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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11th February, 2013.

 

Present:  Councillor R.J. Bertin (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. K. Edmunds, K.J. Geary, Dr. I.J. Johnson, A. Parker, Ms. R. Probert and J.W. Thomas.

 

Also present: Councillors S.C. Egan and C.P.J. Elmore.

 

 

837     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor S.T. Wiliam.

 

 

838     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 14th January, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

839     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –  

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

840     PRESENTATION – TACKLING AGE DISCRIMINATION –

 

Louise David of Vibe Experience described the lead project being run in collaboration with Cardiff Council. 

 

In a nutshell, the project aimed to break down barriers between people of different ages, especially young people and older people. 

 

Ms. David visited schools and youth clubs with a view to overcoming negative stereotyping. 

 

Ms. David showed Members of the Committee two films which aimed to remove any negative attitudes – the first concerned “Jessica” who was 16 years old, and the second concerned “Dillys” who was 80 years old. 

 

Ms. David invited any Members to visit Vibe Experience at any time.

 

 

841     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT – NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS, PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES, SERVICE IMPROVEMENT DATA (MD) –  

 

Committee were advised of the annual performance results in the areas of Adult Services, Children's Services and the Youth Offending Service for the year ended 31st March, 2012.

 

Appendix 1 to the report summarised the Vale's performance against national Indicators for the year ended 2011/12, a summary of which are indicated below:

 

·         34 indicators achieved a top quartile performance, ranked between 1st and 7th  when compared with the rest of Wales.

·         15 Indicators achieved a performance within the middle quartiles, ranked between 5th (of 12) and 16th when compared with other Welsh councils.

·         14 Indicators were in the bottom quartile of performance, ranked between 19th and 22nd in Wales.

·         Of the 63 total Indicators, the Vale performed better than or as well as the Welsh average in 42.

·         Of the 11 Adult Services Indicators, 6 were in the top quartile and 5 were in the bottom quartile.

·         Of the 46 Children's Services Indicators, 25 were in the top quartile, 13 were in the middle quartiles and 8 were in the bottom quartile.

·         Of the 6 Youth Offending Service Indicators, 3 were in the top quartile, 2 were in the middle quartiles and 1 was in the bottom quartile.

·         The Vale achieved the best performance in Wales in 19 indicators (1 Adult Services, 16 Children's Services, 2 Youth Offending Service).

·         5 Indicators recorded the lowest ranking in Wales (2 Adult Services, 3 Children's Services). 3 of these were out of all 22 councils, 1 was out of 21 and 1 out of 19 (due to other councils not submitting data).

 

Appendix 2 to the report contained a table detailing the 10 Councils of South East Wales and their individual performances against the Housing and Public Protection Indicators, in respect of how many top, middle and bottom quartile performances they achieved.

 

In response to a question “How does the Council improve in the current climate?”, Members were advised that the Directorate did not necessarily want to concentrate only on things that were measured and that this was all part of the improvement journey towards being as effective as possible. Not every Indicator received the same level of priority.  Furthermore, some Indicators related to a small cohort which meant that a small variation could have a significant effect.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance results be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendation

 

(1)       Reporting of service performance was in line with statutory requirements and the Council's Performance Management Framework and monitoring arrangements.

 

(2)       To consider progress made to date in addressing the areas of underperformance in the Council's annual performance results.

 

(3)       To consider where further improvements could be focussed to improve overall performance.

 

(4)       To ensure continuous improvement of all Council services.

 

 

842     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST DECEMBER, 2012 AND UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME (DSS) –  

 

Committee received a report which:

 

·         advised the Committee of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April 2012 to 31st December, 2012 regarding those revenue and capital budgets within the Committee's remit and which sought a change to the Capital Programme

·         updated Committee on the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

The current forecast for Social Services at the year end still remained as an underspend of £403,000.  This was as a result of the savings identified for the year and anticipated to be achieved, being £403,000 in excess of the actual savings required for the year, set as part of the Social Services Budget Programme.  Whilst this was an achievement for the Directorate, it was noted that this was only a short-term gain as the total savings target for the whole of the Budget Programme over the four year period had not yet been finalised. 

