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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th May, 2013.

 

Present:  Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. R. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, E. Hacker, Dr. I.J. Johnson, Ms. R.F. Probert, J.W. Thomas and S.T. Wiliam.

 

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

 

 

22        APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors R.J. Bertin and R.L. Traherne.

 

 

23        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

 

In the absence of the Chairman, Councillor Mrs. Birch took the Chair.

 

 

24        MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th April, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

25        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

26        THE DECISION BY “CROSSROADS IN THE VALE” TO TRANSFER THEIR DAY CARE SERVICE (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 8th April 2013, had been informed of the decision made by “Crossroads in the Vale” to move its day care services from the Bryneithin site to Barry Island. 

 

“Crossroads in the Vale” currently supported older people with dementia-related illnesses in the Vale of Glamorgan through the provision of day care at the Bryneithin site.  The service was run independently by this organisation, and it assisted both private and social services funded service users. 

 

“Crossroads in the Vale” had now found an alternative site at Breaksea Drive, Barry Island.  The facilities at the centre in Barry Island were more suitable for the current clients and for meeting the needs of the service in the longer term.

 

Staff from Crossroads and the Council were working together constructively to manage very sensitively the process of transferring the service.  A communication strategy had been developed and each service user and significant adult (i.e. the carer or relative, where the individual lacked the mental capacity to understand the change) had been informed about the decision to move.  When the transfer process was complete, relevant care co-ordinators would undertake individual reviews for social care users funded through the social services budget (as and when required) to ensure that services continued to meet their requirements.

 

Cabinet had resolved

 

(1)       That the decision made by “Crossroads in the Vale” to move its day care service be noted.

 

(2)       That the Director of Social Services be authorised to provide “Crossroads in the Vale” with financial assistance up to the sum of £11,000 p.a. for three years.

 

(3)       That the report be referred to the Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee for information.

 

Committee were advised how the move had gone, and were advised that there had been a very positive reaction to the change from the clients and staff. 

 

The new catering arrangements were working well and it was hoped that a local arts college would create a mural. 

 

Members noted that, as a result of the decision by “Crossroads in the Vale” to transfer their day care service from Bryneithin to Barry Island, the Bryneithin site was now vacant.  

 

Most of the equipment at Bryneithin had been recycled, with the exception of a number of beds and 24 hour security was being provided.  Given the cost of provision of the 24 hour security, it was important that an appraisal of the site be carried out, to include the option for demolition. 

 

A Member enquired as to the number of service users catered for at the Crossroads service and was informed that the number was in the order of 25. 

 

Having considered the reference from Cabinet, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decisions of Cabinet be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the decision of Cabinet.

 

 

27        TASK AND FINISH ACTIVITIES FOR 2013/14 (HDS) –

 

Committee were updated on Scrutiny reviews being undertaken, and were requested to agree a process for Scrutiny Committees to consider topics for review in 2013/14. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group, in July 2012, gave consideration to a report for prioritising Task and Finish activities for the current municipal year.  The Group was also made aware that the period to undertake both prioritised activities once agreed by the Group would be limited due to the natural delay in the Council establishing its committees at the Annual Meeting following the 2012 elections.  The Group also acknowledged the limited resources available within the Democratic and Scrutiny Team which would require the completion of the Priority 1 activity before Priority 2 could commence. 

 

In considering items for review, the Group also discussed the merits / feasibility of Members themselves undertaking review type activities in order to increase capacity (with assistance of officers from the Directorate allied to the service review).  This principle was supported by the Group, subject to the relevant Scrutiny Committee’s agreement initially being sought on undertaking any review by this method.  However, it was recommended that should an approach be taken, then the topic should fall within the parameters of the overall process for prioritising Task and Finish work and that the relevant service area confirmed it was able to resource (i.e. in terms of officers support) the undertaking of the work.

 

The Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group subsequently agreed its priorities for 2012/13 as below:

 

            Priority 1 – Welfare Reform and the implications on Council services

            Priority 2 – Traffic Management – the impact of traffic flows within the County, including reference to

                              sustainable travel.

 

Priority 1 was chosen and the completed report was presented to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) in April 2013.

