Semi-Independent Placement - 'Other Arrangements' Service Standards and Expectations of Semi-Independent - Supported Accommodation Providers (Contract Requirements and Inspection Requirements)
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
'Other Arrangements' and suitable accommodation is the term used for accommodation and placements for children looked after and care leavers (aged 16 & 17) that are not registered under the Care Standards Act 2000 and are therefore not inspected by Ofsted. Within this manual they are referred to as semi-independent placement.
These range from shared and supported placements with 24 hour onsite support, to shared placements with different levels of day time support (private providers and registered landlords) to independent accommodation with floating / visiting support.
The following section constitutes:
- Contract Expectations and Standards;
- Inspection Standards.
- Supported Accommodation with minimal to 24 hour on-site support and staff cover;
- Supported Accommodation - independent flats with floating/outreach support.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with:
The standards below should be applied to all private provider organisations and registered providers (Landlords, Private Providers and Registered Providers/Registered Social Landlords/Housing Associations) that provide placements/accommodation with, or without support to Children Looked After and care leavers who are the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council. The application of all standards will need to be considered against each private provider organisation or registered provider.
2. Managing Risk and Young People with Different Levels of Need
Each semi-independent organisation that provide shared accommodation for 2 or more young people should have an assessment, risk management and client matching policy and framework to ensure young people do not represent a risk to each other and that the provider organisation can ensure that placing young people together does not increase their individual vulnerability. This is particularly important where a provider places young people from different responsible authorities and where registered providers support young people from age 16 to 24.
Private providers intending to place a young person from another local authority alongside a Hertfordshire County Council young person must notify the Brokerage Accommodation Team of their intention to do so and how any risk issues will be managed.
3. Client Information
Any client information provided by Hertfordshire County Council should be treated in the strictest confidence. All information and files on clients should be held in a locked and secure setting. In situations where young people are directly involved in contributing to their own files and documentation, for example as part of a planned empowerment or preparation for independence programme, clear boundaries and confidentiality must be maintained. Computers containing client and Hertfordshire County Council information must always be password protected (minimum 8 characters) and have security, anti-virus and firewall software.
4. Referrals and Placements
All referrals will be sent to Supported Accommodation Providers using password protected documents and encrypted e-mails. Passwords will be given to providers by telephone.
If a young person is not offered a placement, or does not move to the placement, referral information must be returned immediately to Hertfordshire County Council. When a client leaves a placement, only information for statistical purposes should be retained. All client information and files must be returned to the relevant social work team which holds case responsibility for the young person.
Hertfordshire County Council will ensure Providers have an up to date and comprehensive referral and risk assessment. The majority of Semi-Independent Supported Accommodation is deemed 'Other Arrangements' under the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review. The Guidance highlights that where practical, young people should view a new placement or accommodation prior to moving, the young person's wishes and feelings should be taken into account and the young person's education, training and employment needs should be considered when assessing the placement/accommodation's suitability and location.
Prior to the move, a statutory review, chaired by the young person's Independent Reviewing Officer should take place and the Placement Plan and Pathway Plan (which includes the Care Plan) should be reviewed and amended accordingly and a written record of the review should be placed on the young person's case file.
Providers should familiarise themselves with the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review, particularly page 60 to 116 and Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers.
Once a young person has moved to a new placement, the Care Plan that includes the Pathway Plans should be reviewed within 28 days of the move, then after a further 3 months and then after a further 6 months (or as required). The Placement Plan (Placement Agreement and Individual Placement Contract) should also be reviewed and amended as required.
As part of the placement planning process a Placement Plan (Placement Agreement) is required and should be developed.
5. Client Reports
Accommodation Providers who also provide support (onsite or visiting/floating support) are required to supply weekly, fortnightly or monthly reports setting out the work that has been undertaken with the young person and their progress and achievements. The frequency of the report is dependent on the number of support hours being provided to the young person.
