Dickson House Children’s Home, managed by Doncaster Deaf Trust, underwent a Quality Assurance visit by Ofsted as part of a phased return to routine inspection, since all inspections in March were suspended due to Covid-19.
The two-day inspection evaluated care practices at the home and how it has adapted these throughout the pandemic to ensure that children are well cared for, safe and that staff are exercising strong leadership.
Dickson House, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted for the last three years, provides residential care 52 weeks of the year for school children needing weekly or term-time accommodation while they study at Doncaster School for the Deaf if it’s too far for them to travel from home each day.
The children and young people, who are aged between 10 and 17 but can stay until 18 if with the school full time, come from all over the country with current students from places as far as London and Wales.
The report found that children were well cared for by staff who advocate for Deaf culture in a calm, settled home environment, and are able to form meaningful relationships with staff and peers. As most children returned home to family during the pandemic, staff held regular video calls to help maintain relationships and ensure they felt supported. Those who continued to live at the home during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown also used video calls to connect with families and friends.
Effective use of technology has continued to support staff and children by enabling regular communication with health professionals through video consultations in the time of lockdown, and as restrictions have eased, staff can now support children to attend health appointments.
Findings also showed that staff promote good hygiene and social distancing, helping children to understand their risks and vulnerabilities and follow children’s individualised safety plans to safeguard children.
Kate Warner, registered care manager at Dickson House, said: “We’re thrilled to have received such a positive assessment outcome following such a turbulent year for everyone. We aim to give each young person an individually designed care programme, so that they feel supported and can develop both their skills and potential.
“We also endeavour to provide a stimulating, positive, safe environment both physically and mentally through our team of experienced staff who continually undergo training to strengthen their knowledge. It is our goal to ensure that children feel truly at home here and have everything they need to feel very safe and well cared for.”
The Dickson House accommodation has space for up to nine deaf children who sometimes also have other sensory impairments. The house is a large six bedded family home in the grounds of Doncaster Deaf Trust, with an additional three-bed flat also available. Dickson House has a variety of spacious communal areas including a playroom with access to computers and games, a TV lounge, dining room, kitchen and a garden. The young residents also have access to a wide range of facilities that are available on site such as six acres of playing fields, as well as football pitches, tennis courts and a sports hall.