 

Children and Young People’s Services - the year end projected outturn was an overspend of £123,000.  An underspend in the Social Services Business Management and Innovation Division would reduce the recharge to Children and Young People’s Services, and thus reduce the overspend.  The service itself was actually projected to overspend by £177,000.  There continued to be pressure on the Children's Placement Budget, specifically from children with especially complex needs.  There was also pressure on the budget in respect of accommodation costs for homeless young people and on the Adoption Budget due to the high cost post adoption support package.  Any increase in the number of children becoming looked after by the Council over the year could have a significant impact on the service.

 

Adult Services - the year end projected outturn was an underspend of £526,000.  An underspend in the Social Services Business Management and Innovation Division would reduce the recharge to Adult Services and thus increase the underspend.  The service itself was actually projected to underspend by £391,000.  There was continuing pressure on the Community Care Packages Budget, which was extremely volatile and could be adversely affected by outside influences such as last years introduction of the First Steps Initiative by the Welsh Government which capped charging for non-residential services to £50 per week.  The impact of this change would continue to be monitored as the year progressed, and discussions with the Welsh Government regarding the issue continued.  Another issue to affect the year end position would be the 2012/13 fee set by the Council in respect of personal care costs for residents placed by the Council in residential and nursing homes provided by the independent sector.  Currently, 2% was included in the budget but a higher increase was being sought by the sector.

 

Business Management and Innovation - the year end projected outturn was an underspend of £189,000 but this would be recharged to other areas of Social Services showing a breakdown position under this heading.  The reason for the underspend was mainly due to staff vacancies being held under the Protection and Policy heading pending a review of service provisions. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December, 2012. 

 

Extra Care / Elderly Mental Infirm (EMI) Feasibility - studies into a suitable site for the provision of a new EMI facility were on hold whilst an Older People's Accommodation Strategy was drafted, which would inform the future development requirements.  As a result, the current year allocation of £50,000 would no longer be required.  It was proposed that some of the underspend on the EMI Budget would be used to fund works at Rondel House, in place of a proposed revenue contribution from Social Services of £25,000.

 

With regard to the Social Services Budget Programme Update, the Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £8.5m by the end of 2015/16.  Progress in identifying the savings had been made and the following table showed the current position.  Sufficient savings had been identified to meet the targets for 2012/13 and 2013/14 but there still remained £3.9m to be identified for 2014/15 and 2015/16.  In addition, Directors had been requested to formulate additional options for savings for future years in the light of a predicted worsening financial position for the Council. 

 

Year

Savings Required

£000

Savings Identified

£000

In Year (Surplus)/Shortfall

£000

Cumulative (Surplus)/Shortfall

£000

2012/13

1,430

1,833

(403)

(403)

2013/14

2,150

2,040

110

(293)

2014/15

2,150

675

1,475

1,182

2015/16

2,757

25

2,732

3,914

TOTAL

8,487

4,573

3,914

 

 

The Social Services Directorate was committed to achieving a balanced budget.  The corporate programme board and project teams overseeing the plan would continue to develop it further and ensure delivery and progress. 

 

It was reported that the reference in Recommendation (3) of the report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) should have read “Cabinet”.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed amendments to the Capital Programme to reduce the Extra Care / Elderly Mental Infirm (EMI) Feasibility Budget to nil be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

(3)       T H A T the progress made on the Social Services Budget Programme be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for information.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Scrutiny Members are aware of the position in regard to the 2012/13 Revenue and Capital Monitoring.

 

(2)       That Cabinet approves the proposed amendment to the Capital Programme.

 

(3)       That Scrutiny and Cabinet Members are aware of the progress made to date on the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

 

843     DELIVERING THE MENTAL HEALTH (WALES) MEASURE 2010 TO MEET THE NEEDS OF LOCAL PEOPLE (UPDATE REPORT) (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with an update of how the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB) were implementing the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010.

 

The Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 introduced a number of important changes to the way in which people with mental health problems are assessed and treated.  The Measure was divided into six parts and two schedules.  Parts 1 to 4 setting out the main legislative requirements relating to the provision of mental health services in Wales. 

