"Practice at the home is unacceptable," says Devon County Council following an investigation by the Echo. An Ofsted report, yet to be published, is expected to describe services at one of its children's facilities as inadequate.
Steps have already been taken to address Ofsted's concerns within the home at Rifford Road, Exeter, and ‘moving on’ plans for the three young residents are being worked on.
New management has been brought in from another of the Council's children's homes, rated 'good' by Ofsted.
Prior to the inspection, Barnardos had been commissioned to conduct a thorough review of all three of the Council's children's homes, which will contribute to the Council's own root and branch review of its children's residential care homes across the county.
Ofsted have four main areas of concern, including:
The compatibility and mix of the home's residents and the level of risk assessment conducted.
The sometimes inappropriate use of physical restraint practices used to address residents' behaviour, as well as the recording of such incidents.
The protection of residents during the use of restraint, and lack of reporting to the local authority.
The review of systems to ensure that quality of care is properly monitored, and absence of designated Shift Leaders.
However, Inspectors say that young people have a good relationship with some staff, and that the physical environment of the home is spacious and of a high standard.
They acknowledge that staff have a good recognition of the vulnerabilities and diverse needs of the young people, and that they respond quickly to any bullying or incidents that occur between residents.
Councillor Will Mumford, the Council's Cabinet member with responsibility for children's social care says it’s not good enough:
"Overall the findings are unacceptable, and we are already conducting a thorough review of the home to understand how the home, which was assessed as 'good' by Ofsted just five months ago, could slip to become 'inadequate' in such little time.
"Risk assessments for each of the three residents, as individuals and as a group, have been conducted, and I am confident that they are safe and being well cared for.
"New management is in place, and we are assessing the competences of the staff team and talking to them about the concerns raised.
"The home is for respite and emergency placements only, and yet residents had been staying for weeks at a time, when other more appropriate placements should have been found.
"Moving on plans for the current residents are in hand, but there will be no new admissions until systems and processes are in place, and until I am satisfied that lessons have been learned.
"The reviews that we are conducting here, will carry across all three of our children's residential homes in Exeter and Tiverton, and we will be using the best practice from our 'outstanding' Ofsted-rated home to bring them all up to standard.
"I am naturally disappointed with the results. This underlines the importance of the improvements that we are making in our fostering service to increase our fostering capacity, which will reduce our reliance on this type of residential care service in future and which provides far better outcomes for the young people involved."
UPDATE TO FOLLOW