The public and those who use social care services are increasingly wanting and rightly so evidence of transparency and integrity in the decisions that are being made about their social care provision and what outcomes they should expect that will improve their lives.
Outcomes of serious case reviews have highlighted that those complaints, Investigations, service reviews and development of services that were undertaken in-house are often open to criticism and further scrutiny.
ACHIEVE can support your organisation in reducing this risk. ACHIEVE has a highly skilled and diverse range of Associate Management Consultants who are experts within their specialist area of social care. Each has a minimum of fifteen years post qualifying experience and share the passion to ensure better outcomes for vulnerable children and adults. Our Management Consultants offer a range of services such as Independent Person, Independent Investigating Officer, Independent Reviewers/Auditors and Independent Chairs and Lead Reviewers for Serious Case Reviews and Safeguarding Adults Reviews.
Please see below for a range of services provided.
The following does not apply to young people who are detained in secure children’s homes as a result of having been sentenced or remanded through the youth justice system.
What The Legislation Says…..
Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 states that a child who is being looked after by the local authority may not be placed, and, if placed, may not be kept in secure accommodation which restricts their liberty unless that child has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from any other description of accommodation other than secure and if does abscond is likely to suffer significant harm or if the child is likely to injure himself or others in any other accommodation which is not secure.
Regulations 11 and 12 of Secure Accommodation Regulations 1991 states that the maximum period a court may authorise a child/young person to be kept in secure accommodation on welfare grounds is:
(a) Three months on the first application to the court, or
(b) Six months in respect of any further application to the court to continue to keep that young person in secure accommodation
The Court has the ability to grant short orders and Local Authorities may choose to apply for a succession of orders. Those children under the age of 13 years cannot be placed in secure accommodation without prior approval of the Secretary of State who may include terms and conditions about the placement.
The placing Local Authority under Regulation 15 of the Secure Accommodation Regulations must arrange a review within one month of the child or young person being placed in secure accommodation. The panel must consist of at least three persons to undertake the review and at least one of whom ( the Independent Person) “must not be a member of, or an officer of, the local authority by or on behalf of which the young person is being looked after” ( the local authority managing the secure unit in which the child or young person is accommodated).
What is the Purpose of a Secure Accommodation Review?
The purpose of a Secure Accommodation Review (sometimes known as ‘criteria review’) is to assess whether the need for secure accommodation continues to be necessary. Regulation 16(1) states the panel “must satisfy themselves as to whether or not:
a. the criteria for keeping the child in secure accommodation continue to apply, and
b. the placement in such accommodation continues to be necessary, and
c. any other description of accommodation would not be appropriate for him;
and in doing so they shall have regard to the welfare of the child…’.
Regulation 16(2) states that the panel “shall, if practicable, ascertain and take into account the wishes and feelings of:
a. the child
b. any parent of his
c. any person not being a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for him
d. any other person who has had the care of the young person, whose views the persons appointed consider should be taken into account
e. the young person’s independent visitor if one has been appointed, and
f. the local authority managing the secure accommodation in which the child is placed if that authority is not the authority who are looking after the child”
Information from any other relevant person should also be sought prior the review, for example, staff from the unit, social worker, psychiatrist and or psychologist, education staff and the young person's guardian where court proceedings are pending.
Important to Know…
It is the Social Worker or other Local Authority worker, not the staff at the secure accommodation to organise the Secure Accommodation Review. The Social Worker and or their manager, Guardian, allocated IRO, advocate or staff from the secure accommodation should not be part of the panel.
The Secure Accommodation Review should never be used as a substitute for a Looked After Child Review the two reviews are distinctly different and should thus be treated as such. The Serious Accommodation Review should be held prior to a Looked After Child Review so it can be used to inform care planning and review of the Looked After child or young person.
How Can ACHIEVE Support Your Organisation?
