Children’s services publication statement 19 February 2020
Wednesday, 19 February, 2020
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 16 and 17 October 2019, found that children were safe within the centre and were encouraged to plan and take part in activities of interest to them. The centre was warm and comfortable; however, maintenance of the house required improvement. Children spoke positively about the centre and they identified staff members they felt supported by. Staff in the centre understood and implemented child protection policies and procedures in line with Children First 2017. While safety plans were in place to safeguard children at risk, improvements, improvement was required to ensure that they were regularly reviewed and updated.
The centre had arrangements in place to allow for communication and cooperation within and between services. However, not all children received the same level of coordinated and integrated care as one child did not have an up to date care plan at a crucial time in preparing for their transition from the centre. Another child did not have an allocated social worker, and this had a negative impact on the child’s contact with their family.
There was an experienced staff team at the centre who were committed to the children they cared for. However, there was an insufficient number of full-time staff within the centre. 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 management and governance arrangements were in place in the centre, they did not ensure that a consistently good quality service was being provided. Managerial systems relating to risk management, medication management, fire safety and centre registers needed to improve, and some restrictive practices were not adequately assessed to ensure they were necessary and effective.
In an unannounced inspection of a centre in the West region on 7 and 8 November 2019, inspectors found that children were well cared for and the centre was homely, clean and comfortable. Children had access to a variety of activities centred on their hobbies of choice. The children had access to services when required to ensure their needs were well met.
Children who met with inspectors knew their rights and were familiar with the complaints policy. Complaints were managed effectively. Children also reviewed and wrote into their daily logs on occasions.
The management and governance arrangements in the centre ensured that the care and support delivered to children was child-centred, safe and effective. 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. New staff members had been recruited to address staff shortages and were phased in to the centre to minimise disruption to the children’s lives. However, some restrictive practices were not adequately assessed to ensure they were necessary and effective, and the managerial oversight of fire safety required improvement.
The staff team were supportive of children. They were skilled and sensitive in their responses to children. Children were supported to maintain contact with their family, and there was good communication between staff and the relevant people in the children’s lives. All of the children had an allocated social worker who had visited them regularly. Each child had an up-to-date care plan and were involved in making decisions about their lives.