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Tarvit Cottage: Fife care service for vulnerable youngsters closes down after damning inspection

Tarvit Cottage near Cupar
Tarvit Cottage near Cupar

A Fife care home has closed its doors after a damning report by an industry watchdog for its support of a vulnerable youngster.

Tarvit Cottage, near Cupar, opened in 2017 as a care home for people aged 10 to 18.

It was operated by Carolina House Trust, a provider of fostering and continuing care services

A Care Inspectorate report found all aspects of the service to be either ‘weak’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ following the unannounced visit in June.

Placement caused youngster distress

It said that the placement of a young female at the residential cottage had caused her distress – rather than helping and supporting her.

Fife police officers had been required to restrain the youngster on a number of occasions, the report said.

Inspectors said staff were “unable to keep the female safe”, and ultimately she had to be removed from the Cupar placement.

The girl was described as having “complex needs” in the report.

It said: “Staff spent time with the young person and listened to their views, however, they were not able to keep them safe.

“From the onset of the placement, the young person was verbalising and demonstrating that they did not feel safe.

There was a huge reliance on Police Scotland to keep the youngster safe… including restraint

“Staff actions, though consistent and ongoing, did not provide the intensity of support the young person needed to feel emotionally or physically safe.

“There was a huge reliance on Police Scotland to keep the young person safe, both in the house and in the community, including restraint.

“This exacerbated the young person’s distress and [the use of restraint] was contrary to the aims of the placement.”

It was noted that Fife Council had not been informed of the girl’s move to Tarvit Cottage.

Arrangements for her stay, including proper mental health support and planning for her education, had also not been set up properly, prior to the placement.

Staff did not have specialist training or skills

Social workers had told a court hearing prior to the placement that “a number of safeguards” were needed to protect the youngster.

But it was found that staff “did not have the very specialist training or skills to meet the girl’s needs”.

Staffing was rated as ‘weak’ by inspectors, although they said employees “worked hard, were kind and well-motivated”.

“They understood the importance of key relationships and of relational care as a foundation to helping young people make progress,” the report also said.

Our staff were focused on the needs of this young person at all times

It was also noted that no support plan had been set up for the youngster’s stay – and planning was rated ‘weak’.

The Care Inspectorate concluded that more detailed assessments need to be made prior to any young person being placed at Tarvit Cottage, to assess their suitability for a stay.

Inspectors also put requirements in place for staff training, as well as risk assessments and personal plans.

‘Results very disappointing’

Joy Anderson, head of support services for Carolina House Trust, said previous inspections had returned good results for the home.

She continued: “The results of this inspection are therefore very disappointing.

“The inspection focused on a very short period of time, around 10 days, when one young person was in our care. The young person was not interviewed as part of the inspection process.

“The service focused on providing therapeutic care for young people.

“The decision to bring the young person referred to in the report into the cottage was based on the information provided to us at that time by the placing local authority, who made the decision that this was the right resource to meet the needs of the young person.

Home shut down in light of inspection

“Our staff were focused on the needs of this young person at all times.

“It was incredibly disappointing that the manager had to make the decision to end the placement, but our primary concern was ensuring the young person’s ongoing safety.

“As an organisation focused on continuous improvement, we acknowledge that there were areas for improvement moving forward with our residential service.

“In view of the challenging social care environment resulting in a lack of suitable referrals from local authorities, and in light of the outcome of this inspection, the board in July 2021 took the difficult decision to close and subsequently de-register this service with the Care Inspectorate.”

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