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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 15th June, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin,  E. Hacker, H.C. Hamilton, Dr. I.J. Johnson, J.W. Thomas, S.T. Wiliam and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.  

 

Also present: Councillor S.C. Egan.

 

 

89            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs M.E.J. Birch (Vice-Chairman) and Councillor Mrs R. Birch

 

 

90            MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 21st May, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

91            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

           

92            CARE COUNCIL FOR WALES PRESENTATION BY MR. GERRY EVANS -

 

For this item, the Committee welcomed Mr. Gerry Evans, the Director of Regulation and Professional Standards from the Care Council for Wales.  Mr. Evans began his presentation by advising Members that the Care Council for Wales was established following the Care Standards Act of 2000. The Care Council was tasked with regulation of the social care workforce. This created a need for proper social work training and a responsibility for ensuring that there was a high level of skill within the sector of social care.

 

He went on to advise Members of changes to come and that the new Regulation and Inspection Bill for Social Care (Wales) Bill 2015 would have significant impact upon care within Wales.  He explained that the Care Council for Wales would be renamed 'Social Care Wales’ and that the regulatory functions for the Care Council for Wales would continue as would regulation of social worker care training. In addition to these, under the Bill, the Care Council would receive new areas of responsibility.  The Care Council of Wales would undertake research to better understand priority areas and would conduct analysis around workforce planning.  The Care Council would also assist Local Authorities with service improvement around new ways of working and service models and the Care Council would also consider public information around social care, particularly in relation to the Social Care Act and new preventative services.

 

In relation to current and future workforce challenges, the Committee was advised that within Wales, there were over 70,000 individuals working within the social care sector and that this was larger than the NHS (in Wales).  Within the sector, it had been recognised that as there was an ageing workforce and a forecast increase in dementia, there would be a requirement for an additional 20,000 care workers. The annual turnover of staff was around 25% with approximately 60% of staff content to remain, which indicated a high job satisfaction rate.

 

Mr Evans alluded to the challenge around addressing the need for proper terms and conditions of employment, particularly in the private sector. Members were advised that care work was no longer a simple undertaking and was becoming more complex with more health related tasks. This was likely to increase following the implementation of the Social Services and Wellbeing Act.

 

The Care Council of Wales current priorities therefore were around maintaining existing functions around regulation and the development of the social care workforce.  It was also working on the implementation of the Regulation and Inspection Bill that would include changes to regulatory functions and the requirement of establishing consistent social care practices across Wales.  This would ultimately lead to a revised Code of Professional Practice for Social Care that would result in increased training resources for Social Services. 

 

 

93            THE SOCIAL SERVICES WORKFORCE (DSS) –

 

As a follow up to the presentation on the Care Council for Wales, the Head of Business Management and Innovation, presented a report; the purpose of which was to provide Members with information regarding workforce matters specific to Social Services in the Vale of Glamorgan. Mr Evans from the Care Council for Wales remained for this item to answer any questions.

 

The report outlined that the reputation of the Directorate for delivering highly regarded and value for money services was linked strongly to the fact that the service benefits from having a skilled, engaged and motivated staff group.  Social Services would remain committed to ensuring the recruitment and retention of excellent staff and a working environment which allowed such staff to develop and give of their best. 

 

The staff were employed across a wide range of services, some of which operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The skills mix and level of expertise required to undertake this variety of roles was extensive.  At the end of March 2015, 619 staff were employed in the service, which equated to 511 Full Time Equivalent staff.

 

At a time of budget constraints and rising demands, it was essential that the service continued to focus on staff development and succession planning, especially in remodelling services to meet changing public expectations and other pressures such as the need for more integrated working across organisational and professional boundaries.  The next few years would require innovative approaches to training and development as the service responds to the duties set out in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.  It would be increasingly important to be able to update and replenish the existing skill base. 

 

Beyond the Service’s in-house staff, there were over 1,500 people working in the social care sector in the Vale of Glamorgan employed by the commercial and third sectors.  They too provided support in a wide range of settings including people’s homes, residential and nursing homes, and day service settings.  Many of these services were commissioned by the Council on behalf of people who were eligible for state-funded care and support.  The Social Services Directorate was required to work with the wider social care sector in the area to support providers in developing and delivering workforce plans for all staff.

