The Amicus community would like to assure our children, their families, and external agencies that we prioritise quality, therapeutic care, and education, and the children’s emotional development and wellbeing. The best way we can fulfil that assurance is by regularly monitoring, reviewing, and assessing the quality of our services and therapeutic treatment. The Amicus Community complies with the regulations of three main bodies to ensure quality control and assurance, and the inclusion of independent audits, these bodies are Department of Education Children’s Homes Regulations (2015) and Quality Standards, The Community of Communities accreditation, and OFSTED regulations. These are followed alongside our own tight, quality control measures.
Children’s homes Regulations (2015)
The Amicus Community adheres to The Children’s Homes Regulations (2015) and the Quality Standards for Children’s Homes. We regularly review and monitor our service and practices in accordance with the regulations and as part of this complete a review of the quality of care provided for children at least every 6 months, this report is then shared with our host authorities and Ofsted. The experiences of network professionals are gains as well as the children’s experiences in the community, and the impact that is being made on the outcomes for the children.
Our Review is based on the nine Quality Standards, which are as follows:
- The quality and purpose of care standard (see regulation 6)
- The children’s views, wishes, and feelings standard (see regulation 7) 3. The education standard (see regulation 8)
- The enjoyment and achievement standard (see regulation 9)
- The health and well-being standard (see regulation 10)
- The positive relationships standard (see regulation 11) 7. The protection of children standard (see regulation 12)
- The leadership and management standard (see regulation 13)
- The care planning standard (see regulation 14)
For more details of these please follow the link to the Department of Education ‘Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations including the quality standards April 2015’.
Community of Communities (Royal College of Psychiatrists)
The Community of Communities conducts an annual Peer Review of the Amicus Community and a 3 yearly accreditation review, to evaluate its effectiveness and help maintain a high quality of therapeutic practice. We see this as a vital part of our quality control because this is when our therapeutic practice is assessed through self-reflection and with the involvement of the children, staff, families, and environment and we can receive feedback and recommendations and share best practice. We recognise our services are always developing and improvements are an important part of our growth as a community.
The homes in our organisation have at least yearly Ofsted inspections to comply with the Children’s Homes Regulations (2015) and our DfES registered independent SEN school has Ofsted inspections when at least three- yearly. Currently, both our homes and school are rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted.
Quality control and the Therapeutic Model and Input
Amicus is a children’s therapeutic community accredited by The Royal College of Psychiatrists and is an accredited and active member of the Community of Communities. The Community of Communities (C of C) is a quality improvement and accredita- tion programme for Therapeutic Communities in the UK and overseas. Our accreditation and work in accordance with this ther- apeutic framework supports us to meet the highest standards of therapeutic community practice through a process of self and peer review and allow for continuous performance to be measured.
Community of Communities is an initiative of the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI), working in partnership with The Consortium of Therapeutic Communities (TCTC) and the Planned Environment Therapy Trust (PETT).
We involve all members (children and staff) of our therapeutic community at Amicus in the service and evaluation and quality improvement. As part of our therapeutic model, we follow and adhere to the C of C core values which describe the principles and philosophy of therapeutic communities and the service standards which are democratically agreed within the network and identify and describer excellence in therapeutic community practice. Our accreditation as a therapeutic community provides evidence of quality and quality improvement for commissioners, senior managers, and those involved in supporting and work- ing with children.
The quality control of staff-new staff
Our HR and Service Manager along with line managers deals with personnel issues for the employees and leads recruitment and training of staff. The quality control starts from the moment of application, following then on to the interviews and shadow shift, where applicants will be assessed and feedback is given by both children, staff and managers and continues with thorough safety and reference checks before joining us. Staff have very clear job descriptions for their roles and are also expected to follow the Therapeutic Practitioner Competencies within their practice. Each member of staff has an initial induction month which includes training on, Child Protection and Safeguarding, First Aid, Medication and Physical Intervention training, training and guidance on our therapeutic method, culture and theory bases and spending time in the home and school to become familiar with the staff’s duties and the home and school culture, routines, structures, regulations, working practices and policies, and procedures. During this month, the staff also attend seminar groups on therapeutic practice, child development, therapeutic community theory and practice, attachment theory, systemic theory, group dynamics and relations, and family work.
