Closure of Victoria Children’s Home: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why did the children’s home close?
On 2 May 2019, Ofsted suspended the registration of Livability’s Victoria Children’s Home. The suspension followed a previous inspection in August 2018 where the service was rated as requiring improvement. An action plan was put in place to address the issues identified in the inspection report, however issues remained, particularly around dispensing of medicines and staffing arrangements. These were highlighted in an internal Livability audit report on 16 April 2019 and we developed a robust plan to make the improvements needed. However because of a higher than usual turnover of staff we were relying on short-term agency staff to fill the gaps in the rota as well as an interim team of managers from within our adult services and following a medication incident on 27 April 2019 we recognised that we needed more time to make the improvements necessary.
Based on this information, the outstanding challenges, and the time needed to make the necessary improvements our management team decided on 29 April 2019, prior to and independently of the Ofsted announcement, to close the Home. We communicated our intention to close in a rapid but controlled manner to all relevant authorities responsible for placing children at the Home. However, the timing of the Ofsted inspection was such that it led to an immediate suspension of registration on 2 May 2019 resulting in the immediate closure of the Home for at least three months and ahead of our forthcoming planned closure.
Q. Why couldn’t the necessary improvements be made?
It was felt that more time was needed to address the outstanding challenges and make the necessary improvements. We faced particular challenges in recruiting and retaining staff and were very dependent on short-term agency staff. We felt that taking this action was in the best interests of the children at this time, who would be found alternative care and accommodation.
Q. How many children were cared for at the Home and what type of needs did they have?
At the time, eleven children with significant special needs, including some with complex medical needs, were being accommodated and cared for at the Home.
Q. What has Livability done to support the children and families going forward?
We are deeply sorry for the impact the closure has had on the children being cared for at Victoria Children’s Home and their families. The welfare of the children is our number one priority. We have worked with the relevant authorities to support the transition of the children into alternative accommodation and care to ensure they and their families continued to have their needs met at what we know has been an unsettling time for them. We have also continued to provide ongoing support where this has been appropriate, for example, Victoria Education Centre has provided outreach work with a team which includes nurses, therapists and teachers to ensure where necessary children’s very specific needs continue to be met.
Q. What plans are there to learn from this?
Following the inspection we acted quickly and have commissioned specialist external support to review and where necessary strengthen our recruitment, training and medicines management procedures across our services. We are committed to delivering to the highest standards across all our services and we will respond to and act upon the findings of this review we have commissioned as well as the recommendations of the latest Ofsted report when it is published.
Q. Will the Children’s Home reopen?
At present we have no plans to reopen the home. Because of the challenges that the home has faced for some time we will take the opportunity to assess next steps to find the best long-term solution about its future.
Q. What will happen to the staff who were employed at the Children’s Home?
We are currently in consultation with staff who were employed at the Home about options for them going forward which include redeployment to another service. We understand this is a challenging time for staff and are working to make the process as smooth as possible for those impacted.
Q. What impact does this have on the Victoria Education Centre?
Livability’s Victoria Education Centre, which is a school that has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, is run as a separate entity to the Victoria Children’s Home and remains open to its students as usual.