 

The Workforce Plan for Social Services 2015 – 19 identified the following key developmental themes for the service:

 

·         Ensuring fluidity in staff movement within and across team whilst providing a culture that supports staff through change.  The flexibility of staff would be a key component as services develop.

·         Increasing resilience within teams to ensure that changes in the skill mix enabled the Directorate to use its diverse workforce appropriately and to operate services at the appropriate scale through collaboration with partners.  This would include reducing the amount of routine work done by the Directorate’s most professionally qualified staff and taking advantage of increased qualification levels at lower grades.

·         Integrating services across social care and health, which would require staff groups to work in different ways and across organisational boundaries.  This would mean not only developing management structures and business systems, but also changes in practice.

·         Encouraging staff to become more skilled in using new technology to support agile working and improve service delivery.

·         Placing further emphasis on having succession plans in place, as we had an ageing workforce (particularly at the Team Manager tiers).  This requires the service to ensure that current and future managers are equipped with the skills required to manage modern Social Services through the implementation of a Team Manager Development Programme.

·         Helping staff to understand the requirements of major legislative changes, to identify implications this may have for our workforce particularly in terms of ratios of professionally qualified and unqualified staff.

·         Continuing to focus on reducing service reliance on agency staff.

·         Implementing the Continuing Professional Education and Learning (CPEL) Framework for Social Workers which aimed to improve the standard of social work practice and to support social workers as they progressed from being newly qualified to experienced social workers at the top of their profession.

 

The training programme for social care in the Vale of Glamorgan was developed annually and reflected the training requirements identified through the Council's Personal Development Review process and the training returns submitted by social care providers from across the area.  The Programme also reflected the future requirements of the sector by including training to meet changes required due to legislative changes or service developments.  Training was made available to all social care providers across the Vale, who were encouraged to release their staff to attend the broad spectrum of training available.

 

In addition to training and development, there were a number of support mechanisms for staff within social services.  It was the policy of the Directorate that supervision was the right of every member of staff regardless of their role or grade or employment status (including permanent, temporary, part time, casual/relief staff or agency).  The provision of supervision and development opportunities to staff was part of good management practice and the establishment of effective working practices.

 

There are four principal, interdependent functions of supervision:

 

·         To enable effective management of work to take place.

·         To facilitate staff development.

·         To provide support to staff.

·         To promote clear communication at all levels.

 

These provided benefits both to the organisation and individual members of staff.

 

The report highlighted that staff turnover rates for the service in 2014/15 were 7.92% (7.8% in 2013/14).  By way of comparison, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (2013) reported that the overall turnover rate across all sectors in the UK was 11.9% whilst the turnover rate for the public sector was 9.4%.  Data reported by the Local Government Data Unit and the Wales Local Government Service indicated that the turnover rate in local authorities within Wales was 9.5% in 2013/14. 

 

In terms of absence figures, for this the Service showed a slight increase in the average number of days lost per Full Time Equivalent in 2014/15.  This figure was 12.65% as compared to 11.72% in the previous year.  The Service would assist staff in order to remain in work and offered a range of support for those who were off due to ill health.  This included access to occupational health services, reduced hours to support a return to work, access to counselling services and redeployment if appropriate.

 

During 2015/16 the Service would consider the options for increasing the scale on which social care training was delivered in partnership with other local authorities.  A programme of training would be devised which would include issues arising as a result of implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act and the changes being made to services as a result of service reconfiguration and integration.

 

It was also planned that the Service would work towards the establishment of a Regional Social Care Workforce Partnership that would provide strong leadership and direction for the sector, ensuring appropriate representation and engagement from all parts of the sector, and from users and carers.  It was planned to have this in place by September 2015.

 

As previously mentioned by Mr Evans from the Care Council for Wales, there would also be considerable ramifications for the social care workforce as a consequence of the Regulation and Inspection Bill Wales.  This should receive Royal Assent by the end of 2015.  Potentially, this Bill would increase considerably the duties of service providers, especially in taking responsibility for the skills and conduct of staff.

 

In relation to financial support, training in Social Services was supported via the Social Care Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) from the Welsh Government which provided financial assistance to local authorities in meeting the training requirements of the social care sector.

