Caring staff at a council-run short stay center for disabled children have been praised for their ‘outstanding’ work by Ofsted.
Apple Trees in Blackburn, which is managed by Blackburn with Darwen Council, has been rated exceptional by Ofsted inspectors across the board – for the sixth year running.
It is also recognized as being one of the best services of its type in the country.
The report stated: “The Children’s Home provides highly effective services which consistently exceed standards of ‘good’.
“The actions of the children’s home contribute to significantly improving outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection and care.
“Children have meaningful and enriching experiences when they access this short-lived service.
“They thrive and benefit from the exceptional care and opportunities provided by dedicated staff.
“The staff provide very sensitive care to the individual and often complex needs of the children.
“The relationships that develop between staff and children last for many years.”
Apple Trees provides short breaks for up to five children with complex needs at a time, up to age 18.
The team offers a range of ‘at home’ activities and support depending on the needs of the child, young person and carer.
Recent investment in the center has supported the creation of a stand-alone suite to further enhance the service offered.
During the inspection, parents described the frame as a “lifeline” – providing children with care and support when they need it most.
Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cllr Julie Gunn said: “I am so proud that we are providing this superb service which is making a huge difference for children and families.
“The inspection judgment is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the caring and highly skilled team.”
Apple Trees allows young people to have social experiences outside of their immediate family in a purpose-built environment.
Inspectors also highlighted the strong collaboration between staff and parents and attributed it to “extremely thorough planning” and ongoing liaison to ensure all children enjoy their stay.
Inspectors said: ‘Staff ensure children are provided with a familiar and nurturing environment, as well as new and fun activities.
Praising the leadership of the service, the report states: “The manager is very ambitious to keep the service evolving and growing continuously.
“He is confident in his role and expects a lot from the staff to provide the best possible care.
“He leads a stable and highly experienced team that is committed to providing children and their families with exceptional service.”
Jayne Ivory, director of children’s services in Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This service is truly one of the best of its kind in the country.
“We are able to help children and young people with additional needs have opportunities to learn and grow while their families have time to rejuvenate.”