 

Collaboration in delivering mental health services was one of the four priority workstreams managed by the Integrating Health and Social Care Services Programme Board.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, mental health services for adults in the community were delivered through multi-disciplinary Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs).  These teams provided health services and social care services from the same sites and they were in place across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff.  A new management structure had been implemented for adult mental health services and two local authorities shared an Operational Manager post.  A model for integrated team management had been implemented.

 

In partnership with the two local authorities, the Cardiff and Vale UHB was taking the lead in implementing all parts of the Measure.  The report contained the structural chart showing that a planning and management steering group had been set up; it had representation from the UHB, the two local authorities and Primary Care.

 

The report outlined how each Part of the Measure was being implemented.

 

The Welsh Government had stated that, by 6th June 2013, all service users and patients known to secondary mental health services should have a named care co-ordinator and an up to date Care and Treatment (C&T) Plan.  A large proportion of the 5,765 were patients whose cases were open to community psychiatrists but who otherwise were not known to the CMHTs.  The Cardiff and Vale UHB had decided that anyone known to a psychiatrist should be classified as receiving secondary mental health care and, as such, should have an up to date C&T Plan.  This was proving a challenging task for the community psychiatrists.

 

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board currently provided these services to people living in the Western Vale and it had taken a different approach to the issue.  People receiving “outpatient” care from a community psychiatrist who were not otherwise known to the CMHT were classified as primary care service users.  This meant that people in the Western Vale who received their care and treatment from a community psychiatrist and were not otherwise known to the CMHT did not have a right to a Care Co-ordinator, a C&T Plan or a part 3 right to self refer.  There were ongoing negotiations about how such anomalies could be resolved.

 

A protocol for the timely assessment of former users of secondary mental health services had been presented to the Mental Health Programme Board for agreement.  The protocol gave all former service users of secondary mental health services the right for up to three years following their discharge to refer themselves directly to the CMHTs without first going back to the GP.  At November 2012, there had been no recorded direct self referral back to secondary mental health care.  This was unsurprising, given that the right had only been in place since June 2012.

 

The LHB contract for Advocacy Services had been extended to 2013 with the current providers, South Wales Mental Health Advocacy.  The contract was managed in collaboration with Cwm Taf LHB.

 

A Member enquired as to how many C&T Plans would need to be prepared.  Officers did not have this information to hand and offered to supply it at a later date.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure effective scrutiny of the way in which the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 is being implemented in the Vale of Glamorgan, to improve the services offered to residents who have mental health problems.

 

 

844     AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDER: COMMUNITY MONITORING AND SUPPORT PROJECT (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with an update on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Community Monitoring and Support Project and outlined were the future actions to be undertaken as part of the project.

 

In 2009, an Adult Task and Finish Group, established by the Welsh Government issued a report describing how service provision for adults with ASD was very inconsistent across Wales.  As a consequence, local authorities were given the opportunity to bid for grant funding.  In partnership with Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan Council applied for funding to establish a Community Monitoring and Support Project across part of the South East Wales region.  This was agreed by the Welsh Government in April 2011, indicative until March 2014.

 

The funding had been allocated specifically for providing a service to adults with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome who were at risk of social isolation of vulnerable to mental ill health and who, currently were not able to access or not eligible to access statutory services.  It enabled the Council to employ two ASD Community Project Workers with responsibility for establishing and delivering the service across the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil. 

 

The service offered short-term, targeted intervention which promoted the independence and autonomy of adults with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by:

 

·         providing them with a clear point of contact for information and advice

·         ensuring that those who were eligible for statutory support were redirected to existing services

·         signposting those who do not meet the eligibility criteria for statutory social services to appropriate services located in their communities

·         reducing the risk of crisis and helping to prevent enduring mental health problems by encouraging socialisation and directing individuals to social groups, local events and activities

·         profiling any unmet need and highlighting any gaps in provision which could then be relayed to local steering groups and to the Welsh Government for consideration. 

 

Access to the service was via telephone, online engagement, face to face meetings or by referral by partner agencies.  To date, 78 separate enquiries had been received.

 

The key performance indicator for the service was that individuals felt less isolated and receive support to help them live independent lives. 

 

The service had been successful in reaching out to clients through new media.

