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Flintshire Council struggling to recruit staff to new children’s care homes

FLINTSHIRE Council has faced challenges in recruiting staff to its new children’s care homes which are due to open this year.

Having not provided in-house residential care for children for around three decades, the authority opted to establish and run its own children’s care homes a few years ago as part of its ‘Care Closer to Home’ strategy.

As well as keeping children within the county and their local community, the strategy will also save the council money on out of county placements.

The council’s social and healthcare overview committee is due to receive an update on the progress of the facilities ahead of their openings at various stages throughout the year.

In 2021, plans were approved to create a home at the former Tŷ Nyth care home building in Mold, and this is due to open in May.

According to the report, Tŷ Nyth has been designed to support the safe and appropriate reunification of looked after children from care to family.

The service can also support young people to move from residential care to foster placements. The home can support up to four children at any one time.

Flintshire was previously awarded £500,000 by the Welsh Government to buy Ty Nyth.

Y Dderwen is due to open in June, designed as a long-term modern home for looked after children.

A registration application has been submitted to CIW (Care Inspectorate Wales) for Y Dderwen and the council is awaiting determination.

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Another facility Mesen Fach is due to open in September. This is a ‘crisis’ flat that has been designed to offer short term emergency support to children.

Mesen Fach is to be annexed to Tŷ Nyth with its own separate entrance. One child at a time can be supported at Mesen Fach and the home will have its own registration and operate separately from Tŷ Nyth. However, management oversight and leadership will be provided by the manager and deputy manager at Tŷ Nyth, according to the report.

It is a grant funded partnership venture between Flintshire as the host, Wrexham Council and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Two small group homes in the county are also set to open in April and August, one in Mold and the other in Shotton.

The report to members states that candidates to fill vacancies have been thin on the ground, but the council has managed to recruit staff from adult services.

“Recruiting to all posts has been a challenge”, the report states.

“As we have not run our own Children’s Homes for at least three decades we do not have a supply of candidates experienced in working in Children’s Homes.

“Positively, we have managed to recruit a small number of staff from within Adult Services, primarily with extensive experience in supporting young adults with learning disabilities.

“This cohort of staff have brought skills, insight and knowledge from that service area. However, the position is that we have had to seek to recruit from within a very competitive and vibrant workforce market.

“On the whole recruitment has been, and remains, a challenge and a risk for the programme. Initial progress in recruiting to all posts was slow but has picked up pace, particularly since the new year.”

The report adds: “Our current position is that by the end of March 2023 we will have sufficient workforce for Tŷ Nyth, Y Dderwen, and one small group home.

“The residual vacancies within those establishments are for the three senior residential care worker posts.

“Recruitment initiatives continue to ensure the recruitment of two senior residential care workers and 13 residential care staff for Mesen Fach and one other small group.

“To date, three relief staff have been recruited and that number will need to be scaled up as the provisions come on stream.”

The council’s social and healthcare scrutiny committee will meet to discuss the report on Thursday (March 2).