A CENTRE for vulnerable families in Coventry has gone seven months without an appointed manager, watchdog Ofsted has discovered.
Dudley Lodge, which accommodates up to 12 families at risk of child neglect or abuse, was found to have its management in turmoil, despite an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted.
‘High workloads’ were identified by an Ofsted inspector as the reason for the £3.5 million charity not having a registered leader since September 2019.
The courts and social services refer families to stay at the lodge in Warwick Road, to receive guidance and support in raising children.
This year, a complaint from a mother over ‘staff practice’ led to a change in her case worker, but inspectors were satisfied the acting manager had supported her as an intermediary.
In addition to parents’ worries, in March this year inspectors were called after visitors flagged concerns about understaffing and low morale.
In November, a member of staff was fired for ‘failing to disclose significant information,’ which the Ofsted inspector described as ‘swift action.’
The children’s services watchdog praised former manager Natasha Skinner in 2018 for her work to ‘drive up standards,’ describing her as ‘passionate and aspirational.’
Since the departure of Dudley Lodge’s registered manager in September, the centre’s senior team ‘changed the management model’ to ensure they could appoint a leader.
Responding to the findings following Ofsted’s report, co-chief executive of Dudley Lodge Carly Davis said: “The report confirms we have a new registered manager starting next month.
“Natasha Skinner, the previous Registered Manager left Dudley Lodge for a new career path in January, whilst we were sad to see her go, we used the time and opportunity to restructure our senior management team. Ofsted commented “This new model is now in place and is having a positive impact on the staff team and the effectiveness of the service”.
“Since September 2019 Carly Davis (Co-Chief Executive) has taken on the acting role of the registered manager. Carly has worked for Dudley Lodge for over 20 years and previously held the registered Manager role at Bonner House. Carly has thoroughly enjoyed being back involved in the more operational side of Dudley Lodge, supporting the team through a period of navigating our way through the challenges of COVID19 and recruiting a new Registered Manager.
“We are delighted that the report emphasises improved staff morale, swift responses to staffing issues and parent dissatisfaction’s. The report highlighted “Staff feel listened to and supported”. Further, Ofsted confirmed that a complaint from a resident was dealt with appropriately and the parent had made positive comments about both the staff and the assessment experience.
“We want to extend our thanks to all of our committed staff team who continue to provide an ‘outstanding’ service for our families.”
They said a new permanent registered leader is set to start from May 2020.
Ofsted added it could not send an inspector to visit Dudley Lodge in person last month owing to the coronavirus pandemic.