

They said the home was serving many more adults than children and this should be addressed but it had no clear plan to do so.

The report says that the staff are caring and provide young people with individualised, personalised care and treat them with respect and dignity.

It says they follow detailed, informative health plans for their charges’ dietary, medical, physical and personal care needs.

It says young people enjoy a varied programme of activities and staff understand each of their communication needs as well as monitoring how happy they are.

However, it was not clear when the home reviewed young people’s plans and they were not being routinely consulted about improvements to the home.

Paul Barrett, the centre’s chairman of trustees,  said its new manager Gareth Groves, who has replaced Keith Manning, was making
 improvements in line with Ofsted’s recommendations.

He said: “Clearly this is a disappointing report. It highlights a number of procedural issues that need addressing but there is no suggestion that any of our users have been subjected to harm at any time.

“We are committed to providing children and young people around the area with first-class care and their families with a welcoming respite service.

“It is one that we’ve been proud to provide for many years and which we intend to carry forward.

“We accept that mistakes have occurred in the recent past but we are now putting everything in place to ensure that these procedural processes are improved.

“We look forward to showing the Ofsted inspectors how we have addressed the problems when they next visit.”

The centre, which was launched in 2003, provides respite care for familes of children and young adults with severe physical and learning difficulties.

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