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					                       Overview and Scrutiny Committee

                         Family and Children’s Services

                                  15 October 2009

                  Report of the Executive Director of People

                 Summary Report from Members Rota Visits to
                   Children’s Homes March 2009 – May 2009

1.     Subject and Purpose of Report

       To provide an overview of visits made to children’s homes in the
       specified period.

2.     Implications

       Policy:                                None.

       Financial and Value for Money: None.

       Personnel:                             None.

       Property:                              The children’s homes are regularly
                                              inspected by Ofsted and the
                                              condition of the buildings is an
                                              important element of the National
                                              Minimum Standard.

       Crime and Disorder:                    Children in residential care are
                                              disproportionately represented in
                                              crime and disorder statistics.

       Equalities:                           The needs and aspirations of Looked
                                             After Children are a significant
                                             element in the social inclusion
                                             agenda.

       Customer Considerations:               One of the purposes of these visits is
                                              to hear the views of the young
                                              people who are resident in the units.

3.     Risk Assessment

       Rota visits form an important part of the Council’s governance role in
       relation to residential services to children. They potentially highlight
       areas of risk in particular in relation to meeting National Minimum
       Standards requirements. This may include issues relating to the
       standard of care offered and ultimately reflect on the Council’s
       performance in relation to looked after children. This report identifies


Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   1
       “low” levels of risk in terms of issues relating to the maintenance of the
       buildings. These are addressed within an action plan but failure to
       meet targets would raise the risk level to “moderate”.

4.     Consultations

       The content of this report has been considered by the Director of
       Family Services and the Executive Member of People.

       The individual reports following each visit have been circulated to the
       managers responsible for the home in order to provide the opportunity
       for discussion and for any necessary action to be taken.

5.     Recommendations

       Members are requested to note the content of this report.

6.     Background

       Visits to children’s homes by elected members and Netherton Park
       Governors are made in accordance with the Children’s Home
       Regulations 2001. The individual reports of visits are attached to this
       summary.

       Due to changes within the Council this year the rota visit arrangements
       have been revised. A new rota has now been prepared and training is
       being arranged. As a consequence of this process there were a
       reduced number of visits conducted during this reporting period

       Kingfisher Unit

       March 2009 - No Report Available

       April 2009:

       Councillor Milburn Douglas visited Kingfisher unit in April 2009 and
       found the general condition of the building as being good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       regular fire drills had also been carried out.

       Councillor Douglas met 2 young people who were pleasant and
       cheerful. He also met staff who were friendly, caring and helpful during
       his inspection of the unit, finding the care young people received as
       positive and friendly.

       Councillor Douglas recommended working with partners within the
       education and employment structure to acquire job placements for
       these young people. He also identified an improvement of the garden
       area since his previous visit, with work done by both staff and the
       young people.


Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   2
       May 2009:

       Councillor Susan Davey visited Kingfisher unit in May 2009 and found
       the general condition of the building as ranging from good to very good,
       however the secure storage arrangements for medicines were not
       seen.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       regular fire drills had also been carried out.

       Councillor Davey’s visit was during the school holidays so most of the
       young people were unavailable to talk to.

       Councillor Davey found the staff friendly and polite. One member of
       staff was currently on a visit with a young person.

       Staff had explained to Councillor Davey about activities and rewards;
       encouragement to self-care; and it appeared that care was excellent,
       well organised and efficient.

       Kestrel

       March 2009 – No Report Available

       April 2009:

       Councillor Milburn Douglas also visited Kestrel unit in April 2009 and
       found the general condition of the building as being good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       regular fire drills had also been carried out.

       Councillor Douglas met with a group of young people and found them
       to be relaxed and in very good spirits. He found the staff to be helpful
       and very friendly who took time to explain in detail, their duties and
       responsibilities. Staff seemed to have a friendly and excellent
       relationship with the young people.

       Councillor Douglas also reported that he had an excellent discussion
       with staff concerning the excellent further education training the young
       people receive and the need to approach employers for work
       placements for these young people

       May 2009

       Councillor Susan Davey visited Kestrel unit in May 2009 and found the
       general condition of the building as ranging from good to very good,
       although there were a number of areas not seen including bedrooms,




Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   3
       kitchen, spare rooms that were not in use and the secure storage
       arrangements for medicines.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       regular fire drills had also been carried out.