 

This grant was intended as a significant supplement to employers’ own resources to provide training and development opportunities across the social care sector.  The grant was distributed using the Standard Spending Assessment formula with 70% of the total spend being funded by grant and 30% funded by the local authority.  In 2015/16, the Vale of Glamorgan total spend supported via this grant was £389,779. 

 

The level of funding available directly to local authorities had been reduced in the current year and this was likely to continue.  In addition, there was likely to be increased prescription about meeting central government objectives.  The potential impact of any changes in this area on the development and support opportunities available for social care staff across the sector was currently being assessed.

 

In response to the Committee’s query regarding the level of low pay and the impact of the 'Living Wage’ within the care sector, Mr. Evans advised Members that the Care Council for Wales received annual reports about this issue.  It had been observed that in some areas, care providers were asking a lot for the pay offered which did not fully reflect the role undertaken.  In relation to the 'Living Wage’, Mr. Evans stated that anything that would effectively increase the sense of value by staff would be welcomed.  He went on to allude to the impact of the variance of pay between care sectors and the issue of people moving to the health sector once trained up within the care profession.  Discussions on awareness of this were ongoing particularly in relation to the issues of budgets.  This was a long term problem that would need to be addressed. 

 

A Committee Member sought clarification of roles and responsibilities of the workforce and was advised that the CSSIW and the inspection regime had an important role within this. Members were further advised that the Act would create greater operational requirements for Health and Social Care to work differently and the Bill would promote national programmes as opposed to more local service provision and structures.

 

The Chairman then commented that in general terms the level of workforce pay was not good and he queried whether there was a likelihood of an increase in the level of recruitment from overseas.  In response, Mr. Evans advised that the sector may already be seeing this particularly in certain parts of Wales but that this was not on a major scale.  He explained the need to inform prospective employees of the current career opportunities and to ensure that staff within the sector were fully valued.  It was also important to challenge some of the myths within the sector and that the choice to work within the care sector was a good one. 

 

A Committee Member stated that as a Trade Union representative she had noted that pay was not the only issue and that there was a problem around promoting the long term opportunities for individuals.  The Member stated that she would also like to see more younger people attracted into the sector. Mr. Evans stated that he agreed with the Member’s views and that it was important to ensure that carers felt valued and that their work was fully appreciated. 

 

In response to a Committee Member’s query regarding the views of Trade Unions, the Committee was advised that the Unions would be happy as long as the opinions of their Members were properly considered when new policies were being developed. 

 

Having considered the presentation from Mr Evans and the Social Services Workforce report the Committee:

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee notes the issues regarding the social care workforce and the challenges facing the Directorate in ensuring that social care services are delivered in a timely, effective, safe and professional way across all sectors.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee notes the changes to the Social Care Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) Grant funding.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Elected Members exercise proper oversight of the key functions within the Social Services Directorate.

 

(2)       To ensure Elected Members are aware of recent funding changes that will have an impact on training and development work undertaken by Social Services.

 

 

94            DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR END OF YEAR 2014-15 (REF) –

 

On 11th May 2015, Cabinet was apprised of the Council’s performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) during the financial year 2014-15. 

 

The Council had a statutory duty to consider and approve applications for DFGs where there was an identified need and the property could be reasonably adapted.  DFGs would fund the adaptation of privately owned homes to allow residents to live as independently as possible in their own home for as long as possible. 

 

The time to deliver a DFG was a national performance indicator.  The Council had previously acknowledged its performance in delivering DFGs had to be improved.  Significant improvement was achieved in 2013/14 (284 days) and further improvement had been achieved during 2014/15 which had seen the time taken to deliver a DFG reduced to 199 days.  Performance of the DFG service continued to improve year on year.  A detailed breakdown of the DFG service performance at the end of 2014/15 was attached in the DFG Performance Review at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Improvement was in part due to the introduction of the framework contract during the Autumn of 2014.  As more grants in the system benefit from this contract arrangement, the greater the benefit to the client from the increased delivery time.

 

In addition to introducing the framework contract for builders, during 2014/15 the DFG service undertook a consultation event with clients.  This event took place on 3rd March 2015 and clients who had accessed the service were invited to speak to the team about their experience and their opinion was sought on improvements that were recommended.  Through this event it was noted that the service was valued by customers and adaptations installed had made a difference to their day to day life.