 

Scrutiny Committees were now asked to agree their work programmes for 2013/14, taking into account the suggested following criteria:

 

-           whether the topic was specific (had a clear remit / question to answer)

-           whether achievable (in the time given and resources available)

-           likely to generate productive outcomes

-           timely and relevant (i.e. it being a Council / community priority) and of public interest.

 

As in previous years, each Scrutiny Committee was required to recommend items to be put forward for review to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group to prioritise. 

 

To facilitate this process, Committees were informed of items that had been highlighted resulting from the number of surveys and questionnaires that had already been undertaken with the public by the Council over previous months. 

 

The Corporate Plan had also highlighted a number of issues that the Council was aware of as concern to residents and had been identified as improvement objectives.  Appendix B to the report provided such examples. 

 

Having considered all options available, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the update on Scrutiny reviews be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the process for considering reviews in 2013/14 as contained in the report and as previously endorsed by the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group, be agreed.

 

(3)       T H A T the review to be submitted for consideration on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) be as follows:

 

·           How do we ensure the future delivery of the care of older people within Social Services.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    In recognition of the role of scrutiny and to facilitate Scrutiny Committee work programmes as outlined in the Council’s Constitution.

 

 

28        UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME (DSS) –

 

Committee were updated on the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme and considered a request for amendments to the Programme for 2013/14 onwards. 

 

During 2012/13, the Directorate was required to find savings totalling £1.43m.  In order to progress the savings programme and to reduce the savings required in future years, the Directorate itself set a savings target of £1.833m., which represented an additional saving of £403k. 

 

The following table showed the progress made during 2012/13 for each of the identified Social Services savings.  Where the identified savings had not been fully achieved during the year, underspends in similar areas had been allocated to compensate for the shortfall.  In the circumstances, the actions to be taken during 2013/14 are as outlined below:

 

Project

Target Saving (£000)

Actual Saving (£000)

Position

Delete CAMHS Social Worker Post

58

58

Achieved

Contract with Atal Y Fro

67

67

Achieved

 

Contract with First Opportunities

25

25

Achieved

Continuing Health Care

110

110

Achieved

 

Managed Budget Reductions

200

200

Achieved

TOTAL CHILDRENS

460

460

 

 

Reconfigure VCRS

45

45

Reorganisation was implemented from February 2013.  Staff vacancies contributed to achieving the saving in 2012/13

Care Packages Budget Reduction

618

618

Savings have been achieved in year through a reduction in expenditure and an increase in income

Managed Budget Reduction

300

300

Achieved

 

Supported Accommodation Learning Disabilities

100

100

Achieved

Residential Services

100

100

Achieved by an increase in client contributions for residential care

Service level agreement with Cardiff Council - Emergency Duty Team

25

25

Achieved

TOTAL ADULTS

 

1,188

1,188

 

 


Project

Target Saving (£000)

Actual Saving (£000)

 

Child Protection Conferencing & Review

35

35

Review and staff consultation is complete.  Currently in process of implementation, including staff recruitment.  Staff vacancies achieved the saving in 2012/13

Managed Budget Reduction

90

90

The staffing reorganisation will not be complete until part way through 2013/14.  Underspends elsewhere in the division have contributed to achieving the saving in 2012/13

Delete ICT Budget

60

60

Achieved

 

TOTAL BUSINESS, MGT & INNOVATION

185

185

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL SOCIAL SERVICES

1,833

1,833

 

 

Certain schemes had previously been identified but with no specific savings target attached.  The following schemes were now being closed as follows:

  • Revocation of Care Orders – this scheme had now been closed as the project had delivered revocations for all appropriate cases and the approach was now embedded in normal practice.
  • Supported Accommodation – this scheme had now been closed.  A review had concluded that alternative forms of service provision would be more beneficial.

The following savings targets had been approved by the Council as the minimum Social Services savings required for the next four years.  Savings identified were also shown and included the £403k. identified in 2012/13 in excess of the saving target for that year.

