A CHILDREN'S care home in Kilwinning has been branded "weak" by an industry watchdog.

The Care Inspectorate (CI) says that "unstable" care was provided at the Canmore facility in Kilwinning.

Inspectors made an unannounced visit to the home on February 20 and 21 and have published their findings this week.

They inspected only one category, the quality of support for children and young people's rights and wellbeing - and judged it to be 'weak', the second lowest grading available.

The service, run by the North Ayrshire health and social care partnership (HSCP), is currently registered to provide care to a maximum of eight children and young people.

But the watchdog said it had noticed overcrowding on the visit to the Redstone Avenue facility, with nine young people present during their visit.

The inspectors' report says the service was "not an appropriate care setting" for all of the young people that lived there.

It added: "Young people experienced unstable care and poor outcomes.

"Staffing levels and ratios did not reflect the number of young people in the service or meet their individual needs."

Some strengths were identified from the visit, with the inspection team commending staff for their efforts despite challenging circumstances.

The report continued: "We saw evidence of warm and nurturing relationships and, despite difficult circumstances, concerted efforts by staff to provide individual time and support to young people.

"The commitment and effort of staff and management have served to mitigate some of the potential poorer outcomes for young people.

"Young people within the house felt safe and experienced care that was respectful. One young person commented, 'There is always someone to speak to if needed. I feel looked after'."

But the inspectors said those positives were "compromised by significant weaknesses".

Their report continued: "We had concerns about the safety of the young people and staff within the service. It was clear that Canmore was not an appropriate care setting for all of the young people who lived there.

"The needs of some of the young people were too complex for the service to manage. There have been regular incidents where staff and other young people have been subjected to violence and been unsafe."

One staff member told the inspectors: "We can't keep (X) safe within this type of environment."

A family member also commented: "They (young people) have been failed by Canmore. There has been loads of problems...it is not fair on the kids."

The space provided at Canmore was also identified as a cause for concern.

The report stated: "The physical space within the service was not suitable for the number of young people living there. The living space has been utilised to accommodate additional young people.

"The service does not have control over the admission of new young people.

"We heard from young people, staff and family members that service overcapacity has been detrimental to young people's experiences.

"The house appeared institutional and in need of decoration and upgrade. Staff and managers are well aware of the need to improve this and there were clear plans in place to address this.

"These have not progressed due to the other more immediate priorities of the staff team in providing care and responding to the needs of the young people."

As a result of the inspection findings, the home and the HSCP will now be required to provide sufficient staffing levels and devise an admissions process by the end of June.

A spokesperson for the HSCP said: "We take the findings of the recent inspection extremely seriously and would like to provide reassurance that our utmost priority at this time is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the young people residing in Canmore Children’s House, as well as the safety and wellbeing of our staff.

“We strive to provide a warm, welcoming and safe environment for young people, while ensuring that our staff are fully supported in carrying out what can often be a challenging role.

“NAHSCP is fully committed to working in partnership with the Care Inspectorate to address the issues raised, and a robust action plan has been developed that will enable us to manage and rectify the concerns highlighted in the findings within the required timescale."

The partnership said they would continue to build on the positives identified in the report.

The spokesperson continued: “In addition, we will continue to build on the positive aspects of care mentioned in the report with regard to the nurturing relationships that our young people and their families enjoy with staff and the resultant impact that this has on our young people's mental health.

“We are also pleased that the Care Inspectorate has recognised that significant inroads have been made in terms of the culture and leadership within Canmore Children's House.

“As we move forward, and as part of our wide-reaching commitment to improving outcomes for all care experienced young people in North Ayrshire, we will work closely with our staff, partner agencies, and of course our young people and their families.”