 

During Quarter 4, the Business Improvement Team concluded work with the DFG service using the Business Improvement Toolkit to identify improvements in the service.  Using lean service improvement methodology, staff from C1V, occupational therapists and grant officers were led through a two day workshop in order to define the existing process, identify bottlenecks and areas of duplication, and collate process improvement suggestions.  In addition, the time taken to deliver a number of service requests were mapped against each identified process and decision stage in order to highlight the potential consequence of each current action.  Staff were subsequently tasked with returning to their workplace and making the changes in order to enhance the delivery of the service and to free up capacity.  These actions that were agreed and the ideas to the introduced where workable were included in Appendix 2 to the report.

 

A Committee Member in querying the national definition for calculating the time to provide a Disability Facilities Grant was advised that the Council had not changed the starting point in which the calculation of the length of time would begin.  Also the service was not aware of any changes and a recent Welsh Audit Office report on the DFG service would be circulated to Members in due course.

 

In terms of how the improved performance would be maintained, the Committee was advised that the service relied upon the excellent input of the Principal Housing and Pollution Officer, who had been able to improve the systems and processes. It was hoped that further improvements would be made in streamlining the process.  Further to this, a Committee Member queried whether this was a Corporate Priority and if there were any plans to rejig or change the level of resources within the service.  In response, the Head of Adult Services confirmed that improvement to the DFG performance was within the Corporate Plan. He also stated that as a whole the Council would not want to do anything that reversed the current level of performance, but there was always a need to ensure that no part of the service was over resourced.

 

The Committee requested the Head of Adult Services to clarify with the Wales Audit Office as to when its review of the DFG service in the Vale would be published.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report on performance for delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during 2014-15 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress made on process changes to improve the delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, writes a letter of thanks and gratitude to the staff within the Disabled Facilities Grant service for the improved performance.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note the Council’s performance in delivering Disabled Facilities Grants during 2014-15.

 

(2)       To note the progress made to improve the Council’s delivery of Disabled Facilities Grants.

 

(3)       To offer the Committee’s thanks and gratitude to staff and in recognition of the improved level of service delivery.

 

 

95            UPDATE ON THE SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET PROGRAMME 2014/15 AND 2015/16 (DSS) –

 

The Committee was updated on the progress made in delivering the 2014/15 Social Services Budget Programme and to request amendments to the 2015/16 Programme. 

 

During 2014/15, the Directorate was required to find savings totalling £454,000.  The table below provided a summary of the status of each of the saving schemes.  All savings targets were achieved during the year and Appendix 1 to the report provided further details on each of the individual schemes. 

 

Project

Target Saving £000

Actual Saving £000

Position

 

CHILDREN’S

LAC Residential Placements

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

Achieved

Foster Carers

 

34

34

Achieved

TOTAL CHILDREN’S

184

184

 

 

 

 

 

ADULTS

Managed Budget Reductions

 

 

52

 

 

52

 

 

Achieved

Supported Accom - Learning Disabilities

25

25

Achieved

Extra Care

75

75

Achieved

Day Service Modernisation

93

93

Achieved

Right Sizing Learning Disabilities Project

 

25

25

Achieved

TOTAL ADULTS

270

270

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL SAVINGS

454

454

 

 

In terms of the 2015/16 programme, the Directorate was currently required to find savings totalling £3.568m by the end of 2019/20 and this target was detailed further by year in the following table.  The surplus shown and the savings brought forward figures were as a result of the foster carer recruitment project, which was being developed in addition to the required savings targets.  This surplus could be used to mitigate any increase in savings to be found in future years. 

 

Year

Savings Required

£000

Savings Identified

£000

In Year Surplus / (Shortfall)

£000

Cumulative Surplus / (Shortfall)

£000

Savings Brought Forward

 

34

34

34

2015/16

1,465

1,541

76

110

2016/17

1,133

1,209

76

186

2017/18

320

320

0

186

2018/19

320

320

0

186

2019/20

330

330

0

186

TOTAL

3,568

3,754

 

 

 

All savings had been reviewed to determine if they were still the most appropriate way of achieving the required savings for each service area.  It had now been proposed that three of the Children’s Services 2015/16 savings be merged into one and realised in a different way to previously planned.  Originally, £100,000 was to be achieved through a staffing review (C16) and £60,000 through a review of the short breaks provision (C17).  It was now proposed that these two savings be amalgamated with the £20,000 Managed Budget Reduction saving (C12) and be identified through a reduction in the Legal budget and other service provision budgets, where spending over the last three years had been reviewed and were it had been identified that the budget allocations could be safely reduced. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report provided a draft update on the individual areas of saving, which incorporated the proposed changes.