 

·         the Adult Autism Advice web page received 1,194 page views in 2012, or which 619 were unique page views

·         our Facebook page had 92 likes

·         the generic Adult Autism Advice e-mail address has received 50 different contacts.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work being undertaken by the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Community Monitoring and Support Project be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Committee receive regular updates on the work of the project.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be invited to indicate their support for the project.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To keep Members apprised of the work of the ASD Community Monitoring and Support Project and its achievements to date.

 

(3)       To seek the views of Cabinet.

 

 

845     SOCIAL SERVICES SICKNESS ABSENCE UPDATE – HALF YEAR – APRIL TO SEPTEMBER 2012 (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with information regarding sickness absence in the Social Services Directorate for the period April to September, 2012 and were updated on the progress being made in delivering sickness absence management arrangements.

 

Included within the report was a breakdown against individual services within the Social Services Directorate for the period April to September 2012, along with financial year outturn figures in respect of the previous year.

 

Of all Directorates within the Council, Social Services continued to have the highest level of absence. 

 

Compared with the same half year period of last year, there was an overall increase in the level of absence of 0.23 days per FTE.

 

It was felt unlikely that Adult Services would achieve its target and likewise as a Directorate there was a possibility that the target may be exceeded. 

 

The data demonstrated that Operations and Recovery attributed to 31% of the absence.  Typically, with age, there was a greater likelihood of requiring an operation, and 20% of the staff in Social Services were over the age of 60.

 

The second highest reason for absence was due to Other Musculoskeletal, which accounted for 21% of absence.  Training records indicated that all staff working in care had been trained in manual handling and the incidents of issues of this nature were lower than a number of years ago as a result.

 

The split between short term and long term was 30% and 70% respectively, which was consistent throughout the Council.

 

Social Services remained a predominantly 'front-line service'.  As a consequence, the availability of alternative options (e.g. home working or light duties) to support staff was problematic although the managers were encouraged, where possible, to consider requests for flexibility. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the report and the levels of sickness absence within the Directorate be noted and that Committee receive further summary reports in relation to this matter.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Members have previously asked to receive, on a routine basis, reports confirming that the Social Services Directorate was contributing effectively to the corporate aims and objectives in respect of the Management of Attendance Policy and achieving higher levels of attendance by staff.

 

 

846     SUSTAINABLE SOCIAL SERVICES FOR WALES: A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION (DSS) –

 

Committee were provided with an update in respect of “Sustainable Social Services for Wales – A Framework for Action”, the Welsh Government policy document which set out plans “to renew social services and social care for the next decade”.

 

In February 2011, the Deputy Minister for Social Services announced a new strategic plan for putting social services on a sound footing, “Sustainable Social Services for Wales – A Framework for Action”, a copy of which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The policy paper concluded that the choice was either retrenchment or renewal.  Retrenchment would see fewer people receiving services, greater expectations that people find their own solutions, increased burdens on informal carers and a growing number of disputes between services such as the NHS and social care about who was responsible for services.  Renewal meant focusing more clearly on delivery (including preventative services), continuing to innovate and creating sustainable services.

 

Section 3 of the paper set out eight priorities for action that would be introduced in support of renewal.  In summary, the priorities were:

 

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

·         a national outcomes framework

·         citizen centred services

·         integrated services

·         reducing complexity

·         a confident and competent workforce

·         safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of citizens

·         a new improvement framework.

 

On 31st October 2012, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru produced for the Deputy Minister a final Local Government Implementation Plan for Sustainable Social Services.  This provided a detailed framework for delivering a range of commitments spanning the next two years.  A copy of the Plan was attached at Appendix 2 to the report.  The Bill was intended to provide the legal architecture to deliver “Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action”.  It would bring together, into a single unified legal framework:

 

·         the duties of local authorities and their partners to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of people and their functions in relation to social care

·         key processes of social work practice

·         the regulation and inspection of bodies / professionals who provide care services.

 

The collaborative agenda for local authorities set out in Sustainable Social Services for Wales – A Framework for Action was very congruent with the work being done by the Vale in the South East Wales Improvement Collaborative (SEWIC).  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.  Here again, the work of the Integrating Health and Social Care Improvement Board placed this Council in a good position for responding positively to increased emphasis on implementing new service models. 

