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Inspectors have criticised “serious and widespread failures” at a Southport children’s home run by an autism charity – the organisation’s second damning report in the same week.
When Ofsted inspectors visited the home in May, they found staff had failed to establish boundaries for the children living there, resulting in one boy playing computer games until the early morning and then sleeping through most of the day.
The same boy had not been to school for “a considerable period”, according to a report published on yesterday (July 1), and efforts to get him back into education had been “ineffective”.
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Autism initiatives said “immediate action” had been taken to address the problems found by the inspectors.
Among the other failures highlighted by the inspectors was a lack of routine and boundaries, which meant some children chose not to clean their bedrooms or “regularly undertake personal care tasks”, with little intervention from staff to challenge this.
The inspectors added: “Staff do not plan evening meals, and as a result, some children are choosing to frequently eat unhealthy options such as highly processed foods.”
The home’s manager was directly criticised for failing to identify risks to children’s safety, with inspectors highlighting two children who spent “considerable amounts of unsupervised time” on the internet with no checks as to what they were looking at.
The inspectors’ report, which rated the home “inadequate”, added: “One child is known to be speaking to people online, but staff have not undertaken any checks to ascertain the identity of these people.”
Another child had changed the password on their phone, preventing staff from checking his online activity.
Further criticisms of the home’s manager included failing to take action when an allegation was made about a member of staff. The report does not specify what the allegation was.
The manager is also criticised for failing to ensure continuity of staff and lacking knowledge about the progress the children were making.
The report said: “For example, she does not know why a child has been turned down for a college place and has not taken steps to ascertain whether the child’s education, health and care plan (EHCP) could be reviewed.
“Furthermore, she has not recognised the impact that the lack of routines and boundaries is having on the progress children are making.”
The home is one of two in Southport run by Autism Initiatives and cares for up to seven disabled children.
The charity’s other children’s home was also rated “inadequate” in a recent Ofsted inspection which criticised restrictions on children’s freedom to move around their own home. Autism Initiatives said it had taken swift action to address Ofsted’s concerns during the inspection.
Until this year, both homes had been consistently rated “good”, including at their most recent inspections in 2019.
A spokesperson for Autism Initiatives said: “The year of the pandemic has been a difficult time for all the teenagers living in the home, but our support has enabled all young people to remain safe and well.
”The Ofsted inspection highlighted areas for improvement and immediate action has been taken to ensure that all requirements are completed.
”This children’s home has a long track record of being judged good. Our priority is always the well being of the young people we support and their families.”
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