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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 31st October, 2011.

 

 

Present: Councillor Miss. S.J.C. Williams (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. S.M. Bagstaff, Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, N. Moore, C.L. Osborne, Mrs. M. Randall, Mrs. S.I. Sharpe and J.W. Thomas.

 

Also present:  Councillor Mrs. D.M. Turner.

 

 

544     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillor S.C. Egan and Mrs. M. Kelly Owen.

 

 

545     APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

The Committee was advised that following Councillor Mrs. V.L. Ellis' resignation from the Committee the position of Vice-Chairman was to be considered and it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Councillor J.W. Thomas be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee for the remainder of the municipal year.

 

 

546     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th September, 2011 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

547     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

548     REVIEW OF TRANSITIONS SERVICES FOR DISABLED YOUNG PEOPLE (DSS) -

 

The Head of Service introduced the Operational Manager for Children's Services (Carol Davies) and the Service Manager for the Child Health and Disability Team (Ceri Spence) to the Scrutiny Committee. 

 

Members were advised that the role of the transition process was to facilitate a young disabled person's journey from childhood to adulthood primarily between the ages of 14 - 21.  Multi agency and multi profession input was also required to ensure that the change was managed well by all organisations with a responsibility for providing support and help to young people. 

 

Ms. Davies stated that in 2009 a case management inquiry in the Vale had raised issues about information exchange and care planning at key transitions / move on points, both between teams within Children's Services and between Children's and Adult Services. An Action Plan had been put in place to address these concerns.

 

A CSSIW follow up review in 2010 had noted the following:

 

·                    The arrangements for 'transition' and 'move on' planning, whether to Leaving Care Team or Adult Services were effective and the quality of work mainly good.  Work was mainly underpinned by good assessments, clear planning, service user engagement and a professional approach.

·                    The transitions staff reported that case transfer and 'move on' processes between teams had improved and were well managed.

·                    Delays in starting early transition planning with the Education Department for children not previously known to Social Services was not in line with the Authority's policy of transition, which required commencement at 14 years of age.

·                    Multi-agency planning processes were challenged by the service requirements of young adults with very complex needs but overall services were found to be responsive to individual needs and wishes.

·                    Adult Services tended to become actively involved in planning to receive cases at a very late stage.  The CSSIW recommended that the Authority should review these arrangements to ensure that Adult Services were fully engaged at an appropriate stage that was purposeful.

 

There were currently 55 young people aged between 14 and 18 who were involved with the Child Health and Disability Team in Social Services and were part of the transition process.  Of these, 11 would reach their 18th birthday between April 2011 and March 2012 and transfer to Adult Services.  The projected number transferring to Adult Services between April 2012 and March 2013 was reported as 14 with some of the young people having very costly and complex care packages.

 

In addition to referrals from the Transition Referral Interface Group, the Adult Services Transitions Team had also received referrals from voluntary agencies, hospitals, housing providers or from families and young people who had previously declined services.  The Transitions Service Business Process was outlined as a flowchart at Appendix 1 to the report.


Following the review by the CSSIW a number of improvements to transition services had been achieved.  To illustrate the Transition Service in action, attached at Appendix 2 were two detailed case studies which provided Members with full details of the services provided and support offered.

 

The report also highlighted the further developments that were planned as detailed below:

 

·                    At the first Transition Planning meeting a key worker would be identified who would be responsible for the co-ordination of the plan. However the key worker system would require further development involving the NHS and education personnel as the role did not automatically need to be fulfilled by Social Services.

·                    The production of a single Transition Plan incorporating the various statutory plans that had to be completed within Children's Services.

·                    Detailed transition arrangements for those who receive continuing health care or may be eligible for it. This would need to be stipulated in the Transition Protocol.

·                    An appropriate health representative would need to be identified to sit on the Multi-Agency Complex Needs Panel and

·                    following discussions regarding the need to join together the Transitions Team in Adult Services and the Transitions Worker in the Child Health and Disability Team conclusions had been reached that the current 'virtual team' working arrangement was more effective.

 

The report suggested that further consideration should also be given to the possibility of two practitioners within the Child Health and Disability Team having case responsibility for all transitions work.

 

In considering the report Members agreed that it had been useful to receive the illustrated case studies as they detailed the needs and support that would be required.  They were also pleased to note the good progress that had been made to date but queried how well the service was working with the Housing Department.  The Service Manager advised that the Transitions Review Group met on a monthly basis with representatives from the Housing Department invited to attend.

 

The Director referred to the newly proposed Social Services Bill which would extend entitlement for children with disabilities to the age of 21.  No additional resources are likely to be forthcoming and this could have major implications for the Social Services Department.

 

Having discussed the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the progress made to date be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To keep Members abreast of the review of Transitions Services for disabled young people.


 

549     THE 2010/2011 ANNUAL REPORT BY THE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS) -

 

The Welsh Government required that the Director of Social Services reported annually on the effectiveness of social care services in the Vale of Glamorgan and his plans for improvement.  The Director advised that there was considerable evidence in the report to show that over the past year the Directorate had become even better equipped to fulfil the Council's high expectations of the service and to meet the needs of service users and carers.  The report had to be made available to the public and for key partners of the Council and would be used by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate of Wales (CSSIW) as part of the evidence upon which they based their annual review and evaluation of performance of Social Services departments in each local authority.  The report also described the formidable challenges which faced the Council in particular in finding ways to bridge the gap with the reducing resources available and the year on year growth in social care costs.  The Director advised that, because of the difficult financial context and increasing demands to services, the only sustainable answer to social services in the longer term was for the Council and its partners to change the pattern of services based upon the understanding that it needed to promote independence and focus services away from institutional settings and into peoples homes and local communities. 