ACHIEVE has access to a number of highly skilled and experienced Independent Person's for Secure Accommodation Reviews. The young person should always have their voice heard as part of the review, and usually, this will fall to either the young person’s Social Worker or a staff member at the secure unit.
Our Independent Persons understand that often the child or young person has been through significant trauma leading to admission in a secure setting. As such our Independent Person’s will arrive early to visit the child or young person. They will explain to the young person their role and how the review will work. They will offer to listen to the views, feelings, and wishes of the young person and can report them to the review panel where there is no advocate to support the young person in doing this themselves.
From April 2015, the Children's Homes Regulations and Quality Standards came into force. Regulation 44 requires an independent person to visit the children's home at least once a month; it may or may not be unannounced. Their role is to interview the children, their parents, relatives, and persons working at the home (if consent is gained). The independent person will inspect the premises of the home and the home's records. The focus of the inspection visit should identify whether the children in the home's care are effectively safeguarding and their well-being promoted.
The independent person will then compile a report which much be completed and submitted to the following persons and organisations:
2. Upon request, the local authority for the area in which the home is located
3. The placing authorities of the children
4. The registered provider, registered manager if applicable and the responsible individual is one is nominated.
The report may recommend actions that the registered person may take about the home and timescales within which the registered person must consider whether or not to take those actions. If the independent person becomes aware of any potential conflict of interest after a visit to the home, then this must be recorded in their report.
ACHIEVEs Independent Visitor will focus on the quality of care and how the home is meeting the often-complex needs of the children and young people placed in their care. We will listen to the voice of the child and measure against the National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes. We aim to act in the role of a critical friend to ensure your continuous improvement. Our Independent Visitors will identify areas of good practice and areas which require development, providing you with recommendations which will support you in your improvement plans moving forward.
Who are our Independent Visitors?
Our Independent Visitors have a minimum of 15 years post qualifying experience in their specialist area of social care. They include former Ofsted Inspectors, Care Quality Commission Inspectors, Care Home Managers and Senior Social Workers and Social Work Managers.
ACHIEVE's Independent Visitors can be commissioned by Local Authorities, Children's Trusts, Local Authorities Children's Social Enterprises and Independent Children's Homes as either a fixed term contract or spot purchase arrangement.
Our Independent Beyond Auditing Independent Auditors have extensive experience of social work practice at both an operational and strategic level.
At ACHIEVE we pride ourselves in our ability to work alongside your staff and managers fostering facilitative relationships that inspires front line staff and management alike to be part of the ‘live’ auditing experience while receiving valuable learning as part of the process. Evidence has shown us that but utilising this approach your staff become part of the journey to improve weaker areas of service provision and or practice.
What is Beyond Auditing?
Traditionally auditing in the social care sector often focuses on long-term or closed cases with little to no involvement of the cases Social Worker and Manager. Beyond Auditing differs as our Auditors will work on ‘live’ cases alongside your Social Workers and Managers. This approach allows our auditors and your staff to have immediate oversight and understanding of front-line practice in action, not several months down the line. By working alongside your staff, we will facilitate reflective conversation with the Social Worker and their Manager which is in ‘real time.' The result of this approach brings embedded learning and immediate change in identifying areas of practice weakness and or issues with pathways and systems and allows for good practice of an individual and or team to be praised whilst driving forward a culture of learning and ownership.
What Will Beyond AuditingBring to Your Organisation?
Beyond Auditing's ultimate aim is to ensure improved outcomes for the most vulnerable children, young people, and adults within our society. This is achieved by:
The public and those who use services want and demand assurance, they want to feel secure and safe with the services they receive of and expect services to be transparent and open to scrutiny and challenge. ACHIEVE’s highly skilled and experienced Independent Investigating, Designated Officers and Independent Persons will provide your organisation with the independence and transparency required to ensure the complaints process is fair, the voice of the child, young person or vulnerable adult is heard and that the process and outcomes withstand robust external scrutiny.