Having someone watch over your every move is not normal!

Annie (A former resident who has been through the family assessment process)

We agree. Living in a ‘Big Brother’ type environment will be challenging and seen as interfering. There is a more positive way to look at an assessment however, and it is on this basis that we have created Serendipity. We encourage families at the viability assessment and the placement planning meeting to accept that observations and restrictions are necessary and that they can use this as an opportunity to show what skills and strengths they do have as parents.

We understand that in the beginning it will be difficult for family members to feel relaxed and comfortable and with this in mind, we aim to make the observations as unobtrusive as possible for the families who stay here.

At Serendipity, each family will be accommodated in a semi-independent Unit. Levels of direct observation and monitoring will be agreed by all parties at a placement planning meeting. CCTV is in operation in all communal areas at Serendipity and observations from CCTV form part of the assessment.

At Serendipity we provide an environment that is safe for children with an appropriate level of supervision in accordance with the placement plan. The welfare of the child(ren) is paramount and Serendipity staff will intervene if it is thought that any child(ren) is at potential risk of harm or danger.

A daily log is kept as a record with input by various members of staff monitoring the family's progress. Observations will be discussed with the family and these logs will be used as the basis of a weekly review held between a senior staff member and the parent(s). The observation records will also form the basis for our observed evidence in any reports written by Serendipity.

We endeavour to fully record observations at the end of planned sessions and after tasks are completed, not during. It is our aim to create an environment that is conducive to parents acting as normally as possible so that they are open and ready to make changes. Staff may also use audio recording.

The families monitoring needs, which are agreed in placement planning meetings, are reviewed regularly. The goal is to begin to reduce the restrictions so family life can regain normality. Restrictions will only lessen if it is safe for the child(ren) to do so. The staff will offer constructive, structured feedback throughout the placement but again the goal is for this to lessen as families learn new skills and begin to make positive choices.