 

Members queried potential service impacts on the Meals on Wheels Service and the Living at Home Scheme in Penarth and what the implications would be of any changes to these service areas.  The Director advised that the Meals on Wheels service would be unaffected.  With regard to the Living at Home Scheme, the organisation had been advised that Social Services were no longer able to transport the meals because of the need to prioritise its own assessed day service users.  However, the department was currently negotiating with the Scheme organisers to assist in making alternative arrangements.  Officers urged Members that if they knew of any organisation in the Third Sector who could offer support, to advise them to contact the Department.  The Chairman requested that full details on the issues that may affect both services be emailed to Members as soon as possible.

 

In response to a query about adoption services the Head of Service advised that delays in the court process was having an impact on the service but that this was not just confined to the Vale it was a national issue.  Members referred to the issue of adoption in particular that it had been raised in the media recently and they requested further information on the statistics for the Vale compared with Wales and that a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in relation to this matter. 

 

Members also questioned the data in the report in relation to the number of telephone enquiries that was reported as having risen from 6,000 to 19,000 and they requested a detailed breakdown of the figures to a future meeting.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T all Members be e-mailed with the details of any issues concerning the Meals on Wheels and Living Scheme Services.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee receives statistical information on adoption services within the Vale to include comparisons with other Welsh Local Authorities.

 

(3)       T H A T full details of the increase in telephone call enquiries as detailed in the Annual Report be presented to the Committee.

 

(4)       T H A T the Director's second Annual Report and the improvement priorities contained therein be endorsed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1,2&3)           To provide Members with up to date information.

 

(4)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee is informed of the views expressed by the Director of Social Services in his Annual Report regarding service effectiveness in 2010/11 and his plans for improvement.

 

 

550     SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL SERVICES FOR WALES: A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION (DSS) -

 

On 17th February , 2011 the Deputy Minister for Social Services had announced a new strategic plan for putting Social Services in a sound footing 'Sustainable Social Services for Wales - A Framework for Action'.  A copy of the paper was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

In the paper, the Deputy Minister had made it clear that the changes were needed not because Social Services was in some way broken but because of significant changes in the social and financial context within which it was delivered.  This had also been the conclusion reached by the recent Independent Commission which had painted a picture of a service with considerable strengths, many of which were derived from its position at the heart of local government.  The Director further advised that Social Services and social care had faced a real and unsustainable increase in demand and the numbers of looked after children and those on the Child Protection Register was growing.  The number of people registered with local authorities in Wales as having a learning disability was also increasing and, together with a rising number of older people with complex needs, the financial outlook would be difficult. 

 

The Framework for Action set out eight priorities for action that would be introduced in support of renewal.  In summary, the priorities were noted as:

 

·                    a strong national purpose and expectation; and clear accountability for delivery

·                    a national outcomes framework

·                    citizens centred services

·                    integrated services

·                    reducing complexity

·                    a confident and competent workforce

·                    safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of citizens and

·                    a new improvement framework.

 

The Director stated that some of the policy changes could achieved within existing legislation although some would require changes to regulations or to primary legislation.  Others had implications for non devolved services. The paper also acknowledged that the Implementation Plan must take into account other important initiatives that would have a major impact on Social Services, this list included the Dilnot Commission which was looking at how people across the UK could contribute to the long term care costs in a fair and sustainable way and the Family Justice Review which would have a significant impact upon children's social services and had been jointly commissioned by the Welsh and English Ministers. 

 

In response to a request from the Deputy Minister to all local authorities asking Leaders how they were going to lead and implement parts of Sustainable Social Services which fall to local government, the Leader of the Council had provided her with a response in July 2011.  The Deputy Minister had been encouraged by the level of the Council's commitment and had been interested to see the examples of existing collaborative projects and services which demonstrated that the Council had a firm base on which to build improvement.  There was an expectation that in December 2011, local government in general would respond with one voice co-ordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association.  This did not preclude individual responses from local authorities detailing existing and proposed activity at local and regional levels.  It was envisaged that a collective response would be put to Leaders for endorsement at the WLGA Council on 25th November.

 

The collaborative agenda for local authorities set out in the report was very congruent with the work being done by the Vale in the South East Wales Improvement Collaborative (SEWIC) and the partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council, the plan also proposed that the Welsh Government would prioritise integrated services in particular for families with complex needs, looked after children, transition to adulthood and frail older people. 

 

Members requested that the Committee consider the collective response as detailed above at a future meeting either in December 2011 or January 2012 as the financial implications with no additional resources was of concern.  The Cabinet Member, with permission to speak, advised that the Minister was of the opinion that Social Services was best placed within Local Government and she was the Conservative Party representative on a Partnership Forum with the Minister in taking forward the agenda for 'Sustainable Social Services for Wales'.

 

Having considered the report the Scrutiny Committee

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted and that further updates be presented to the Scrutiny Committee when available.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that the Scrutiny Committee can be kept abreast of the issue.