Do I need a responsible individual?
If you are registering to provide your children’s home as an organisation, you must appoint a Registered Manager (RM) and a Responsible Individual (RI) The responsibilities of the Responsible Individual are extensive. They are essentially the front face of your organisation. They will deal with the regulator Ofsted, liaise with stakeholders and oversee the leadership and management of the home.
The information in Regulations and Guidance is very limited on what the role entails. You must understand your obligations outlined in The Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015, particularly Regulation 13, the Leadership and Management Standard. Here are a few pointers to get you thinking about the role.
The Responsible Individual’s role is to supervise the management and delivery of the service and ensure that you are meeting your regulatory requirements. The Responsible Individual must have experience in children’s social care, understand effective practice in responding to the needs of looked-after children, local authority care planning duties, and how children’s homes are required to support these.
As the regulator of children’s homes, Ofsted can at any time scrutinise the fitness of a Responsible Individual, either through inspection or as a stand-alone event.
Regulation 26(7)(b) requires the Responsible Individual to have the capacity, experience and skills to supervise the management of each children’s home they are Responsible Individual for. This will include demonstrating that they have the essential skills needed to develop the leadership and management of homes within their remit such that the homes have the capacity and capability to meet the Children’s Homes Quality Standards. There is no limit to the number of homes that a person can be appointed as a Responsible Individual for, but they must be able to demonstrate that they can effectively supervise the management of each home individually, as well as all of the homes overall.
Registered Individuals hold a key leadership role. They have overall responsibility for supervising the service management and ensuring the quality of the services provided. The Children’s Home Quality Standards are clear in their intention to directly link the leadership requirements and the level of quality in a service. So the quality of the services provided in your organisation is, in a very real sense, down to the leadership you show in your role as Registered Individual.
Expectations of the role
It is helpful if the role expectations are detailed in a role specification. Such a specification outlines the job requirements and what the organisation will do to support them. The expectations of the role as far as regulations are concerned include being the point of contact for and supervising the management of the regulated home.
A key expectation is to ensure that there are adequate numbers of staff in place, that the necessary resources and equipment are in place, that the staff are sufficiently trained, and that children are safe from harm and abuse. Ultimately, a failure in any of these areas will be the responsibility of the responsible individual and the organisation. Supervising the home management means that people in the role must have strong leadership and communication skills and the ability to work effectively in partnership with the Registered Manager. The Responsible Individual is responsible for Management Supervision which holds managers accountable for the services they deliver and offers the opportunity for review and personal and service development planning. Management supervision enables the Responsible Individual to discuss all aspects of the services and is one of the ways to be assured that services are being delivered to a good quality standard. This type of supervision should also provide information about a range of indicators that may flag areas of possible concern, such as high sickness levels, high staff turnover, and increased complaints.
The Responsible Individual may not be able to offer professional supervision personally, either because of other demands or because they do not have the necessary professional experience. It may be necessary to purchase these services if no one within the organisation has the experience to provide them.
The statement of purpose as a benchmark tool
Responsible Individuals can use the Statement of Purpose to measure that the service is providing what it should be. The most important measurement of what any service provides is the user’s quality of life. The service must demonstrate that it has improved the quality of life for the children and young people who live there. The role of a Responsible Individual in supervising the management of the home ensures that systems and processes enable the provider to feel confident that it is meeting its statutory obligations and functions, achieving well and providing a high-quality service.
The Statement of Purpose is about more than simply complying with registration requirements by providing a few words about the service. It should reflect what the service intends to achieve, why it exists and what it offers. It should also include what drives the business and forms the basis for strategic and operational planning. All elements of business planning should relate to the aims and objectives outlined in the Statement of Purpose.
Point of contact
The Responsible Individual is much more than a point of contact; they are the person able to develop stakeholder relationships and participate in joint working. The ‘public face’ of the organisation plays an important role in an increasingly commercial market. Effective marketing is informed by market intelligence, which comes from actively linking to stakeholders, the local community, working in partnership with commissioners, and ensuring the regulators have the necessary information. The Responsible Individual provides an important addition to the strategic element of the organisation.
Ensure that everyone in your team knows what the Responsible Individual does, what they are responsible for and to whom they are responsible. You should eliminate any confusion about the role of the Registered Manager and the role of the Responsible Individual in your organisation.