Children with learning and physical disabilities receive “safe and exceptionally caring” services in Oxfordshire

Inspectors say young people with learning and physical disabilities in Oxfordshire receive a “safe and exceptionally caring services” from Oxfordshire County Council’s Children’ social care team.

The Care Quality Commission inspected the Young People and Families part of the council’s children’s social care team earlier this year and concluded that the service was “good” overall and outstanding in “caring”.

Glowing report

Councillor Steve Harrod, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “This is a glowing report that reflects very well on a hard working team whose work often goes unsung.

“Children’s social care is often thought about in terms of young people who have had difficult upbringings and have had to be brought in to care. However in some cases it is about children with health or learning disabilities who live at home with their parents and need constant care.

“The team we have who care for these children often become almost a part of the family of the child they are caring for, visiting the family home very often and helping the parents care for their child. The outcome of the inspection shows once more than the standard of children’s social care in Oxfordshire is very high.”

The report from the CQC said “We received positive feedback from parents and professionals on how staff had developed caring relationships with children and young people. Parents said their child or young person looked forward to seeing staff, which we saw evidence of during the inspection.

“One parent told us: "The staff are absolutely brilliant." Staff supported the same children and young people in order to provide regular consistent care and support. We heard of many examples of where staff went over and above what was expected of them to ensure children and young people were safe, comfortable and enjoyed the time they spent with staff.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s overall rating from Ofsted for the whole of children’s social care from is “good” – which is has been awarded after the past three visits by inspectors.

The best job in the world

Lucy Durnin is a Flexible Support Worker in Oxfordshire County Council’s Children and Families Care Team. She said: “We’re so pleased with the inspection outcome. I have the best job in the world. I get to go in and support people of crisis but also at great points of positivity in their lives and it is very rewarding. The small moments, smiles and laughter can be rewarding.

“My day usually involves getting up very early and visiting a family to support them to get a child up out of bed, washed and ready for school. I often prepare their breakfasts. We work with children who have autism, learning difficulties and complex medical issues, which can place additional pressures on families. Some children need to uses tubes to eat and drink and others cannot communicate verbally.

“Later in the day we will often be picking up children after school or from school take out for a couple of hours to take part in activities that help them feel part of the communities in which they live. That can be swimming or even just feeding the ducks.

“It’s all about helping children who may need extra support or who may struggle to get more familiar with their community and surroundings and get comfort and enjoyment. Later in the evening, we can be helping a child get changed and ready for bed and perhaps cooking dinner. Sometimes we’ll help put a child to bed.

“We see families in their daily routines in very personal moments and we have to make ourselves part of that routine, whilst remaining professional and not being intrusive. Once we are in that situation nobody feels awkward. It’s very important that families feel at ease with us, so we need to build relationships with both the child and their family.

“One of the key things about my job is to learn the little sounds and noises a child who cannot speak may make, to express joy and happiness or other emotions. It’s always good to know that they are happy about something even if they cannot say so.

“To communicate with children who cannot talk we often use text, pictures, objects of reference or sign language – but the little sounds they can make are just as important as observing their expressions and body language. Gradually we are able to give children a measure of independence. Many of them have very little of that because they depend so much on people. It can even be something simple like letting them decide what clothes they are going to wear that day.

“Those moments of joy are priceless – that is why I have the best job even though if often involves working when most other people are at home with their own families. Whether I work at Christmas this year will depend on whether we have a family who request this or need that support.”