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Monitoring standards in unregulated services

St Christopher’s has 150 years’ experience of providing safe, supportive homes for young people who are experiencing homelessness or unable to live with their families. Our semi-independent homes teach skills for life, build resilience and grow self-esteem.

Semi-independent homes in England are unregulated services. This means they are not legally required to be registered with or inspected by a regulatory body. In comparison, children’s homes are legally required to be registered with and inspected by Ofsted.

However, at St Christopher’s we inspect our semi-independent homes. We believe monitoring is important to hold providers to account and to ensure young people’s accommodation and support is of a high standard. Inspections help us to learn so that we can continually improve our service to young people.

We established our own annual independent inspections for our semi-independent services based on relevant leaving care inspection frameworks. These have been taking place for a number of years and include feedback from partners, local authorities and the young people living in the homes.

This year, to increase the inspection’s impact, a young person also took on the role of inspector. Tanya previously lived with St Christopher’s but now lives independently. She wanted to contribute towards making sure all young people have a safe place to live and the right support. Some of her observations include:

  • “I was really touched by the sharing of a capture memory and positive message with a young person when they have achieved. It is a small thing but must make such a big difference to someone’s life and is really thoughtful and must help the young person feel like they can achieve anything.”
  • “The strengths here are the staff team making the young people feel that they have a voice and are being listened to. They do this through having regular house meetings, having good relationships with individual young people where they get to know people well enough to advocate for them, and responding positively and promptly to complaints.”
  • “I was able to be open about my past and have a conversation about my own mental health without being prompted. It showed me that the staff team were easy to approach… I definitely felt welcomed and comfortable throughout my visit.”
  • “One of the things that struck me was how long the team had been working together. Many of them have been there for a long time and it shows in the way they interact and work together. I think this is really important to young people, as so many challenges can come out of change, getting to know someone and new relationships.”
  • “It was really good to hear about everything that the team here do to support young people after they have moved on… It is a real strength the way that you don’t just keep in touch but invite young people back for activities and to spend time in the home. I am starting to see that this is what all St Christopher’s homes want it to be like and I think it is really good.”

Tanya really enjoyed being the young inspector. Her views were given equal prominence and weighting in the inspection reports as those from the professional, showing how St Christopher’s value and respect what young people have to say.

'It was good to see how different each of the homes were as it helped me see that people wanted to make the homes right for young people who live in them right now and not just do it the way it always has been. I think the best part was hearing from young people and staff what a difference visiting made. I heard from staff that I helped inspire them and feel hopeful about the young people in the homes at the moment. And some of the young people I met shared that they felt motivated because of hearing from my experiences and they said they feel like they can do it, because they were seeing that I had.'
Tanya, young inspector

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our semi-independent 16+ services.