A residential care service which looks after six young people in South Ayrshire has been ordered to improve after being branded 'weak' by watchdogs.

The Care Inspectorate paid a visit to the Spark of Genius operation based at Woodside Farm in Coylton in October.

They graded the quality of the service's support for children's rights and wellbeing as 'weak' - the second lowest rating available.

The inspectors gave the same rating to the capacity of leaders and staff to meet and champion the needs and rights of the young people using the service.

A third evaluation - for how well children and young people were kept safe, felt loved and got the most out of life - got a rating of 'adequate'.

The service provides residential care for up to six young people at two houses in Ayrshire - one of them registered for up to five young people, the other for one.


The report found that young people's care plans and assessments were not fully completed, staffing levels were not consistent with young people's needs, and staff training did not fully match young people's needs.

The report stated: "Young people's views on feeling safe were mixed.

"Some young people spoke positively of staff and of the very good relationships they had built. Other young people we spoke to said they did not feel safe due to the distressed behaviours of peers.

"Whilst the majority of staff demonstrated good knowledge of child protection and whistleblowing procedures there had been internal investigations led by assistant managers that had not followed the child protection policy.

"There is a need for all staff to be fully aware and understanding of the child protection policy and procedures."

The report said that some staff members had left the service, while others felt vulnerable as a result of allegations made against them. 

It added: "Several staff had been subject of internal investigation. Staff morale was low at the time of the inspection as a result of the impact of number of processes that were taking take place.

"While there had previously been a stable period in the service, there had been a recent increase in the numbers of restrictive practices.

"This was due to the dynamic created in the house between young people with similar needs that had not been considered sufficiently during the matching process.

"We have made a requirement in relation to the need for full information being obtained prior to admission of young people into the service."

The report sets out a number of improvements Spark of Genius was required to make at its Woodside operation by mid-January.

It also reveals that a requirement imposed on March 30, 2023, to "ensure the safety and wellbeing of young people is robustly supported", had not been met, and that the operation's child protection policy had not been reviewed since August of the previous year.

Another requirement made on March 30 last year, to improve notifications to the Care Inspectorate, was met within the required timescale.

Spark of Genius, who run homes and properties across Scotland, said they did not wish to comment on the report.

Their website home page includes a quote from a previous inspection of another Spark of Genius operation by the Care Inspectorate, which states: "We found the service to be well managed and staffed.

"The manager and her staff were passionate about their work. They worked hard to maintain caring relationships and a homely environment where young people felt that they belonged."