A critical report by Ofsted inspectors into a former children’s home near Sleaford reveals there were “serious and widespread failures” before owners closed it in May.
Soteria House, at Anwick was a residential children’s home for up to 17 young people which also had an independent school catering for day pupils and those living at the home.
Ofsted inspectors went in on April 30 and May 1 and suspended the home’s registration rating it ‘Inadequate’ until issues could be addressed, and police also carried out investigations into safeguarding allegations.
The home’s owners immediately opted to close it and the school voluntarily, and liquidate the business.
Lincolnshire Police have since completed their investigation, taking no further action on the abuse allegations.
In their report on the home, Ofsted inspectors summarised that the children and young people were not protected, or their welfare was not promoted or safeguarded, the care and experiences of children and young people were poor and they were not making progress.
The registered manager was said to have failed to review the quality of care being provided to children and the inspectors added: “The registered manager admits to not knowing which staff can be trusted to safely care for children at this time.
“He further admits to not having a clear strategy in place to address current concerns and ensure the safety of children.”
The report stated that staff failed to protect children from actual or potential harm on several occasions. One child made a complaint about safeguarding to the registered manager, who failed to respond in an appropriate manner and did not record actions, or decisions taken.
Not all children were supported to make choices such as clothing, and storage of personal items was inadequate. One child’s bedroom was exceptionally sparse and only provided a bed. The same child was not allowed to use their en-suite bathroom.
The report also said children were not routinely treated with dignity and respect.
Managers were not insisting on staff wearing protective clothing, resulting in staff being injured.
It said staff and managers had failed to report historic abuse to relevant agencies. One staff member failed to report recent alleged verbal and physical abuse of a child by two other staff members.
The inspectors say: “The registered manager failed to take necessary and immediate disciplinary action in relation to this.”
The report also said due to several staff being suspended as a result of recent abuse allegations there was an increase in inexperienced agency staff.
A spokesperson for Soteria House Ltd. said: “Our first priority at all times is the health and safety of the people who live in, work at and visit the service. We have had regular independent monthly inspections of the service undertaken by an experienced professional, as well as a full management structure overseeing the service.
“We will carefully consider the report’s content and ensure that any lessons are learned for the future.”