 

Year

Savings Required

£000

Savings Identified

£000

In Year Surplus/ (Shortfall)

£000

Cumulative Surplus/   (Shortfall)

£000

Additional 2012/13 savings

   -

403

403

403

2013/14

2,150

2,040

(110)

293

2014/15

838

579

(259)

34

2015/16

1,700

1,776

76

110

2016/17

1,315

1,391

76

186

TOTAL

6,003

6,189

 

 

 

The savings identified incorporated an additional saving which Social Services would find via the Fostering Services.  Scrutiny Committee on 11th March 2013 received a report on the Council’s in-house Fostering Service.  Part of this report detailed an invest-to-save scheme to recruit additional foster carers.  This bid had now been approved and the savings to be achieved through this initiative had been included in the identified savings.  This had resulted in savings identified being £186k. over the target required.  This surplus would be used to mitigate any additional savings to be found in future.

 

It had become apparent that some of the implementation dates for the savings required amendment.  Appendix 1 to the report therefore provided a draft showing the individual areas of saving for 2013/14 onwards, which incorporated proposed changes that required approval.  It was requested that changes are made to the approved programme to bring forward some savings from 2014/15 and to put back some of the savings from 2013/14 to 2014/15.  The proposed changes did not alter the total savings to be found by year or overall throughout the programme.

 

Scrutiny Committee was asked to consider the following changes to the programme, and to refer the changes to Cabinet for approval. 

 

Children’s Services

 

Supported Lodgings – the £20k. saving in 2013/14 to be amalgamated with the SLA saving of £60k., as the saving would be realised through reduced SLA expenditure.

Residential Care Contract – the £50k. saving in 2013/14 to be amalgamated with Out of Area Residential Placement saving of £150k., as the saving would be realised from reduced placement costs.

 

Adult Services

 

Meals on Wheels - £32k. to be brought forward from 2014/15 into 2013/14.  The majority of this saving would be achieved via the increase in charge for 2013/14, already approved.

Provision of Food to Trinity - £13k. to be brought forward from 2014/15 into 2013/14.  A part of the saving would be achieved by any increase in charge for 2013/14 already approved.

Office Accommodation - £7k. to be brought forward from 2014/15 into 2013/14.  The Adult Placement Service had already moved from Washington Chambers in Penarth to Hen Goleg.

Care Packages Budget Reduction – increase the 2013/14 saving of £620k. by £65k.  This was thought to be achievable based on the level of current commitments.

Managed Budget Reduction – reduce the 2013/14 saving of £300k. by £117k.  £65k. to be transferred to the Care Packages Budget and £52k. to be put back to 2014/15 to compensate for schemes being brought forward.

 

The Social Services Directorate was committed to achieving a balanced budget.  The corporate programme board and project teams overseeing the plan would continue to monitor and ensure its delivery.  Progress updates would be reported on a monthly basis as part of the overall financial monitoring report for the Directorate.

 

Discussions ensued about the size of the total Care Package budget and the savings that were being required to be met from it.  In reply, Members were advised that the total budget was some £24m. and that the savings required were of the order of 3%. 

 

The budget reductions were challenging, and being managed.  Less people are being supported, but the ones that are require a greater level of involvement.  Furthermore, more people are being admitted to hospital which has an impact on the Council’s discharge services.

 

In referring to the First Steps negotiation with the Welsh Government, Committee were advised that the Welsh Government had allocated a sum of £3.2m. for the current financial year and that it would be allocated by means of a grant.  The amount allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan Council would not cover the loss of income. 

 

There was a need to look at the way in which the level of the gap was set in future years. 

 

In referring to paragraphs A17 and A18 of Appendix 1 to the report, Committee were advised that the figures quoted were estimated and would require more work in the future. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme during 2012/13 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the changes to the Social Services Budget Plan for 2013/14 to 2016/17 as outlined above be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the progress made to date in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme.

 

(2)       That a revised Budget Plan to 2016/17 be approved, as had been requested by Cabinet on 25th February 2013.

 

 

29        UPDATE REPORT: MANAGING ALLEGATIONS OF PROFESSIONAL ABUSE – COMPLIANCE WITH PART IV OF THE ALL WALES CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES (DSS) –

 

Committee received a report which assured that the Council complies with the requirements of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures as they relate to managing allegations of professional abuse.

 

The Council took very seriously its responsibility for complying with Part IV of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures 2008 which dealt specifically with the handling of professional abuse cases.  The Council was able to demonstrate that allegations involving professionals were pursued rigorously.

 

In this context, the allegations of abuse may involve all professionals, employees and volunteers working for or accredited by a public, voluntary, private agency, place of worship or faith organisation or independent contractor, whose work brought them into contact with children.  Allegations of abuse may be made against an individual employee in either their private life or their working capacity.