 

With reference to the substantial level of savings required this financial year and also next, officers were asked to comment on the likelihood of their service area meeting the agreed savings targets.  The Head of Adult Services began by stating that the main challenge for his service area would be around a reduction in the care packages budget.  He was confident the level of savings would be achieved this year but was less confident for 2016/17, as there were more concerns around an increase in demand for services.  He also stated that the service had a good track record of achieving savings. 

 

In relation to Children’s Services, the Head of Children and Young People Services commented that she was confident that the savings would be achieved this year.  She confirmed the service were looking ahead to the savings targets for next year and beginning preparations to achieve these.  The challenge for Children’s Services will be to ensure that sufficient resources were invested in early intervention and prevention. 

 

For her service area, the Head of Business Management and Innovation explained that the main area of concern was in relation to the contract for domiciliary care for 2016/17.  She alluded to the concerns raised previously by Mr. Evans from the Care Council for Wales, mainly in relation to low pay and the need to support and value staff working within the care sector. 

 

The Chairman queried how the budget savings would be managed within Adult Services.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that there were a variety of savings proposals and that every budget line had been examined such as the cost of printing and the amount allocated for transport and mileage.  The service had deliberately not filled certain vacancies and had not made any compulsory redundancies.  The service would also manage reductions through improving the skill mix of staff, such as by replacing care practitioners with social care officers. 

 

Further to this, a Committee Member enquired whether the initial focus for reductions would be around back office functions.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that this was an approach that had been taken since he came to the authority but it was important to recognise that without many back office functions the front line would not work effectively.  Certain back office functions were therefore vital and he stated that he did not see an inflated managerial structure, which from his perspective, was one of the leanest within Wales.  To answer the Member’s query directly he stated that the service would avoid cuts to front line services. 

 

A Committee Member queried the issue around the sustainability of services over the next two to three years, when factoring in the current level of savings required.  The Director of Social Services stated that the whole issue around sustainability was far larger than this or any Council could realistically consider on its own.  He explained that in terms of the increased demand, within a few years a quarter of people would be aged over 65 and there would be an increase of 10% in the number of five to ten year olds. Both of these represented an incredible challenge for any local authority.  The service also had an aging workforce which would impact upon services.  There is a need for central government to resolve long-standing concerns about the policy vacuum in respect of paying for care.

 

The Director stated that there was a need to be realistic about what Councils could do when faced with year on year cuts to their budgets.  The service was working on best case scenarios based upon current national financial figures.  He also alluded to the Reshaping Services agenda which asked services how demand could be met through different ways.  For this, a main strategy would be around preventative services but the Director explained that there was no evidence to support the view that these new ways of working would realise budget savings.  From 2018, current pathways indicate that there would be a £4 million budget shortfall and this was a challenge for the authority.  At the moment, the service had an effective savings programme and had dealt with the more straight forward savings but more difficult decisions needed to be made.  He commented, that by 2025, current projections showed that, unless the pattern of services changes radically, almost all the Council’s budget would be spent on either education or social care services and that allocated resources would still not be enough to meet future demand within these two areas.  This represented a fundamental crisis for the next 10 years. 

 

Finally in terms of the financial settlement from the Welsh Government, Members were advised, that July would be the most likely time when the Directorate would have an idea of the position.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T progress made in delivering the Social Services Budget Programme during 2014/15 be noted and referred to Cabinet for information.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed changes to the 2015/16 programme be considered and referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       That the proposed amendments to the programme are approved.

 

 

96            REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH APRIL 2015 (DSS) –

 

The purpose of the report was to advise the Scrutiny Committee of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st to 30th April 2015 regarding those budgets that formed the remit of the Committee.

 

As it was very early in the financial year, the current forecast for Social Services was a balanced budget.  In addition to increased demand for services, there was pressure on the Directorate to achieve its savings targets for 2015/16 onwards. 

