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Council / Recruitment difficulties one reason behind ‘adequate’ ratings for residential facility, meeting hears

THE NEW residential care facility for children in Tingwall has been given two ‘adequate’ ratings from inspectors – with recruitment challenges have been pinpointed as one reason behind the grades.

The Stura facility, which opened in 2021, was given the ratings by the Care Inspectorate.

Care Inspectorate ratings range from one – unsatisfactory – to six, which is deemed excellent.

There were positives in the inspection report, including staff being committed to providing a good service for young people and users being supported to be part of the local community.

The inspection was carried out in August 2022.

One area of concern for councillors at Monday’s education and families committee was inspectors saying young people were “not safe”.

The inspection report said: “Staff recognised young people’s need and right to be safe from bullying and did their best to protect young people from this, however, despite the best efforts of staff young people were not physically safe from each other.

“Changes to the adults looking after them also compromised their ability to feel emotionally safe. Some incidents had also impacted on their safety.”

Children’s social work manager Jordan Sutherland explained that there were delays to recruiting to key management roles at Stura.

He said at the time of inspection staff were also in the process of commissioning alternative care and education for a young person.

“The Care Inspectorate observed some of the difficulties that the team were having at that time,” Sutherland said.

A multi-agency review has since been carried out for the individual.

Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Stephen Leask expressed concern about the mention of children not being safe.

Sutherland in response that the issue highlighted was a need for consistency of practice across the team in relation to physical intervention.

“Because of some of the recruitment challenges that we were facing at the time, not everybody had the same training and knowledge around that specific part of the plan for that individual,” he said.

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Children’s services director Helen Budge said Stura provides services to some of the most vulnerable young folk.

“We didn’t like to hear that young people weren’t safe,” she said.

“It’s certainly something that we need to always keep at the forefront of our mind.”

But she said the behaviour and reactions of some vulnerable young people can be challenging.

Budge said the “absolute objective” is to keep young people in Shetland but sometimes there are instances where, for their “best interests”, it is necessary for them to go off-island.

Inspections were also carried out in services like adoption, adult placement, fostering and residential childcare.

The short breaks for children service was given one good and one adequate rating.

But there were also many good or very good ratings given to services.

Sutherland said this was testament to the work of staff.

Committee chair Davie Sandison said some of the inspection reports were “very, very heartening to see”.

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