Children’s services publication statement 18 October 2018
Thursday, 18 October, 2018
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published five 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 South region, on 16 and 17 July 2018 found that children were well cared for, had a say in plans made about their lives and were well supported by the staff team and other professionals. Inspectors found that the centre worked collaboratively with other professionals to ensure children with complex needs had their needs met. Children said they felt safe in the centre but some children were dissatisfied that there was no plan or onward placement identified for them.
The centre was well managed on a day-to-day basis and staffing levels were appropriate for the delivery of the service. However, inspectors found that opportunities to learn from past events were not always optimised and systems in place to promote continuous improvements in service delivery required development and improvement. There were some gaps in staff training and the provision of supervision to the staff team.
The centre had re-located to temporary premises for six months, while building works were being completed, and inspectors found that this move was well managed.
HIQA carried out an unannounced inspection of a centre in the South region, on 1 and 2 August 2018. This centre concentrated on supporting young people to develop and strengthen their skills for leaving care and preparing them for young adulthood. The young people who met with inspectors spoke positively about the staff who mentored them as part of the centre’s programme, and said that they were confident to talk with staff if they needed advice or were worried.
Inspectors found that although young people’s movement was not restricted in any way, the locking system in the centre meant that they had to seek the assistance of staff to exit the premises. Inspectors were assured by the centre manager that alternatives were being examined.
There were some aspects of this centre which needed to improve and these included the need to provide supervision to staff in line with Tusla policy, and to develop the systems in place to continuously improve practice.
In an unannounced inspection of a centre in the Dublin North East service area, on 21 and 22 August 2018, inspectors found that the children in the centre received good quality care by a committed and experienced staff team. Children in the centre did not wish to talk with inspectors while they were in the centre. However, it was evident to inspectors from their observations of interactions between children and staff, that this was a respectful and nurturing environment for the children. There was evidence that children were made aware of their rights, had access to independent advocacy services and that their views were sought on a range of topics. Importantly, risks to children were well managed.
There were improvements required in this centre in relation to the identification of restrictive practices, adherence to all aspects of Children First (2017) and the provision of up-to-date care plans by placing social work departments.
An unannounced inspection of a centre in the South region on 22 and 23 August 2018 found that children were provided with good quality care from an experienced and attentive staff team. The children who were in the centre at the time of the inspection declined to talk directly with inspectors, but it was evident in their interactions with staff members that they were treated with respect and dignity. There were times when children did not want to engage with staff members or the programme developed for them, but inspectors observed that staff members managed these events well and in a non-judgmental way.
Inspectors found that child protection concerns were reported and managed appropriately and social workers who talked with inspectors were satisfied that centre practices were good at minimising risk to children when they were absent from the centre.
The centre worked hard at maintaining children in educational placements and supported them to achieve positive outcomes in this regard. There were safe practices in place for the management of the administration of medication.
At the time of the inspection the centre manager was on leave and inspectors found that there were inadequate management arrangements in place. This meant that some records and documents were not accessible to inspectors and others who may require them. This was not good practice.
Fires safety training was required for some staff and there was no analysis of the training required by centre staff to effectively deliver the service in line with the needs of the children placed there.
On 7 and 8 June 2018, inspectors carried out an unannounced inspection of a centre in the South region. The line management of this centre differed from almost all of the centres delivered by Tusla as it was not part of Tusla’s national management structure. This meant that the lines of reporting were slightly different. The centre provided a wide range of services including assessment, consultation, respite and outreach services through a multi-disciplinary team to a significant number of children.
Children who met with inspectors said they liked attending the centre and could confide in staff members if something was on their mind. Overall, children were safe and well cared for and the staff team ensured that their cultural and diverse needs were met.
The centre had well-established management systems in place. However, the arrangements in place to support a member of staff who was the interim manager while the centre and deputy manager were on leave was not adequate. Other areas of improvement required in this centre included the need for enhanced monitoring by managers through formal reporting systems, including notifications about significant events. In addition, inspectors found that there was a drift in addressing issues related to the premises since the last inspection and positive service developments throughout Tusla’s wider range of residential services were not apparent in this centre.