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Staff shortage at Inverness child care centre led to inspector helping evacuate children during fire alarm

By Neil MacPhail

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Cauldeen School.
Cauldeen School.

AN inspector checking an Inverness day care centre had to help evacuate children when the fire alarm went off due to insufficient staff being on duty, a report has revealed.

The inspection of Highland Council’s Butterfly Rooms attached to Cauldeen Primary School, in Hilton, also led to concern over the safe management of children’s medication.

The centre, that supports pre-school children with additional support needs, was rated “unsatisfactory” in quality of staffing and management and leadership by the Care Inspectorate.

The children’s care and support was given a “weak” rating, and the centre’s environment was “adequate.”

The inspection found the staff were nurturing, kind and caring, but also identified concerns around staffing arrangements which “negatively impacted children’s experiences and outcomes”.

The report said: “The majority of staff were bank or temporary staff. This meant children were not provided with a consistent level of care.

“Recruitment of temporary staff was based on their availability rather than their skills and experience. Staff frequently did not have prior knowledge and experience of working with children with complex needs and, due to their temporary position, they were not provided with relevant training.

“Insufficient staffing levels did not effectively meet the needs of children and impacted on their safety and wellbeing.

“During the inspection, the fire alarm sounded and one of the inspectors had to help with evacuating children safely as there was insufficient staff to support all the children.”

The report added: “Staff explained that there were missed opportunities for supporting children’s development as they did not have enough staff to undertake work that required one-to-one support.

“The services child protection policies and procedures were ineffective, resulting in potential risks to children.”

Regarding medication, the report stated: “Clear plans detailing children’s health needs were not in place, written parental consent to administer medication was considerably out of date. This meant there were inconsistencies and a lack of understanding regarding the health needs of the children and this placed children at risk.”

Highland Council has written to parents and carers of young people at the centre following the inspection report.

The letter pointed out that staff were seen to be nurturing and caring and that children were well supported by staff ensuring a positive and caring experience.

In a statement, the council acknowledged there were some significant requirements for improvement which it has been working to address since the inspection.

The statement added: “These included reviewing and updating personal care plans, medical protocols, and appointing staff on a permanent basis, rather than temporary contracts.

“Since the visit, we have worked hard to meet all these requirements within the given timeline and new staff have been appointed and are in place to start from this session.”

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