Dumfries children home’s poor report blamed on breakdown between staff and young people

A breakdown in relationships between staff and young people at a Dumfries children’s home during the pandemic has been blamed on a poor report by inspectors.

Lillian Cringles, the social work chief for Dumfries and Galloway, made the assertion after criticisms levelled towards Hardthorn Road Children’s House.

She insisted that steps have been taken to improve the running of the facility and is “confident” inspectors will be pleased with progress made.

Following a visit by the Care Inspectorate in February last year, inspectors downgraded the facility, marking three key areas as two out of six (weak) and the other two categories as four out of six (good).

The home has been providing care for a maximum of five children and young people, aged between eight and 18, since 2013.

At the social work committee, Councillor John Campbell asked for an update after claiming: “The Hardthorn Road Children’s House was in the news and looking at this report the number of twos is quite disappointing.”

Chief social work officer at Dumfries and Galloway Council, Lillian Cringles.
Chief social work officer at Dumfries and Galloway Council, Lillian Cringles.

The social work chief responded: “We were disappointed when we received this feedback.

“These inspections took place during the height of the pandemic.

“Particularly for our residential staff, things were extremely difficult – managing young people in the unit with no school or activity that they would normally be part of.

“A lot of the times the unit was really stable with a lot of positive feedback but at points they really struggled with the lockdown.

“With family groups, there has been breakdowns in relationships with parents and children. It’s the same for the unit – breakdowns with staff and young people.

“We’re working hard with the leadership team. I would be confident when we’re re-inspected we’ll be back to the grades we had.”

In its first inspection in June 2014 – six months after the Dumfries care home opened – it received “good” scores in all areas.

However, the report showed a decline. The inspector spoke to staff and had three out of the four teenage residents fill in a questionnaire.

While the young people commented that they liked staff, one youth said they felt unsafe “every time that (another young person) decided to vandalise the place and abuse staff and police”.

It was reported that one teenager never complied with Covid rules and would abscond from the home.

Report findings: how well do we support children and young people’s wellbeing – 2 (weak); how good is our leadership – 2; how good is our staff – 4 (good); how good is our setting – 4; how well is our care and support planned – 2.

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