Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 18:29 UK

Care of young 'needs improvement'

Anonymous children
The report said there were many examples of good practice

More than half of Scotland's residential care services for young people need to make improvements, according to the care regulator.

The Care Commission report said while there were many examples of good practice, improvements were needed in training and assessment methods.

The report looked at child protection, planning for care and the use of physical restraint.

The local council body COSLA said it had not had time to study the details.

A spokesman said: "Local government is well aware of the importance of high-quality residential and secure accommodation.

"This is why local government, the Scottish Government and other partners are starting work on an initiative which will look at how residential and secure accommodation meets the needs of vulnerable young people."

The Care Commission said the picture across Scotland was "patchy".

It found that 52% of services needed to improve at least one of the three areas under review.

It said there was a need for better staff training, that no accurate national picture existed of the use of physical restraint, and that concerns remained that young people may feel unable to complain freely about services.

'Difficult job'

Director of children's services Ronnie Hill said: "Caring for children and young people in residential care is one of the most difficult jobs in social care.

"The challenges facing residential care staff should not be underestimated and they need good support to do their job well."

He said that services had been acting on the recommendations made in the inspection reports.


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He added: "Organisations providing services, and senior managers, have a vital role in setting the tone and culture of residential care services.

"Local authorities who place young people in care need to ensure that accurate assessments and proper care planning is in place.

"Staff also need to have confidence and skill in finding ways that will help to calm down young people and avoid the need for restraint."

In 2006-07, the Care Commission took formal enforcement action on two residential special schools because of concerns over the safety of young people. The schools subsequently made the improvements required.

Figures for March 2006 show that these services were providing 2,418 places for young people - 1,250 in care homes, 1,041 in residential special schools and 127 in secure accommodation.

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