Outstanding Ofsted ratings for two short breaks children’s homes in Bedford

“We have always known how amazing they are – it’s nice that it is also recognised by Ofsted”
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Two respite care homes in Bedford have both been rated as Outstanding by Ofsted inspectors.

Sunflower House and Foxgloves provide short breaks for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Foxgloves, in Bromham Road, retained its Outstanding rating from its previous inspection in July 2022.

Staff at Sunflower House. Picture: Bedford Borough CouncilStaff at Sunflower House. Picture: Bedford Borough Council
Staff at Sunflower House. Picture: Bedford Borough Council

Inspectors wrote: "The staff provide outstanding care to children. They show understanding, kindness and patience when supporting the children. Children have complex communication needs and the staff use extremely creative ways to help children express themselves and make choices. Staff build trusting relationships with the children, and this empowers children to have a voice. Children’s wishes and feelings are held in high regard and are actioned.

"The manager models to the staff the importance of advocating for children. Overall, children feel safe, loved and valued.”

They added that “children take part in an abundance of activities” with one member of staff is an activity champion helping two children coordinate parties and activities. These have included visits to the seaside, theatre trips and visits from farm animals and magicians.

The inspectors added: “One child made a short song, to tell the activity champion how much fun he had. During the inspection, staff and children were observed singing, dancing, playing music and dressing up together.

Staff at Foxgloves. Picture: Bedford Borough CouncilStaff at Foxgloves. Picture: Bedford Borough Council
Staff at Foxgloves. Picture: Bedford Borough Council

“Children have fantastic opportunities to try new activities, which improves their self-esteem.”

Managers and staff at Foxgloves were also praised for “making a real difference to their families’ lives”, providing home visits to help parents and finding creative ways to support the parents to overcome challenges. “Staff go above and beyond to support parents,” the report said.

Sunflower House, in Woodcote, provides shared care and short stays for children with disabilities, sensory impairments and learning disabilities. Its score was improved from Good at its November 2022 inspection, to Outstanding.

Inspectors wrote: “Throughout the home, there is a warm, welcoming atmosphere. The accommodation is bright, colourful and designed to engage children of all ages. A large garden surrounds the house. The garden is full of activities that stimulate children’s senses, which encourages their enjoyment and learning.”

They also highlighted a wheelchair racetrack, mud kitchen, large bug house and gnome garden.

They added: Staff show the children love and affection. They use humour to engage the children in shared activities. The children respond to the staff warmly and share a sense of humour. Children thrive in this atmosphere. They can choose the night that they stay. Staying overnight and making friends develops children’s social skills. This has

given children a sense of self-confidence.”

The report went on to add: “The staff are innovative in obtaining the voice of the child and use a variety of methods to enable all the children to contribute to the development of the service.

“Non-verbal children benefit from staff who understand their individual ways of communication. This helps children to feel heard and listened to.”

Cllr Jane Walker, Portfolio Holder for Family, Education, Children’s Services said; “We all want to offer our congratulations to the managers Sally and Alex, along with all the staff who work at Sunflower House and Foxgloves.

“We have always known how amazing they are – it’s nice that it is also recognised by Ofsted. Well done!”