Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children’s social care services

The
independent visitor has an important safeguarding role for children,
when their access to other independent people may be limited.
Independent visitors can still carry out their
visits on site, if they are able to, and can safely practice social
distancing. The
change
to regulation 44 of the Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015

provides greater flexibility during this period, where this is
necessary. This amendment means that providers should
use reasonable endeavours to ensure that an independent person visits
the children’s home at least once each month. This means technology may
be used to carry out the visit virtually without going to the home in
person. When a safeguarding concern has been
identified, there must be a balance between following Public Health
England guidance and safeguarding children’s welfare, which may include
an actual visit.

The regulation change also recognises that in some circumstances, visits
may not happen in the usual timeframe. Where this is the case,
registered providers and registered managers should think carefully
about what this means for their service and try to ensure
that the next visit is at the earliest opportunity. Providers must be
able to demonstrate what reasonable efforts they have made to facilitate
such a visit.

As the DfE guidance sets out, the visit should continue to cover the
aspects set out in regulation, including speaking to children and their
families as far as is reasonably practicable, and come to a conclusion
that the children are effectively safeguarded
and their wellbeing is being promoted. It is not sufficient to only
have a discussion with the manager as part of an independent visit. This
does not meet the requirements of the regulation

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children’s social care services

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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