 

Similarly, the agenda for change in respect of other priority areas set out in the strategic plan matched closely the direction established for the Vale in last year’s annual report of the Director of Social Services.  These included:

 

·         citizen centred services – with users and carers having a much stronger voice and greater control over their services but without the English system of personal budgets

·         a confident and competent workforce – more confident in its own professional judgement and with a reduced volume of prescriptive government guidance about processes

·         safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of citizens – cutting complexity by reducing the number of Local Safeguarding Children Boards and joining up the adult protection and children’s safeguarding agendas.

 

However, if many of the proposed changes set out in the document were likely to assist in promoting improvement, this may often be at the level of principles and goals.  In the relatively few areas where the strategy was more specific, there was some cause for concern.  For example, plans to introduce portable assessments may require the Welsh Assembly Government to resolve fundamental issues about the use of different eligibility criteria by local authorities and discrepancies in the resources made available to them for the provision of social services.  It was also difficult to reconcile the wish to introduce more elements of a national social care service and the emphasis upon greater corporate working within local authorities to promote wellbeing and social inclusion.  Getting the correct balance between national prescription and flexibility for local determination was crucial. 

 

Moreover, the strategy was predicated upon an assertion that there was a choice between retrenchment and renewal but without an economic or business case to demonstrate this premise to be true.  There was strong evidence that the current systems underpinning the provision of social care were fundamentally broken, especially the economic model given the failure to deal with issues around paying for care and the scale of the financial challenges which local government faces in meeting in full the duties placed upon it by statute and regulation.  In response to this crisis, the Vale of Glamorgan was in the forefront to efforts to reshape the range of social care services it provided, based upon agreed principles:

 

·         an emphasis on promoting preventative services which divert people form inappropriate and higher cost provision or mange demand at lower levels of intensity / intrusiveness and which could be accessed without complex assessments

·         clear tiers of services, with known thresholds

·         service models which are underpinned by the concepts which service users and others believe are necessary to underpin a dignified life, independence, choice and control, wellbeing, social inclusion.

 

The work being done in this Council to develop new models of care had clear merits:

 

·         providing opportunities for radical and creative thinking about how services were delivered, encouraging dialogue and getting consensus about overall direction

·         providing a way of establishing priorities and clarity for staff, partners and service users / carers

·         acting as a precursor for decisions about investment of resources and commissioning.

 

The three year change plan for social services was helping the Directorate to tackle the overall strategic agenda required, especially in developing the tools needed for reshaping services, with better links between planning and partnerships, commissioning and contracting and resources management.  Recent work undertaken with the Social Services Improvement Agency to emphasise reablement and restoration had encouraged a whole systems approach to problem solving, lessening the grip of traditional silos and helping the Directorate to develop integrated models of health and social care for Older People.  The vale had taken a leading role in taking forward the work of the regional improvement collaborative.

 

The Directorate was building on acknowledged strengths, but the only way to deal effectively with a context where the need for social care was growing rapidly and resources were not keeping pace was a combination of reshaping services to divert demand, retrenchment and reducing costs.  Efforts to modernise services faced many obstacles, including:

 

·         budgetary pressures and the need for savings

·         finding the resources required to bring about transformational change

·         the risks that new legislation will impose increased costs

·         the scale of the agenda, with a need to focus on innovation and continuous improvement in all areas of service design, delivery and evaluation

·         the risks of cost shunting from the NHS and other partners, including central government.

