Care centre report disgraceful – MSP

inspectors have criticised the “weak” management at a state-run centre for disadvantaged youngsters in Newtongrange.

Unannounced visits by the Care Inspectorate took place at Midfield Young People’s Centre on June 26 and July 3.

The centre provides care for youngsters aged between 10 and 18 years who cannot safely stay with their own family.

The visits are described by the Inspectorate as having formed a “high intensity inspection”.

Evidence was found that staff were unclear about the plans and vision for the service and that this negatively affected their motivation and practice. Inspectors deemed that management changes were responsible for a number of “inconsistencies” in relation to staff supervision.

A quality indicator for staffing was ‘good’ (4), the quality of both care and the environment was deemed to be ‘adequate’ (3), while management and leadership was highlighted as ‘weak’ (2).

Completed on August 17, a follow-through report states: “There were risk assessments in place for all of the young people. Some of these were incomplete or did not identify how to manage the risks. As a result of this we saw that some young people’s behaviour was not consistently managed by different staff.

“We also found inconsistencies in recording in other systems such as the bullying folder and absconder tracking.

“Incident reports were sometimes duplicated and as a result of this they did not reflect a true picture of the incidents which had happened in the home.”

Gathering evidence during the visits to Midlfield, inspectors observed how staff worked with the young people, as well as speaking with staff and the youngsters themselves. They also scrutinised policies, procedures, evaluation sheets and other documents.

Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie (SNP) said: “This disgraceful report lies entirely within the responsibility of Labour and they must accept full blame. They could not have been unaware of the situation but clearly chose to ignore it.”

According to Don Ledingham, Director of Education and Children’s Services at Midlothian Council, the local authority is already addressing the shortcomings of the report.

He said: “We have already adopted an Action Plan to improve on the areas in which we need to work on.

“Within our Action Plan we have reviewed our recording systems and improved on our formal supervision for new staff.

“We are in the process of building two new care homes which will give us three four-bedded units of a very high standard across Midlothian. These will ready early in the new year.

“Overall, there was some good things to come out of the report, including our quality of staffing and most importantly, our quality of care and support.

“But we must not be complacent and will continue to strive towards providing the best level of care and support available for our young people.

“And, of course, early in 2013 we will be moving to two new, purpose-built buildings in Dalkeith and Penicuik.”