1 to 5 hours of support per week - Monthly Reports
5.25 hours to 10 hours of support per week - Fortnightly Reports
10.25 hours and above of support per week - Weekly Reports
The format of the report is set out below:
- Practical Skills and Preparation for Independence Tasks;
- Relationship Issues;
- Health Issues;
- Financial and Benefit Issues;
- Education, Training and Employment;
- Key Achievements and Tasks Completed;
- Future Goals and Tasks for next Report.
The reports should be sent to the social worker/personal adviser for the individual young person.
6. Property - Health and Safety
Supported Accommodation Providers should ensure all properties comply with the Hertfordshire County Council Health and Safety requirements. See Section 3, Client Information and Appendix One - to follow.
7. Supported Accommodation Provider Insurance Cover:
Supported Accommodation Providers should hold the following levels of insurance cover:
|Professional Indemnity Insurance||£5 million|
|Employers Liability Insurance||£10 million|
|Public Liability Insurance||£5 million|
Supported Accommodation Providers should have appropriate damage and contents insurance cover in order to make good all damage to the property and ensure replacement of the provider's equipment and contents.
A deviation from the above Insurance levels will only be agreed following a risk assessment and agreement from the local authority Nominated Officer.
8. 'Notifiable' Events - (Events and Notification Procedure)
See procedures and forms at Local Offer for Care Leavers.
Supported Accommodation Providers should have a Notification Policy which sets out the arrangements for notifying the young person's responsible authority of any serious incident. If any 'notifiable event' takes place the floating support manager or individual unit manager and the provider organisation senior manager shall, without delay, notify the appropriate responsible local authority contact.
The provider should have a policy and system in place to notify within 24 hours the nominated responsible local authority contact of the occurrence of any significant events. The policy and system should include what to do where a notifiable event arises at weekends.
A written record is kept which includes details of the action taken, and the outcome of any action or investigation, following a notifiable event.
The provider should also have a policy and system for notification to the responsible authority of any serious concerns about the emotional or mental health of a young person such that a mental health assessment would be requested under the Mental Health Act 1983.
Following a 'notifiable' incident the semi-independent supported accommodation provision contacts the responsible local authority nominated officer to discuss any further action that may need to be taken.
The requirements set out above are based on Regulation 30, Schedule 5 of the Children's Homes Regulations and Guidance 2001, amended 2011.
See Appendix Seven - Events and Notification Procedures and Forms - to follow.
9. Case Files
Supported Accommodation Providers should set up a case file for each young person placed with them. The file should be structured according to the model file provided by Hertfordshire County Council. The file should be structured as follows:
- Basic and Essential Information;
- Referral Form;
- Individual Placement Contract;
- Placement Plans, Care Plans and Pathway Plans;
- Health Information and Health Plans;
- Personal Education Plans and Education, Training and Employment Activities;
- Risk Management Plan;
- Finance Information;
- Supervision Actions;
- Case Recording;
- Keywork Sessions.
10. Case Recording
Supported Accommodation Providers should record all contacts with clients (young people), professionals, young people's family and friends and other individuals or organisations relating to young people in their placement/s, these should include:
- Telephone conversations and telephone messages and whether the call was to, or from the provider;
- Letters to and from the provider;
- Meetings about the young person (with or without the young person present);
- Visits to individuals and organisations;
- People visiting the young person;
- Text messages to, or from the provider;
- E-mail messages to, or from the provider;
- Keywork/support sessions;
- Significant events.
Supported Accommodation Providers should have a visitor's book and an accident and incident log for each unit and should record all visitors and log any accident and incident. Depending on the seriousness of the accident or incident these should be reported immediately to Hertfordshire County Council or discussed at the next case or contract/supervision meeting. In certain circumstances the incident may be deemed a 'Notifiable' event and should be dealt with in accordance with the 'Events and Notification' procedure. See Leaving Care and Other Arrangements (Hertfordshire County Council Website).
11. Safer Recruitment
Supported Accommodation Providers should have policies and procedures on safer recruitment that cover the following issues: staff recruitment; application; short listing and appointing procedures.
