“Children regularly go missing from the home,” - Damning report on Lowestoft children’s home

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Ofsted logo - Credit: Archant

Vulnerable residents of a children's home in Lowestoft are faced with confrontational staff, inadequate protection from sexual exploitation and physical intervention, a watchdog has said.

A damning report from Ofsted has found Ballard House children's home inadequate in all areas following an inspection last month.

The home, which is operated by provider PCT Care Services Ltd, can provide accommodation for up to six children, with inspectors identifying widespread failures during its December visit.

The scathing report states the safety of the children living there is not assured, with staff often taking physical measures to discipline them.

It said: 'A lack of adequate training and guidance has meant some of the staff use physical intervention to make children comply.

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'An example is moving a child physically from areas in the home when the child has refused to move or has prevent staff from leaving an area.'

The report also outlined a particular incident, in which a child's disclosure about sexual exploitation was not appropriately responded to.

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The report said: 'The manager and staff have failed to update one risk assessment with information, disclosed to the staff by a child, that indicated a significant risk of child sexual exploitation.

'Additionally, the child has been missing alone on four occasions in six weeks. Although two recorded conversations clearly indicate a risk, this has not been considered by staff or linked to her going missing from the home.'

The inspectors also found residents regularly go missing from the home, leaving late at night or in extreme weather conditions without staff being aware.

'On one occasion, the staff failed to take immediate action to follow the children, despite there being ample staff on duty.'

A further incident involved one of the children setting fire to aerosols inside the home, while the inspector stated confrontation from the residents is reciprocated by the staff.

'The approach to behaviour management is unclear, ad hoc and dependent on who is on duty,' the report states. 'A lack of approach and strategy to behavioural incidents results in practice that escalates from some children's behaviour.'

The provider also runs Eastways Home in Bacton.

Director's reaction

Directors say a new management team is to be recruited for the home in light of the inspection.

Michael Millage, director for PCT Care Services Ltd, said: 'We are all very saddened and disappointed in the outcome of the report and we are in the process of recruiting a new management team.

'We are working hard and reflecting on how we can improve and ensure our service consistently provides a safe, nurturing environment for young people in our care.

'We have engaged one of our very experienced managers and a social worker to complete the action plan that will address all of the requirements witin the report and the further changes we will be making.

'We are looking forward to welcoming the new management to support Ballard House's fresh start.

'Ofsted will be revisiting in the near future to reinspect the house and the safeguards that are in place to ensure our care and support is of a high standard.

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