Children’s services publication statement 19 November 2018
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two inspection reports on children’s residential centres.
HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 69 of the Child Care Act 1991, as amended by Section 26 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011, to inspect children’s residential care services provided by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). HIQA monitors Tusla’s performance against the National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres and reports on its findings to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
An unannounced inspection of a centre in the Dublin North East region, on 23 and 24 October 2018, found that the children living there were provided with good quality care, their rights were promoted and they had opportunities to have their voice heard. Children were encouraged to take part in decisions about their lives and they were encouraged to pursue and develop their talents and interests. Children spoke positively about the centre and they identified staff members they felt supported by. Each child was attending an educational placement and they had an individual educational plan to support them to reach their full potential. Children's complaints were dealt with; however, it was not always clear in the records if complaints had been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant.
Each child had a statutory care plan which was up to date and the goals set out in these plans were reviewed regularly. There was good communication between centre staff, other professionals and children's families. Access for children with their families was strongly supported and facilitated by the staff team.
Children were safe living at the centre and each of them was allocated to a named social worker. Appropriate measures were in place to safeguard and protect children and all child protection concerns reported in the 12 months prior to the inspection were adequately resolved. However, centre records related to these concerns needed to improve.
While the centre had undergone recent refurbishment and was decorated and furnished to a high standard, there were ongoing maintenance issues in the house.
Although there was an experienced staff team at the centre, there was an insufficient number of full-time staff. Gaps in staffing were filled by agency staff and efforts were made to ensure that the same agency staff were in place to provide consistency of care. While the management of the centre was good, managerial systems such as risk management, supervision and staff training needed to improve.
In an unannounced inspection of a centre in the Dublin North East region, on 24 and 25 October 2018, inspectors found that children were well cared for and children said that they liked living there. Children who met with inspectors knew their rights and had developed positive relationships with the staff team. Children had access to a variety of activities centred around their hobbies of choice. All of the children had an educational or training placement but not all had commenced in these placements at the time of the inspection. The children had access to health services when required and their emotional needs were well met.
All of the children had an allocated social worker who visited them regularly and they had good contact with their family and friends. The staff team were supportive of children with complex needs and complaints were well managed. Children told inspectors that they felt safe living in the centre and although inspectors did not find any child who was unsafe, systems of reporting child protection concerns were not always made in line with Children First, National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2017.
The service was managed by an experienced management team and the staff team were well supported in their roles, despite the lack of updated national policies. Some management systems required improvement and some restrictive practices were not adequately assessed to ensure they were necessary and effective.
There was a committed and experienced staff team in the centre but the centre was under-resourced. As a result, there was a reliance on agency staff work in the centre on a regular basis. Staff supervision in the centre was good but not all staff were up to date in mandatory training.