For example, successful applicants should have:
- Photographic evidence of identity and the right to work in the UK signed and verified;
- Evidence of their current address - signed and verified - These must be current/valid and/or less than 6 months old;
- Qualifications - evidenced;
- Verification of gaps in employment;
- Two written references on official/headed paper where applicable, the references should be checked and confirmed by a phone call from the provider and the reference signed and dated with the confirmation information;
- A new valid enhanced DBS (formerly CRB) check - organisation to retain a record of the unique reference number, the outcome of the check and the date the check was completed;
- Evidence of further checks where the member of staff has not always been resident in the UK;
- A personal interview;
- All of the above checks and information requirements should take place and be confirmed before the staff member is provided with an offer of employment and a contract.
12. Supported Accommodation Providers Staffing and Supervision
All Supported Accommodation Provider staff, including managers and directors should have a personnel file. The file should contain the following information:
- Start date and personal contact information;
- Application form, CV, appointing information, references and identity documentation;
- Qualifications and previous training;
- Evidence of a new enhanced DBS ( formerly CRB) check (prior to starting);
- Evidence of a risk assessment and risk evaluation where an enhanced DBS ( formerly CRB) check highlights a 'trace';
- Induction programme and evidence of completion;
- Training record with the provider;
- Supervision notes:
- Supervision notes relating to the workers should be retained on the staff file;
- Supervision notes and actions relating to individual young people should be placed in the young person's file;
- Record of sickness, leave, disciplinary issues;
- Where a staff member is promoted within the organisation, evidence of applications, interviews and a new contract should be present.
13. Staff Skills and Training
Supported Accommodation Providers should have a training strategy to ensure that they have a suitably skilled and trained workforce. The policy should cover:
- Essential, core and foundation training;
- Specialist and advanced training.
All providers should have a matrix setting out the courses that each member of staff has completed and the frequency that courses should be repeated. Providers should set out the percentage of their staff that has a recognised health, social care and housing qualification.
As a minimum all staff must have attended recognised and approved:
- Child protection/safeguarding training;
- Substance and alcohol misuse training;
- Managing risk training;
- Cyber bullying, e-protection training;
- Sexual exploitation training;
- Child and adolescent development training, related to preparation for independence and the transition to adulthood (leaving care).
Depending on the level of need of the young people placed within a particular provider unit, staff will be expected to have specialist and advanced skills.
14. Safer Caring
Supported Accommodation Providers should have policies on 'Safer Caring' that sets out guidance, procedures and protocols regarding ensuring young people and staff are aware of the parameters within which staff work and within which young people are supported. The policy should cover:
- Lone working;
- Entering young people's rooms;
- Personal and private space - bedrooms;
- Young people's visitors;
- Young people's family visiting;
- Shared space - communal areas;
- Allegations of inappropriate behaviour and abuse;
- Young people and risk taking behaviour;
- Staff codes and behaviour whilst on duty;
- Undertaking external visits;
- Confidentially, sharing information and e-protection;
- Safeguarding and child protection.
15. Supported Accommodation Providers - Personal Information
Provider staff must not share their own or family personal details or contact details with young people. Provider staff should also be extremely careful regarding the information they leave on social networking sites and should not have contact with young people via these sites. Provider staff should not have contact with young people outside of work hours. In the event that a young person obtains personal details of a provider staff member this must be reported to the provider manager and the Hertfordshire County Council nominated officer. In circumstances where a provider member of staff inadvertently comes into contact with a young person outside of work hours this must be recorded using the standard case recording forms. Where young people return to the semi-independent provider unit after they have left, this should be recorded using the standard case recording forms and a copy sent to a) the young person's case worker and b) the nominated liaison contact in Hertfordshire County Council.
Supported Accommodation Providers should have policies on staff personal disclosure and what types of information is appropriate to share with young people to promote positive role models and working relationships and what should not be shared. Whilst this is a complex area, it is expected that providers will develop guidelines for staff members and should be covered in a 'Codes of Conduct' manual.
