Two of Family Care’s residential children’s homes have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ in all areas following their recent Ofsted inspections.
Lyth has undergone a transformation of sorts since Registered Manager James started in the Spring of 2018. Whilst care provided to young people was always of a high standard, under James’ leadership the staff team have blossomed and morale is booming.
Residential childcare is a challenging profession, one that does not get the acclaim it deserves. To have staff members enjoying the work they do and feeling fully supported by one another, and by their registered manager, makes a huge difference in the home.
Lyth Hill shares close ties with Acorns, which is only about half an hour’s drive away.
Andie Turner is the Acorns Registered Manager, having worked at the home for 13 years. She joined Family Care as a Residential Childcare Worker and has progressed to the manager position.
Family Care supported Andie to complete her BA (Hons) Degree in Therapeutic Childcare, which has no doubt benefitted both staff and young people at the home. She was understandably delighted with the Ofsted result.
“I am so proud of the staff team here at Acorns. I have worked here for 13 years, and we have never achieved Outstanding in all areas, so to do that under such challenging circumstances makes me very proud of the work we do to improve children’s lives and future chances in life”.
Family Care Ofsted Reports Evidence Hard Work
Both Ofsted reports evidenced the hard work of the Lyth and Acorns teams under challenging circumstances. Ofsted also noted how the homes have used the ‘Secure Base Model’ to inform their daily practice.
The Secure Base Model is a therapeutic practice model of caregiving adopted throughout all Family Care services.
The teams’ therapeutic approach was highlighted perfectly by this comment from the Ofsted inspector at Lyth Hill:
“Staff are creative in meeting the needs of children. For example, staff recognised that one child, who was self-isolating due to COVID-19, was struggling with the lack of physical affection from staff. Staff gave the child a teddy bear; each member of staff had hugged the teddy bear and written a message on it for the child.
“The child was able to hug the teddy bear and read the messages whenever they were feeling upset or anxious. This provided the child with reassurance and comfort during a difficult time. As a result, the child was able to successfully regulate their emotions. For this child, this was a real achievement.”
Preparing Young People for Independence
Leaving care comes with many well documented challenges for young people. Housing, healthcare, and education/employment are the three biggest obstacles according to education secretary Gavin Williamson.
Preparing young people for a life beyond care is hugely important, something which Acorns is becoming well-known for.
Acorns specialises in supporting children to develop their independence skills and prepare them for their futures. Children who have left the home have successfully moved to live in a family home or into semi-independent living, and many stay in touch with the staff.
The Ofsted report said: “The staff are excellent at helping children move in and out of the home. When children are due to move into the home, they visit beforehand, allowing staff to start building effective relationships with children.
When children move out, staff ensure that this is a positive experience. For example, staff provide food parcels, new clothes and bus passes, and ensure that children have everything they need for the next chapter of their lives”.
One such example of effective transitioning was Harry (not his real name), who had lived at the home for over 3 years before transitioning into his own flat.
Staff remain in touch to this day.
Promoting Outcomes for Children in Residential Care
Residential children’s services often get overshadowed by the prominence of adult residential care. In many cases, children living in residential homes present with risk-taking behaviour and significant emotional needs which cannot be safely managed in other settings, such as foster care.
Building a bond and establishing trust helps children to thrive, young people living in residential care are no different.
As evidenced by Ofsted’s report, this is what the staff team at Lyth have accomplished.
“Children trust staff and enjoy spending time with them. Children feel valued, cared for and listened to. Furthermore, children benefit hugely from being able to receive affection and warmth from those staff who look after them. For example, inspectors observed one child seeking out a hug from staff. These positive relationships ensure that children flourish.”
Relationships such as this help children in other ways, including their education.
The Acorns Ofsted report noted how staff had transformed children’s engagement in education, and generally how well children do after moving to the home.
“Children make exceptional progress from their starting points when living in this home. One child was on the brink of being permanently excluded from school. However, since living at the home, his attendance has significantly increased, and he is on track to achieve nine GCSEs. This is because staff have high expectations for children and provide clear and consistent boundaries that give children security and structure.”
Ofsted awards are great of course, but it’s achievements like the one above which are the biggest motivation for staff at Family Care.
Reaction from Family Care Staff
Family Care’s Residential Operations Manager Liz Hiley: “This is an amazing achievement for Lyth and Acorns, especially given the current Covid-19 situation. I’m so happy for James, Andie, and everyone working in the home and supporting it from afar. It’s nice they have been recognised for the hard work they do, they fully deserve the outcome”.”
Lyth Hill Registered Manager James Spice: “I am so proud of the staff team here at Lyth. The past 12-months have been really challenging due to Covid-19, so to achieve Outstanding in all areas is brilliant. It’s always nice to receive recognition like this, but as long as the children in the home are thriving and happy, that is all we really care about”.
Group Operations Director Andrew O’Reilly: “We could not be happier for the teams at Lyth & Acorns, what a fantastic result through such a difficult period. I believe all our services provide outstanding care and education, but to have an outside body confirm this to be the case is just wonderful”.
You can access the full Ofsted reports for both homes using the links below
Lyth Hill Ofsted Report, 2021: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50163905
Acorns Ofsted Report, 2021: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50166053
Healing Pasts | Building Futures.
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