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Archived: Dilston College

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Inspection report

Date of Inspection: 21 January 2014
Date of Publication: 20 February 2014
Inspection Report published 20 February 2014 PDF | 85.84 KB

There should be enough members of staff to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs (outcome 13)

Meeting this standard

We checked that people who use this service

  • Are safe and their health and welfare needs are met by sufficient numbers of appropriate staff.

How this check was done

We looked at the personal care or treatment records of people who use the service, carried out a visit on 21 January 2014, observed how people were being cared for and checked how people were cared for at each stage of their treatment and care. We talked with people who use the service, talked with carers and / or family members, talked with staff and talked with commissioners of services.

We were supported on this inspection by an expert-by-experience. This is a person who has personal experience of using or caring for someone who uses this type of care service.

Our judgement

There were enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs.

Reasons for our judgement

We looked at staff arrangements for the students who currently resided at the college. We spoke with the manager, staff, students and some of their parents about staffing levels and whether they felt that arrangements were safe and satisfactory.

Students spoke very highly of the staff who supported them and they informed us that there were always enough staff to assist them appropriately. One student said, “The staff are good and you can see there are two or three staff for five of us in this flat.” One staff member told us, “Staffing levels for the needs of the students are adequate.” Another member of staff said, “I think staffing levels are fine. There is some turnover but it is always dealt with.”

The parents of the student’s we spoke with told us they felt the college had good levels of staff. All of the parents commented on the positive relationships that they enjoyed with the staff most heavily involved with their child. They praised the levels of communication they enjoyed with these members of staff and said that they felt staff were very proactive.

The manager told us she had arrangements in place to check and project ‘termly’ staffing numbers and requirements based on student numbers and needs. This meant she could plan ahead and staff worked on flexible contracts to allow for variance in student’s needs and workload activity. We established that new admissions and arrangements were only agreed and progressed once any required staffing numbers and skill mix were in place.

We saw that staff worked on a regular rolling rota which included working one weekend in two.

We explored staff skills and training. We found that staff with emergency first aid training, and skills and knowledge of how to handle challenging behaviours, were always on duty. The staff team were also supported by a useful fortnightly clinic held at the college with the Northumberland ‘BAIT’ team who gave advice to staff and college based therapists around training needs and behaviour support plans for individual students.

The manager told us that 21 students were resident at the college at the time of our inspection. Staffing cover and allocations were built around the individual accommodation areas and student activities both at and away from the college. We saw daily staffing information which included a sleeping night staff on each residential area and good cover and support arrangements if this member of staff was woken during the night or required assistance. Duty managers were always available and we saw the duty rota cover for the 24 hour period reflected this.

Specialist systems such as epilepsy pagers were in use to alert staff and waking staff were always used if a student was new or unsettled in any way. A personal tutor and a specific keyworker were allocated to the students in each area. Operational meetings were held each Wednesday afternoon when extra staff were available to provide cover.

Useful records were in place to show where staff were working and what they were doing with specific students during the weekdays, together with detail of activities and recreation in the evenings and at weekends.

Additional ancillary personnel such as admin, domestic and maintenance staff were in post with no current staff vacancies. Agency staff were not used and good use was made, where needed, of the Mencap bank staff facility.

The manager told us about some degree of staff turnover and staff told us that recent new recruits were of a high calibre and had settled quickly and well. Staff also reported that staffing levels and support for staff were good with no concerns raised during discussions.

When we visited the main kitchen we found that five students of varying levels of ability were being well supported by two experienced staff and that everyone was safe and enjoying the activities and learning experience in a relaxed and happy atmosphere.