16. Boundaries and Confidentiality
Providers should not accept gifts from young people and should deter young people from giving gifts to provider staff. However, in practice young people will often give gifts, such as chocolates and to refuse these may be considered rejecting and may result in a negative working relationship. Where it is considered inappropriate to reject, or turn down a gift the following procedures should be followed. The gift should be recorded by the Supported Accommodation Provider and the manager of the provider (where applicable) and Hertfordshire County Council informed. The gift should be shared between the provider staff team. Gifts should only be given to young people by providers within the parameters of the leaving care finance policy and must be recorded. It is important to observe this policy in order to avoid young people having unrealistic expectations of providers, perceiving they are deemed 'favourites', setting up future expectations and importantly, providers and young people being open to accusations of persuasion/influence.
Providers should maintain confidentiality regarding all aspects of the young person's situation and circumstances. Information about current or previously placed young people should never be exchanged with other young people. Young people will often enquire about other young people that providers have supported and this opportunity should be used to ensure individual young people are made aware that information is confidential to that young person. In situations where providers have concerns about any aspect of confidentiality or the need to share information they must always contact their nominated Hertfordshire County Council contact and the young person's social worker.
Young people must be made aware of the limits to confidentiality when they move to Supported Accommodation. Young people must be aware that providers have a duty to share information where it is assessed that the young person is at risk, or the young person is putting others at risk.
Providers should have a policy and protocol on entering young people's rooms and under what circumstances a member of staff will enter a young person's room. All staff and young people should be fully aware of the 'entering a young person's room' policy and protocol.
17. Equality and Diversity
Supported Accommodation Provider organisations should have equality and diversity policies that address how they will avoid discrimination on the grounds of gender, class, religion, belief, culture, race, language, sexuality and sexual orientation. In addition, the policy should set out how the organisation and staff will promote a positive identity of 'care' and being a 'care leaver' and how they will challenge the often negative stereotypes and perceptions of those in, and leaving care.
18. Meeting Cultural and Linguistic Needs
Supported Accommodation Provider organisations should have staff who are able to understand and meet the cultural and linguistic needs of young people placed with them. This is particularly important where organisations are providing placements for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children, but is equally important for all young people. Similarly, provider staff should have sufficient literacy skills to ensure that they can support young people with education activities, form filling and written tasks appropriate to the transition to adulthood.
19. Transporting Young People
In circumstances where Supported Accommodation Providers transport young people the following requirements must be observed:
- Vehicles must have a valid MOT, be roadworthy at the time of use and have a current Road Vehicle License (Tax);
- Drivers must hold a Full Driving License and have Fully Comprehensive Business Use Insurance; both must be relevant to the category of vehicle used to transport the young person.
20. Anti-Smoking Policy
All Supported Accommodation Providers should have an Anti-Smoking Policy that sets out the providers approach to discouraging smoking which includes:
- Having a designated smoking area outside of the individual supported accommodation;
- Ensuring staff do not smoke in the presence of young people;
- Promoting the positive health benefits of non smoking;
- Promoting strategies for helping young people to give up smoking.
21. Anti-Bullying Policy
All Supported Accommodation Providers should have an Anti-Bullying Policy that sets out the providers approach to discouraging and dealing with incidence of bullying that includes:
- Developing staff awareness and understanding of bullying;
- Understanding cyber bullying;
- Dealing with incidence of bullying;
- Helping young people to understand bullying and its implications;
- Helping young people to be assertive and disclose bullying;
- Promoting awareness of organisations and services that can support those being bullied.
22. Anti-Substance Misuse Policy
All Supported Accommodation Providers should have an Anti-Substance Misuse Policy that sets out the providers approach to discouraging and dealing with substance misuse that includes:
- Prompting knowledge (amongst staff and young people) of the effects of alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs and other substances that can be misused;
- Awareness of agencies and services that can help young people deal with substance misuse and its effects;
- Promoting strategies to assist young people avoid substance misuse.
23. Promoting Positive Health Policy
All Supported Accommodation Providers should have a Promoting Positive Health Awareness Policy that encompasses their anti-smoking and anti-substance misuse approach, as well as how the providers promotes general health and well-being including positive nutrition, health awareness, sexual health, dental, optical and hearing awareness.
