by Brian Thompson
Just as the Munro Review aims to free up social worker’s from red-tape and revalue their professional expertise I would make a plea for children’s home staff to be given the same respect.
While there have been bad eggs uncovered in the residential care sector since the 1980s, the past 20 years have certainly not valued the good eggs.
Despite being required, quite rightly, to have our management staff trained to a very high level we are paradoxically micro-managed by our registration body, Ofsted.
We have no freedom to use our qualifications, experience and extensive knowledge to make the best of the funding that is afforded us. For example, is it not a waste of the skills for qualified managers to be barred from managing more than a single unit of either dual or single occupancy unless it’s within 20 minutes of travel?
I also find it difficult to understand how we universally accept documentation such as driving licenses and passports as acceptable proof of identity but at the same time potential employees cannot produce a current, valid and in-date CRB they may have obtained from a current or previous employer. These and many more unnecessary expenses have sent the cost of residential care through the roof and is now clearly considered by many authorities as unaffordable.
This must leave the only alternative as fostering. But how can anybody expect an individual foster carer or fostering couples to manage the needs of an extremely damaged client group, 24 hours a day in their own home and with the same expertise that I am required to provide with eight or nine staff and in a specialist environment?
If there is to be a successful, and cost effective alternative to fostering for the extremely problematic young person, we need to find a way to identify trustworthy organisations and allow them to do what they do best.
Sometimes when I reflect on the past it feels like the equivalent to constructive dismissal. From a business point of view it would be better if someone from central government simply declared that “we will be phasing you out” rather than just making life impossible, until we just give up.
Brian Thompson runs the Anderida Adolescent Care Home in East Sussex
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