Midlothian children’s homes: Serious incidents of harm reported

Midlothian Council HQ in Dalkeith.
Midlothian Council HQ in Dalkeith.

Serious incidents of harm and inability to protect vulnerable young people have been highlighted in a report on a council-run residential service.

Midlothian Council provides residential care for young people at two houses in Dalkeith and Gorebridge which were inspected in June this year.

However, a report released this week by the Care Inspectorate raised concerns about the support given to those in its care, and warned that the key strengths of the service were “just outweighing the weaknesses”.

Grading the care and support provided in the homes as just ‘adequate’, inspectors described the understanding of staff when it came to ‘continuing care’ as “mixed and confused”.

And they said there was an over-emphasis on timetables, education and independence rather than reflection on the importance of relationships.

Midlothian Council said they were working to implement the actions recommended by inspectors following the report.

The inspectors’ report said: “There was genuine confusion and distress for individual young people and the service needs to reflect on this and focus on the key principle of continuing care and step away from introducing an unnecessary formal contractual relations between young people and the people who care for them.”

They said that there was evidence of negative relationships between some of the young people in their care and a lack of protection for those who were vulnerable because of it or understanding of the vulnerabilities.

Their findings said: “At times, negative experiences and outcomes associated with risk-taking behaviour and more serious incidents of harm have overshadowed the positive experiences of care and support.

“We found that for those who moved on from the service the outcomes were less positive.”

Despite their concerns, the inspectors said most of the feedback from young people was positive and there was evidence of genuine warmth and respect between staff and young people.

The quality of staffing was given a grade of ‘good’.

A Midlothian Council spokeswoman for Children’s Services said: “We welcome the findings of the Care Inspectorate inspection of our residential care homes.

“We are pleased staffing was rated as good and inspectors witnessed the genuine warmth and respect between staff and young people.

“Inspectors also found good evidence of young people being involved in both day-to-day and bigger decision about their lives and care.

“We are already working to implement the Care Inspectorate’s recommendations around issues such as risk management and making sure our young people continue to feel supported when moving on from residential care.”