24. Access to Files - Young People
All Supported Accommodation Providers should hold copies of Hertfordshire's' Access to Records Leaflet and provide information to young people on the process of accessing their records.
All Supported Accommodation Providers should have a policy on how young people can access the records that they hold about the young people.
All case files must be returned to Hertfordshire County Council. The young person's case record must be kept until the 75th anniversary of his or her date of birth, or 15 years from the date of death in the case of a young person who dies before reaching the age of 18.
25. Missing Policies and Procedures
Young people living in Supported Accommodation have generally been assessed as capable of living in a semi-independent setting and as such, are able and required to take a high degree of responsibility for themselves, as part of their transition to adulthood and preparing for independent living. Therefore, young people should be able to take a significant degree of self responsibility with appropriate guidance. Young people, in principle are expected to live at the Supported Accommodation and reside overnight on a full time, seven day/night per week basis. However, if young people are staying away from their Supported Accommodation on an occasional basis they should seek permission from their social worker (Hertfordshire County Council) and the provider. Young people should provide an address and contact details in order that a risk assessment can be undertaken and permission given. This is required to ensure all 16 and 17 year olds are safeguarded and their whereabouts are known.
26. Supported Accommodation Providers - Missing Policy
Policies and protocols relating to young people who are 'Missing' generally set out three key definitions in terms of young people who are absent from a placement without permission and who may be missing:
- Unauthorised Absence;
- Missing Child (Young Person).
Supported Accommodation Providers should develop a 'Missing and Absence' policy regarding how they monitor young people placed with them.
The Policy should set out:
- What time young people are expected to return to the accommodation;
- Signing young people in and out of the accommodation (also required for health and safety and fire monitoring procedures);
- A process for assessing whether a young person who is not present in the accommodation is 1) an unauthorised absence, 2) an absconder, 3) or a missing child;
- The policy must set out a start point/time for implementing a process to decide which of the above (1, 2 or 3) applies to an individual young person. For example, young people should always have a time when they are expected to 'check in' or be at the accommodation on a daily basis;
- The policy needs to be flexible, but precise regarding a 'check-in' point, particularly where young people are living in independent accommodation and receive weekly out-reach support;
- Where young people are 'checking in', their well-being must be verified, i.e. text messages must be verified by phone contact;
- Prior to formally reporting the young person as missing every effort should be made to contact the young person via known contacts such as workers and professionals, friends, family, school/college or work;
- Where Provider staff have any concerns regarding a young person who is absent from the placement and there are any risks/issues regarding the young person (both to the young person and others) it may be appropriate to report them missing immediately;
- Provider staff should contact their manager, the young person's social worker, the nominated Hertfordshire County Council worker (or duty contact), the Hertfordshire County Council Emergency Duty Team and consult their policy & protocol if they require advice, guidance or have any concerns.
When a young person moves to the supported accommodation a record of friends, family and key contacts (with contact details) should be made and an up-to-date photograph placed on file. In circumstances where the young person is missing, staff should contact the relevant friends, family and key contacts and where necessary the photograph should be provided to the police. Young people should be made aware of the process that will be followed should they 'go missing'. Any incident of a young person 'going missing' must be notified to their social worker and the responsible authority named contact.
Supported Accommodation Providers must hold copies of Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures Manual, Children Missing from Care or Home Protocol HSCP and comply with all elements of the Policy and Protocol (placements and accommodation within Hertfordshire).
Where young people are placed outside of Hertfordshire, the Supported Accommodation Provider must hold copies of the Local Authority Policy and Protocol for the given area on 'Missing Children' and comply with all elements of the Policy and Protocol.
Supported Accommodation Providers Missing Policies will need to recognise the type of supported accommodation or independent accommodation and the level of on-site support or floating support being provided.
27. Preparation for Adulthood and Independence
The primary task of the Supported Accommodation Provider is to assist young people to develop practical, emotional, relationship, resilience and financial skills to achieve a successful transition from care to independent living, within a safe caring framework.
