Barnardo’s Care Home Slammed By Report

A number of serious incidents in which injuries were suffered by disabled children in a Barnardo’s respite care home were probed in the wake of a government watchdog inspection.

According to a scathing report into the Cherry Lodge Residential Respite Care home in Randalstown, details emerged of a number of incidents at the home that involved injuries suffered by vulnerable children WITHOUT their parents being told.

The review panel, commissioned by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, slated the home’s record in its reporting procedures involving child protection issues.

The home closed down in January this year and has recently re-opened under new management, under direction of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

The review of the former Barnardo’s was itself triggered by injuries suffered by a teenage girl at the home in June 2006 – which are still subject of a file being considered by the Public Prosecution Service.

The review found that staff failed to recognise and report, in line with the procedures, the injuries suffered by the teenager.

And it said that the reporting procedures had also failed on other occasions.

In one instance a risk assessment that a young person had exhibited ” inappropriate sexualised behaviour” that could put other children at risk was not properly noted.

The report added that a small number other children were involved in incidents where their injuries were not reported to either parents or medical professionals, and that information crucial to protecting specific children had not been shared.

In summing up how the risk to children at the home was assessed and managed, the report concluded: “There was a lack of co-ordination in analysing and managing risk by Barnardo’s, Homefirst Trust and professional staff allied to the Trust.

“Although systems and structure were in place for monitoring how risk was managed, evidence from the cases we reviewed did not show that Cherry Lodge management, Barnardo’s senior management, Homefirst Trust, or the NHSSB were taking actions to assure the quality of these systems and structures.”

The report also revealed that inspectors had been told that Barnardo’s management had “suppressed” concerns – raised BEFORE the June 2006 incident – that a staffing crisis was leaving vulnerable children at risk.

Said the report: “One of our most significant findings was that some Cherry Lodge staff reported that they believed that Barnardo’s management suppressed or sidestepped, or ignored, their concerns about unsafe practices in Cherry Lodge and poor standards of care.”

It added that if Barnardo’s management had acted, then the risk of the June 2006 incident happening would have been reduced, and the response to the incident would have been better managed.

The report stressed that many parents and health professionals had praised the home – which has re-opened under the direct control of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, under a new manager – during its inquiry.

However, one parent who removed his daughter from the facility over concerns about Cherry Lodge said that a raft of recommendations made by the RQIA were not enough to convince him to use the facility, despite the changes in management.

Dermod Ryder told Sunday Life: “There was incompetence in the way that place was run and that was completely concealed from us (parents).

“People can make recommendations, but it is the implementation of those recommendations that is crucial.”

He added: “And, at every stage of that report, it was clear that previous recommendations were not being followed and even statutory regulations were not met.”