Westgarth did not meet basic standards

By Kelly Thornham

SERIOUS problems with the staffing and operation of Westgarth children’s home have been uncovered by inspectors.

A report, carried out by the Commission for Social Care Inspection in January, revealed the troubled home in Elland has “serious weaknesses”.

It says many minimum care standards have not been met by the home and that it has still not acted upon issues raised in its previous report carried out in July last year.

Calderdale Council, which runs the home, has set up its own investigation into its staffing situation, it reveals.

The report says written information regarding work with young people in placement is poor, there is poor evidence of any actual work with young people in the home and plans for their futures are not clear.

Supervision of staff has not been undertaken, the report says, and training and development opportunities have not been given to employees.

In the inspectors’ “planning for care” section, only one out of seven standards were met by Westgarth. Problems relate mostly to incomplete reports on residents, which were also lacking in detail.

The inspectors say: “It was disappointing to find that placement plans had not significantly improved since the previous inspection and many of the problems raised in the previous report had not been resolved.”

On the issue of providing individual support, the report said: “Young people spoken to about this gave more of an indication of living somewhere where staff were paid to look after them rather than being aware that they were given individual support with any specific issues.”

Regarding “quality of care” the home met only two out of seven standards. Some of the failed standards again related to lack of evidence that work was being done.

Under “complaints and protection”, only one of the five standards required was met by the home because there was a failure to record information.

One of the two standards for “care and control” was met by Westgarth. The inspectors said: “Control over the young people appeared to be on a reactive basis and focused primarily around financial sanctions.”

The home’s “environment” met three out of four standards, although inspectors criticised it for placing the communal telephone where residents could not have a private conversation.

Only one out of five standards were met on “staffing”, inspectors reported, because the home had been “experiencing difficulties”. The report said: “There has not been adequate supervision or training since the previous inspection.

“The home is currently without a dedicated manager pending the outcome of an investigation. Contingency arrangements have been made.”

A new manager has since been employed.

Of the two “management and administration” standards, one was met.

Some positive findings were covered in the report, including news that a keyworker system was recently introduced and an incentive scheme was also set up.

Inspectors from the CSCI spent seven and a half hours at the home interviewing its five young residents and staff before publishing findings.

Aillie Kerrane, Calderdale Council operations manager, said: “We were aware of problems and we have got a number of strategies in place to tackle them, including the appointment of a new manager.

“We are hopeful things are gradually improving. I know, for example, the new manager has started to build up a relationship with neighbours and I think they feel positive about that.”

Westgarth children’s home provides care and accommodation for young people aged 10-16 years for up to six months. It offers a planned response to young people who are in crisis and who are unable to live at home or with long term carers.

The home has made headlines with neighbours saying they suffered from anti-social behaviour from residents for eight years.