Report reveals 40 assaults on staff at Fife residential childcare homes

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A Fife MSP has spoken of his shock at the discovery there had been 40 incidents of assault on staff by residents in Fife Council run residential childcare homes in the past year.

Almost half of them occurred within a two-month period.

Alex Rowley, MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, described 15 assaults in September alone as “frightening” and has asked Fife Council to outline its actions to protect staff.

The figures came following a Freedom Of Information request he submitted to find out the extent of any issues following critical Care Inspectorate reports at Glenlyon Care Home in Leven, and Ardean Care Home in Dunfermline.

Alex Rowley raised the issue after the critical reportsAlex Rowley raised the issue after the critical reports
Alex Rowley raised the issue after the critical reports

He said: “I was quite shocked by this response.”

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The reports were carried out in December 2021 and April of this year.

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In a letter to Steve Grimmond, chief executive, he said: “Both these inspections raised serious concern over the running of these care homes, the safety of children and staff and the quality of the provision.”

Mr Rowley added: “I would want to repeat that no worker should be in fear of assault at their work, and I believe Fife Council has a duty of care to children in care and the staff that work with them.”

He acknowledged that the local authority does not have a secure unit - children needing such facilities are sent outwith the Kingdom - but added: “It is suggested that given Fife Council’s commitment to all Fife children remaining in Fife, children can be placed in unsuitable accommodation and behavioural needs can be ignored and can impact on all residents and staff.”

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The council accepted the inspection reports were disappointing.

Kathy Henwood, head of education and children's services said she was “confident this is not a reflection of the standard of care across the eight residential houses in Fife. “

She continued:: "We have detailed action plans in place to respond to both inspections and all actions have been implemented.

“We are confident we provide the care and support children' young people need, as well as supporting our residential care staff. The residential childcare homes are all inspected annually, and respond to any improvements required. This fits with our approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement.”She recognised that some of the young people the service supports have complex needs and said is is working with staff to make sure they are “confident and competent in responding to the level of trauma and adversity that children and young people can display.”

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Ms Henwood added: “ We have a comprehensive training plan offering specialist training and support to staff. We are working with staff and young people to ensure that the working environment is safe and are promoting the reporting of any incidents in order to better capture and respond to the challenges faced. This data allows us to look at a range of supports.

"Children and young people continue to receive high quality care planning giving them the opportunity to reach their potential and enhance their life chances.

"Both inspection reports highlighted positive staff relationships with children and young people. We will continue to work with partners to make sure effective care placements meet the range of all children and young people placed within residential care. “