See Hertfordshire County Council - 'Preparation for Independence and Pathway Planning Checklist' workbook - to follow.
28. Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes
Outcomes and targets should be grouped under the Every Child Matters headings:
- Be healthy;
- Stay Safe;
- Enjoy and achieve;
- Make a positive contribution;
- Achieve economic well-being.
The information below is provided as a guide for providers developing their outcomes framework.
29. Health and Development
When young people first move to Supported Accommodation, providers should ensure young people are registered with a:
In addition, providers should ensure young people are aware of the location of the nearest:
- Accident and emergency unit;
- NHS walk-in health centre;
- Sexual health facility/clinic;
- Alcohol, drug and substance misuse service;
- Services related to mental health and emotional well-being;
- One-stop information service.
and understand how to access these services and the benefits they can provide.
30. Positive Activities
Providers should support young people to identify and take part in leisure, volunteering, education, training and employment and other activities and opportunities aimed at improving young people's self-esteem, confidence and economic well-being.
31. Key Principles Underpinning Preparation for Independence and the Transition to Adulthood Life Skills Work
- Preparation for independence and the transition to adulthood programmes must focus on the strengths of young people and progress at a pace that suits the young person and should identify the timescale that is required to make a successful transition to adulthood;
- Preparation for independence should include the views of young people and enhance and improve the life chances of young people in, and leaving care;
- Preparation for independence is not a distinct phase; small tasks and steps should be undertaken from the point of being 'looked after';
- Appropriate care planning, pathway planning and leaving care services are based on robust assessments, knowledge of available services and partnership approaches;
- Individual preparation for independence programmes, leaving care assessments and pathway plans while being flexible, should highlight the tasks that need to be achieved and the role that providers, social workers, leaving care personal advisers, family members, partner agencies, such as education, health, housing, schools and colleges will play;
- Programmes should highlight tasks and expectations of young people and allow sufficient time to work at the young person's pace;
- A broad range of tools, resources and methods for working with young people should be available to enable a creative and flexible approach;
- Preparation for Independence programmes should address issues of health and development, education, training and employment, practical and emotional skills, placement and accommodation needs, relationships, community organisations and support networks and financial and budgeting skills;
- Preparation for Independence programmes should address particular needs arising from issues of gender, class, sexuality, race, culture, religion, linguistic background and disability;
- Preparation for Independence programmes, leaving care assessments and pathway plans should aim to empower young people taking account of gradual learning and that tasks can be revisited;
- Particular attention should be paid to the types of placements young people live in and how these may impact on their pathway plan and preparation for independence.
32. Compliments, Comments and Complaints
Supported Accommodation Providers should develop a Compliments, Comments and Complaints Policy Framework that covers how they will manage:
- Complaints from young people;
- Comments and concerns raised by young people and professionals;
- Compliments from young people and professionals;
- Gathering young people's feedback;
- Ensuring feedback regarding young people's views to the responsible authority.
33. Reviews of Providers
Supported Accommodation Providers will be subject to an annual review and/or a review following a 'notifiable' event, or a major concern being raised.
Reviews will involve staff from:
- Children's Commissioning;
- Adult's Commissioning - Accommodation Solutions;
- Case holding teams.
and will involve consultation with local police liaison officers and district/borough council housing and environmental health/public sector housing officers.
Where necessary, safeguarding staff and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) will be involved in the review.
Where reviews take place of semi-independent accommodation units or providers located outside of Hertfordshire, consultation will also take place with the local Children's Services, in addition to staff and agencies listed above.
34. Provider Policy Document Requirements - Inspections
34.1 Provider Policy Document Requirements - Inspections
34.2 Young Persons Case File Checklist
Click here to view this checklist - link to follow
34.3 Recruitment, Vetting and Staff File Inspection Checklist
Click here to view this checklist - link to follow
35. What to do if you have Concerns about Private and Registered Providers
This procedure is to advise a professional from any agency on how to report concerns about a private or registered provider see CSPrivate and Registered Provider Concerns - to follow.
For this purpose the Private and Registered Provider Concerns form - to follow should be used.