 

Where these allegations involve Council staff, serious matters that may constitute gross misconduct were supported by suspension of the employee(s), subject to investigation.  In all instances, such issues were determined by a Head of Service or above.  Any allegation of potential abuse brought to the attention of Human Resources was referred immediately to the safeguarding unit in Social Services and advice obtained.  Should allegations be made against education and school staff, discussions always took place between the designated officers for safeguarding in Social Services and the Learning and Skills Directorates.  When taking forward action that could potentially involve suspending, dismissing or terminating the contract of a Vale employee, the Managing Director and the Leader were advised at the point of application or shortly after, if they were unavailable.

 

Appropriate attendance at strategy meetings to agree how investigating agencies would manage the allegation was determined by the designated safeguarding officer in Social Services, who chaired all strategy meetings under Part IV of the All Wales Child Protection Procedures.  Where allegations involved education staff, the Head or Deputy Head would attend the strategy meeting (unless the allegation relates to them), plus the designated safeguarding officer in the Learning and Skills Directorate. 

 

Police representatives attend all strategy meetings.  In every case of professional abuse, the meeting always considered whether a criminal investigation was appropriate. 

 

Outcome review meetings were convened as appropriate to review progress and to manage risk until the matters had been properly concluded.

 

At the time of the previous six monthly report, three investigations remained ongoing.  Two of these investigations have concluded: one involving investigation by the Police and referral to the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the General Teaching Council for Wales and the other concluding with investigation by the employer.  The third matter remained ongoing and was now subject to ongoing Court proceedings.

 

Between 1st September 2012 and 31st March 2013, 18 allegations of professional abuse received by Social Services crossed the threshold for a strategy meeting.  16 had been concluded, and two were the subject of ongoing Police investigation and the conclusion of Court proceedings. 

 

Eight of the 18 allegations involved Vale of Glamorgan Council staff, five in Social Services (foster carers)  and three in Learning in Skills.  Two of the 18 related to self-employed individuals, three to volunteers and one to the public sector.  The remaining four concerned staff in independent sector residential care and fostering. 

 

Of the 16 concluded matters:

  • six of the allegations were retracted
  • six were investigated by the Police (four jointly with Social Services)
  • four were investigated by Social Services.

16 of the 18 allegations involved investigation by the employer / voluntary organisation in addition to Social Services and / or Police investigation or as an action agreed by the strategy group.

 

In two of the 16 concluded matters, individuals had been charged with offences.  In respect of the matters not yet concluded, two individuals were awaiting Court prosecution.  Where disciplinary processes had been instigated, two concluded matters had resulted in the dismissal of staff and one in foster carers being de-registered.  The remainder involved additional training requirements for staff or additions and amendments to policies and procedures.  Referral to relevant regulatory and professional bodies and to the Independent Safeguarding Authority had been undertaken as appropriate.

 

Members enquired as to the number of allegations that had been made in the previous six months, but this information was not available.

 

Members were advised that the Council has established a Safe Recruitment Policy, which represented a major milestone for the Council.  It was further reported that the Director of Social Services, the Head of Human Resources and the Director of Learning and Development separately reported to CMT on a six monthly basis and the view was put that it would be helpful if each of these reports were submitted to Cabinet. 

 

Members enquired as to how many of the reported incidents could have been prevented through proper training and were advised that it would require analysis on a case by case basis to answer that question.  This information however could be included in the next such report to Committee.

 

The view was expressed that, whilst the report gave Members the numbers of allegations, it did not provide the background to those allegations.  As such, the report presented difficulty to the Members achieving a full understanding of the issues.  It was suggested that a flow chart for each individual case be presented to Committee in future.

 

Having considered the content of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report and the work undertaken to ensure best practice in managing allegations of professional abuse be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Director of Social Services provide a report on a six monthly basis about how allegations of professional abuse have been managed by the Council. 

 

(3)       T H A T the report be presented to Cabinet for information.

 

(4)       T H A T the reports prepared six monthly for CMT by the Head of Human Resources and Director of Learning and Development be also reported to Cabinet.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-4)    To ensure that the Council has in place effective arrangements for overseeing this key area of work for safeguarding children.