How our staff are supported with delivering ongoing quality of care
The Head of Therapeutic Practice oversees that the therapeutic model and practice is adhered to, implemented, and evidenced in the homes and school and that this is fed into the children’s Therapeutic Placement Plans and outcomes. They will support managers and staff in developing their therapeutic practice, understanding, and knowledge. Within the community, there are weekly team meetings and regular management meetings, both of a clinical and operational focus. Each member of staff has regular both individual Line Management and Clinical Supervision at least monthly. They are also part of group supervision spaces in Clinical Case Discussions / Meeting and Group Process Meetings. The clinical meetings allow for staff to discuss the presentations of the children and explore and relate this to theory and how we would work with and support the child. The Group Process Meetings enable staff to reflect and discuss their feelings and emotions evoked through the work and their relationships with the children and dynamics that may be occurring with members of the team and their feelings and experiences towards and of each other. Staff are individually encouraged to attend their own personal therapy/ analysis. Staff are also able to share best practice and develop their knowledge and understanding with others working in this sector at network events, training, and conferences and by participating in Peer Reviews. Staff also have individual annual appraisals and can participate in work- study / discussion groups. Our regular specialised training and support structures ensure high standards and CPD for all staff.
The role of the Operations and Outreach Manager
The Operations and Outreach Manager monitors the quality of practice and recording in the home and school and ensures this is evidenced and triangulated, supporting the managers with this task. Examples of recorded items are Therapeutic Placement Plans, Daily Logs, children’s observations, children’s chronologies, risk assessments, physical interventions logs, rotas (planned and worked), fire logs, rewards, and sanctions (consequences and achievements & rewards), complaints logs, and the visitors’ books.
In addition, Amicus has the following methods to assure the quality of practice and monitoring takes place:
A clear organisational structure
The organisational structure ensures that the Amicus Community focuses on continuous improvement in quality management and in achieving the best therapeutic outcomes for children. There is a management structured hierarchy, and a culture consultation, openness, reflection and transparency are promoted, and staff and children are used to a cycle of observe-reflect-evaluate-develop. Clear areas of roles and responsibility by named staff provide accountability and ensure that delegated activity can be tracked and monitored.
All Monitoring and observation are recorded, and feedback is designed to inform practice development and training to extend the highest quality provision. All practice is objectively assessed, with the good practice being shared and evidenced and weaker practice improved. By regularly monitoring, moderating, and reporting, any patterns and trends can be identified which will impact our internal planning and strategic development. This ensures the provision is focused effectively on the individual children placed at the time and current child group.
The mechanisms used in The Amicus Community include regular data collection, analysis, and reporting; robust processes for routine service provision; well-managed properties and environment, outcomes, and progress for children; regular intervals; commitment to continuous improvement; compliance to therapeutic and regulatory service standards and the management of sustainable staffing levels.
Effective service delivery is sustained through internal case reviews of Therapeutic Placement Plans (including Care Plans, EHCPs, risk assessments, Health Plans, and daily routine/ individualised therapeutic days). Regular consultations with external specialists and our Amicus Advisory Board, in both therapeutic and clinical input, education, safeguarding, finance, and business/ strategic development. And consultation and guidance from our experienced Directors, practice observations by the Senior Leadership and Management team, and staff peer reflections.
To ensure high-quality practice we follow integrated provision and planning with education management. This involves regular contact and discussion with parents and carers (where appropriate), Social Workers, and other Placing Authority Professionals as appropriate, to keep them informed of the child’s progress and informally review this, in addition to regular formal CLA and AER reviews.