       Councillor Davey’s visit was during the school holidays so the young
       people were unavailable to talk to.

       Councillor Davey found the staff friendly and polite.

       Councillor Davey found the care to be good as with Kingfisher, and
       was given a tour of the new garden plot which the young people have
       helped to create and maintain, and the barn/gym area which allows for
       all year activities.

       Alder and Willow, Kyloe House

       March:

       Councillor Mrs Marcia Bircham visited Alder Unit, Kyloe House in
       March 2009 and found the general condition of the building to be
       mostly very good. The private telephone arrangements for the young
       people and the outside of the building were described as being good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       regular fire drills had been carried out.

       This was Councillor Bircham’s first visit and didn’t know what to expect.
       She met one young person who was waiting to go to court and found
       them more communicative on their own.

       Councillor Bircham was given a conducted tour by the Duty Manager
       and was impressed with the unit, especially the facilities for out/indoor
       activities for the young people and the dedication of caring staff.

       Councillor Bircham had concerns over safety in the event of a fire but
       was reassured by the Duty Manager that everything was in place for a
       safe evacuation for everyone concerned.

       Councillor Mrs Marcia Bircham also visited the Willow Unit, Kyloe
       House in March 2009 and found the general condition of the building to
       be very good. The private telephone arrangements for the young
       people and the outside of the building were described as being good.
       This unit was also currently being refurbished

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       staff and young people had carried out regular fire drills. Full
       evacuation procedures had been carried out during a visit by the Fire
       Brigade in March.


Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   4
       Councillor Bircham found during her visit that staff and young people
       were interacting very well, although as a stranger the young people
       seemed to find it difficult to communicate with Councillor Bircham.

       Councillor Bircham was given a detailed explanation of duties carried
       out by friendly and enthusiastic staff who were helping to develop a
       more ‘rounded’ young person with academic and life skills before they
       leave the unit.

       April:

       Councillor Thorne visited both Kyloe House Units, Alder and Willow in
       April 2009. The general condition of all areas of both the buildings were
       found to be very good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       staff and young people had carried out regular fire drills.

       Councillor Thorne observed a group of children finishing education and
       they appeared happy and well disciplined.

       Councillor Thorne spent some of his time meeting teaching staff and
       talked to the chef about the menu for the evening meal.

       He described the quality of care of the young people as excellent,
       finding the planning of activity and education lessons as well organised
       and efficient, creating a warm and welcoming environment.

       Councillor Thorne found there were only very minor repairs to be done
       otherwise the units are in excellent condition and was extremely
       impressed with Educational Unit.

       Councillor Dr Anita Romer also visited Kyloe House, Alder unit in April
       2009 and found that the general condition of all of the building to be
       very good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out, and
       staff and young people had carried out regular fire drills.

       During lunch time, Councillor Romer found that the young people she
       met were very friendly and had various shared interests.

       Councillor Romer’s visit coincided with a busy period at the unit but
       was still able to comprehensively scrutinise the units administrative
       files. Councillor Romer found they were all up to date. The staff were
       very child centred and alert at all times.

       Councillor Romer found the care of Young People to be excellent . The
       store room was full of activities for the young people.


Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   5
       Councillor Romer recommended the unit applies for funding for
       vegetable growing.

       Councillor Dr Anita Romer also visited Kyloe House, Willow unit in April
       2009 and found that the general condition of all of the building to be
       very good.

       Health and Safety weekly fire alarm checks had been carried out only 4
       days before the visit, and staff and young people had also recently
       carried out regular fire drills.

       One young person was happy to show Councillor Romer their living
       quarters, and one member of staff took her on a guided tour. Councillor
       Romer identified that the young people had not been as communicative
       in her previous visit but found once they trusted her, they did
       communicate in a limited way.

       Staff from both Alder and Willow were very friendly and cooperative.
       Councillor Romer described the care for the Young People as
       ‘absolutely excellent’ and was most impressed.

       Councillor Romer recommended the unit applies for funding for
       vegetable growing as per Alder.

       May 2009 – No Report Available

       Thornbrae

       No Reports Available

7.     Background Papers

       There are no background documents for this report within the meaning
       of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985.

8.     Contact Officer(s)
       This report has been prepared for the Executive Director of People by
       Neville Carr.

       For further information please contact Neville Carr on extension 3647.




Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Family and Children’s Services – 15 October 2009   6

				
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