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Council-run children’s home closed following critical Care Inspectorate Wales review

17 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Bridgend County Borough Council’s Civic Offices. Photo Bridgend County Borough Council.

Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter

A council-run children’s home in Bridgend was closed after it was described as having “challenges in relation to consistent and robust management oversight” in a review conducted by the Care Inspectorate Wales in 2022.

Maple Tree House, which was open since February 2019, provided emergency care and support for up to six children or young people from the age of 8–17, at any one time.

It was designed to offer a therapeutic environment for young people, through intensive placements of up to six months to stabilise a child or young person’s behaviour.

However, after Care Inspectorate Wales who are responsible for inspecting regulated care and support services including Children’s Homes in Wales, conducted an annual inspection on June 28, 2022, they raised a number of issues with the service.

These included 13 priority action notices being issued, as the standard of care and support provided to children was said to be poor.

Escalating concerns

It followed the council’s own investigation that took place prior to the inspection, where a decision had been made to place the care home into an escalating concerns process under safeguarding procedures.

The site had also previously failed three inspections between 2019 and 2020 where CIW had found persistent areas of non-compliance with the service.

The latest Care Inspectorate Wales report for 2022 read: “Maple Tree House had been open since February 2019 and from the outset there were challenges in relation to consistent and robust management oversight, stability and skill mix of the workforce and the wide range of issues and level of complexity the children who have lived there have experienced.

“The inspection concluded that children who had been in Maple Tree House had not been supported to have a positive care experience. There were a number of deficits in the skills, experience and training regimes and the stability and permanence of the workforce.”

It added: “CIW noted that this impacted on the ability of the service to meet the identified care planned needs of the children living there, support the children to meet their well-being outcomes and as a result children were placed at risk.”

Maple Tree House has now been placed in a period of dormancy since September 2022, to enable a root and branch review to be completed into the operating model and workforce skill mix required for the site.

New facility

While councillors in attendance heard how there was currently no date set to re-open Maple Tree House, a spokesperson for Bridgend Council added that plans were in place to transfer the service to a purpose built facility in 2023.

They said: “Plans are in place for transferring the important services provided at Maple Tree House into a new, enhanced service. This will be based within a £2.3m purpose-built facility which is set to open later in 2023.

“Bridgend County Borough Council takes its responsibilities as a significant provider of social care services for children extremely seriously.

“We maintain four local facilities where staff work directly with the area’s most vulnerable children, most of whom have complex needs, and remain committed towards providing them with essential care and support that is designed to help them as they grow and develop into adults.

“This is a highly regulated area, and we are actively working to deliver service-wide improvements that will ensure we can provide children in our care with ongoing support specifically tailored towards their needs and best interests.”

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