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We are carrying out a review of quality at Ruskin Mill College. We will publish a report when our review is complete. Find out more about our inspection reports.


Inspection carried out on 8 March 2021

During an inspection looking at part of the service

Ruskin Mill College is a specialist residential college and a shared lives service for young people with learning disabilities, autism and/or mental health needs. The shared lives scheme provides people with long-term placements, short breaks and respite care, within shared lives carer’s (SLC) own homes. The service can support up to 45 people. 20 people were receiving personal care at the time of the inspection.

The service has been developed and designed in line with the principles and values that underpin Registering the Right Support and other best practice guidance. This ensures that people who use the service can live as full a life as possible and achieve the best possible outcomes. The principles reflect the need for people with learning disabilities and/or autism to live meaningful lives that include control, choice, and independence. People using the service receive planned and co-ordinated person-centred support that is appropriate and inclusive for them.

People's experience of using this service and what we found

Ruskin Mill College provides care to young people commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups from across the country. Some young people required significant emotional, mental health and behavioural support to keep them safe. Ongoing support from local specialist multi-disciplinary services was routinely needed to ensure people’s needs could be met safely. This included support with risk assessment and implementing and reviewing management strategies. This ensured support plans and other management strategies remained effective in reducing the likelihood of the person experiencing a ‘crisis’.

The local clinical commissioning group raised concerns that local mental health services were often not informed a new person had moved to Ruskin Mill, until the person was in crisis and needed emergency support. There were concerns there may be limited opportunities for local specialists to establish a relationship, develop understanding and provide pro-active support, before being required to support people in crisis.

As part of this inspection we discussed the support pathway for young people, including where wider health and social care support was required as part of their care.

We found Ruskin Mill College followed national good practice guidance when supporting people with anxiety related behaviour to stay safe. The service responded appropriately when incidents occurred, and young people experienced a crisis. People and their relatives felt the service was safe.

Staff knew young people well and could describe how they would support them to reduce their anxiety and prevent their behaviour from escalating. Staff had received training in how to manage anxiety related behaviour.

Staff understood the Mental Capacity Act definition of restraint and worked within it. Staff assessed and managed risks to young people and others well. They followed best practice in anticipating, de-escalating and managing challenging behaviour. Staff could describe how they used de-escalation techniques to avoid the use of restraint. As a result, they used restraint only after attempts at de-escalation had failed. The service continued to work on reducing restrictive interventions and use of restrictive interventions were low; staff worked well to limit them.

We did, however, find effective links between Ruskin Mill College and local specialist multi-disciplinary support services were not always well established. This was essential to ensure a coordinated and seamless transition of support for young people with mental health needs. This meant pro-active plans had not always been put in place in agreement with all relevant local specialist multi-disciplinary services. This was needed to ensure local mental health services could get to know people’s needs and effectively plan and provide early interventions including preventative support.

Prior to our inspection, Ruskin Mill College had identified work was needed to agree a