 

It was important, therefore, that local government collectively asserts considerable influence over the programme of change in social services and takes control of key elements where possible.  Operational delivery of the service commitments in the Implementation Plan would be led by ADSS Cymru with a specific contribution from the Social Services Improvement Agency in relation to building strategic capability and supporting service transformation. The Welsh Government was currently undertaking a review of Social Services improvement capacity across Wales and it was essential that the case be made for retaining improvement capacity within local government to ensure delivery of our commitments.  ADSS Cymru operated from a strong base in local government.  Directors worked through the governance and accountability structures within their own local authorities and those endorsed regionally and nationally by Leaders, Executive / Cabinet Members and Chief Executives.  ADSS Cymru would be able to supply consistent professional leadership and best use of collective knowledge and experience.  WLGA would seek to provide strong political accountability and leadership for the programme, information for Elected Members and improvement support.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Committee receives regular updates about the progress made in achieving the actions set out in the Local Government Implementation Plan for Sustainable Social Services, jointly submitted to the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services by the Welsh Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be recommended to endorse the Local Government Implementation Plan.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Scrutiny Committee receives regular updates in respect of this major policy statement by the Welsh Government and the actions taken within local government to achieve the commitments to action contained in its Implementation Plan.

 

(3)       To demonstrate the Council’s approval of the specific commitments to action set out in the Local Government Implementation Plan.

 

 

847     CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SERVICES – COMMISSIONING STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN 2013 – 2018 (DSS) –

 

Councillor C.P.J. Elmore, with the consent of the Committee, advised that Budget discussions had been undertaken and Social Services must take their share of the cuts.

 

Councillor Elmore stated that he agreed with the report in principle but it was necessary to see how the budget was developed.

 

Committee were provided with an opportunity to consider the final draft of the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013-18, attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

It was known that children and young people looked after by the Local Authority rather than by their parents or within their families were among the most vulnerable groups in society.  As their Corporate Parents, it was the Council’s responsibility to keep them safe, make sure their experiences in care are positive and improve their life chances.

 

Given the need to meet statutory responsibilities and to deal with the significant financial pressures faced by the Council, there was a need to focus on:

 

·         preventing children and young people becoming looked after where this is not necessary to safeguard their welfare

·         enabling those that do come into care to be rehabilitated back to their family network were it is safe to do so

·         providing the best possible outcomes for those who remain accommodated.

 

The Strategy focuses on these three key stages in the “care journey”.

 

The Strategy contained four key objectives:

 

·         To support families to stay together and reduce the need for children to be looked after by ensuring a focus on early intervention and preventative action across all service provision for children, including statutory and independent providers.

·         To manage risk confidently and provide support at the “edge of care” by making sure that need and risk were accurately assessed and received the proper response, so that the right children were accommodated at the right time.  This included supporting families by making private arrangements within their wider family networks.

·         To provide and commission a flexible and affordable mix of high quality placements that met the diverse range of children’s needs.

·         To give children clearly planned journeys through care which remained focused on achieving care plans, prevent drift, enable them to be reunited with family and friends were possible, provide them with stable placements and opportunities to exit the care system positively.

 

These objectives were underpinned by the following key principles:

 

·         the responsibility for meeting the needs of children and young people looked after or at risk of becoming looked after rests across all services for children, including statutory and independent providers

·         the majority of children were most likely to thrive and achieve good outcomes if they were cared for within their own families

·         preventative services and early intervention to support children in need and their families should be provided to give them every chance to stay together

·         where children cannot be supported within their immediate family, families will be supported to make private arrangements within their wider family and friendship networks and, where necessary, make these arrangements permanent through the use of Residence Orders and Special Guardianship Orders

·         formal kinship fostering arrangements would be explored as the preferred alternative arrangement where it was necessary for the local authority to share parental responsibility or to intervene in managing risk and protecting children

·         where a child’s needs could not be adequately met through the arrangements described in the principles above, the majority would have their needs best met in a substitute family – preferably with in-house foster carers and, if not, with Independent Fostering Agency carers (wherever possible, living in the Vale of Glamorgan)

·         residential care placements would be made only where the complexity and challenge of meeting a child or young person’s needs meant they were unable to live within a family setting or where a young person was subject to a Secure Remand

·         placement should be local, to enable children and young people to remain in their communities, maintain their networks and minimise disruption in their lives

·         placements should be defined in terms of the child / young person’s needs.  It was the role of the Placement Panel to agree that a child should become looked after and to consider the most appropriate type of placement to meet their needs with due consideration given to the available resources

·         all Looked After Children of statutory school age should receive appropriate education provision regardless of their placement and ability to access mainstream schooling.  Providing appropriate support to enable engagement in education was just as important as finding suitable care placements for Looked After Children

·         placements should support a positive transition to independence, adulthood, education, employment, training and, where applicable, resettlement back into the community from custodial settings (i.e. enabling young people to succeed in achieving their aspirations).

 

Developing the Strategy marked a start; it was delivery of the objectives included in it and the actions that would make the difference.  A number of the key actions contained within the Strategy had already been put in place and these were beginning to show positive outcomes.  However, successful implementation of the Strategy would require a continuing and co-ordinated effort that was Council-wide and which included other Divisions and service providers.

 

The Children and Young People Services Division Management Team would be responsible for overseeing delivery of the Strategy and the action plan, monitoring the impact on children and their families and driving forward the focus on reducing admissions to care and increasing reunification to family and friends as a key priority for the Directorate.  Scrutiny Committee would receive six monthly progress updates.

 

Concern was expressed about the effect of welfare cuts, including homelessness.  Members also spoke on the volatility of the Looked After Children budget.  Committee was advised that it would soon receive a report dealing with the issue of recruitment for Foster Carers.

 

Members were also advised that any homeless 16 or 17 year old had the option of being classed as “Looked After” following an assessment which demonstrated a need to be accommodated.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the content of the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the impact that successful delivery of the Strategy was intended to have on improving services within the context of achieving agreed savings targets be noted, although Committee considered that savings in family support services would have an adverse impact on the costs of Children’s Services.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet with a recommendation that it endorses the objectives and principles contained within the document and the action plan.

 

(4)       T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

 

(5)       T H A T Committee receives regular progress updates on the delivery of the action plan.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-5)    To provide Elected Members with the opportunity to consider the Commissioning Strategy, to influence the priority areas for future development and to exercise appropriate oversight of this key function for the Council.

 

 

848     QUESTION SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL ON 23RD JANUARY, 2013 PURSUANT TO COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE 8.2, TOGETHER WITIH THE RESPONSE THERETO –

 

Committee received the question submitted to Council on 23rd January, 2013 entitled “Will you make a statement regarding the impact of the adverse weather on the delivery of social services?” together with the reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services given in response.

 

(xxi)    Question from Councillor Chris Franks

 

Will you make a statement regarding the impact of the adverse weather on the delivery of social services?

 

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Adult Services

 

I’m very glad to have this opportunity to pay tribute to our staff in Social Services and to other providers of care for their tremendous commitment to supporting very vulnerable residents of the Vale during recent days.  It’s a testament to their hard work and dedication that disruption to services has been kept at a very low level.

 

For example, even where individual members of staff were unable to get to their normal places of work all residential care homes remained open, as did all the teams doing assessments and care management work.  This meant that every safeguarding concern across Children’s and Adult Services received a proper response. 

 

I would commend especially the Reablement Team who managed to provide a service to the clients throughout the Vale, especially older people at risk.  This was a well co-ordinated team effort, made possible by staff willing to undertake visits on foot or volunteering to work on their day off.  

 

Of course, we had great support from all parts of the Council, including a supply of drivers and 4x4 transport which meant staff were able to reach even the clients in the rural areas that otherwise would have been inaccessible.

 

There has been some disruption.  Adult Day Services were affected by difficulties in transporting service users safely to and from the centres.  Meals on Wheels were not delivered in the Penarth area, although contingency arrangements were put in place with families and carers to ensure that service users received meals.  The Adults Learning Disability Respite Facility and the Children’s Short Breaks Service postponed episodes of planned respite because of staffing problems and difficulty in transporting service users safely.  On the other hand, one person had an extended stay because it wasn’t possible to return them home safely; the staff at Rhoose Road should be commended for all their efforts to ensure that this could be managed appropriately.

 

Supplemental

 

Councillor Franks asked, in the light of the severe budget problem facing the Directorate, whether it would be possible to continue providing a similar level of service in such circumstances. 

 

The Cabinet Member indicated that services would continue to be maintained as best as possible in any conditions.

 

CouncillorS.C.Egan, with the consent of the Committee, stated that he had nothing to add to his answer to the question.  The Council was grateful to its loyal staff, not just within Social Services, but within the Council as a whole.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the question and answer be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the response given to the question.

 

 

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