 

A table and graph setting out the variance between profiled budget and actual expenditure to date and the projected position at year end were attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

In respect of Children and Young People’s Services, the major issue concerning this service for the coming year would be the continued pressure on the children’s placement budget.  Any increase in the number of children becoming looked after by the Council over the year could have a significant impact on the service.  The joint budget for residential placements for Looked After Children was set this year at £3.27m. 

 

For Adult Services, the major issue concerning this service would be the continuing pressure on the Community Care Packages budget.  This budget was extremely volatile and could be adversely affected by outside influences.  The service would strive to manage demand, which would be supported by the continuation of changes, as a result of the initiatives funded via regional grants.  The Committee would be advised of these changes as they arise throughout the year.  From April 2015, Welsh Government had approved an increase in the weekly cap for charging for non-residential services from £55 to £60 per week. 

 

The Directorate would again receive funding from Welsh Government for regional initiatives.

 

These would include the Intermediate Care Fund (ICF) grant which would now be administrated by the University Health Board.  For the first three months of the year, £136,000 of initial funding had been allocated for schemes within the Vale, to enable the continuation of the communication hub, accommodation solution team, third sector funding and extra care schemes.  Members were advised that a further funding request had been made to Health but confirmation had not yet been received.

 

For 2015/16, the Welsh Government had allocated £533,000 of Regional Collaboration Funding (RCF) to the Vale of Glamorgan.  This would be used to continue work to deliver transformational social care change projects across Cardiff and the Vale and to ensure synergy with other grant funding streams such as ICF and to provide programme management support for integrating social care and health services in partnership with Cardiff and vale University Health Board.

 

In addition, Welsh Government had approved £415,000 Delivering Transformation grant to the Vale for the current year.  This would allow the regional consortium to continue the support for the regional implementation of the Sustainable Social Services for Wales Programme and, in particular, implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th April 2015.  Not included were requests for unspent committed expenditure to be slipped from 2014/15 into 2015/16.  A request for the slippage would be included in the Closing Down report presented to a future Cabinet meeting. 

 

Members were further advised that for the ICF grant, agreement with health was being sought for those service areas that this money supported.  The Director of Social Services alluded to what he described as a bidding process for funding from health and that the service was reflecting on what projects should be supported. He stated that the relevant members of staff had been informed that their positions would remain open until September.  It was hoped, that a longer term decision could be made in the next few weeks.  Further to this point, the Head of Adult Services stated that previously it had been envisaged that this would be cleared up within the first three months of this financial year and he stated that if health had decided not to support certain programmes the service would disinvest from these areas, but that the service would need to honour staff contracts until September.

 

A Committee Member referring to the £400,000 allocated for a new Community Care IT system was advised that this money had been carried forward from the previous financial year in order to procure a new joint Health and Social Services Information System.  Members were advised that a number of authorities had already decided to purchase this system but for the Vale it had questioned the merits of being a pioneer of such an initiative and it may be prudent to wait until the optimum time to purchase.

 

In answer to the Committee’s query regarding Looked after Children and the number of external placements, Members were advised that the report regarding the Annual Placement Review would be presented at the next meeting and this would provide far more in-depth information and insight.  The Head of Children and Young People’s Services stated that most external placements outside the authority were for specialist services which no sizeable local authority would be able to set up and run.  Therefore, in certain circumstances, there would always be a need for such specialist placements. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2015/16 Revenue and Capital Monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

97            IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELL-BEING (WALES) ACT 2014 (DSS) –

 

The Committee was presented with it’s the third monthly update in respect of the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. 

 

On the 21st May 2015, the Scrutiny Committee received an update on the readiness to implement the Act.  This included:

 

·         Quarter 4 / end of year report which set out what had been achieved using the Delivering Transformation Grant 2014/15

·         The revised Terms of Reference for the Integrated Health and Social Care Governance Board

·         The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act Regional Implementation Plan

·         The bid for the 2015/16 Delivering Transformation Grant which set out a programme for delivery for this year.

 

Members were advised that the Welsh Government reported that the results of the first public consultation which closed in February would be published imminently.  Tranche 1 regulations and codes were refined as a result of the initial consultation and were now in the process of being laid before the National Assembly for Wales.  Trance 2 regulations and codes would go through the same legislative process in November of this year. 

 

Public consultation regarding the second tranche was issued on 8th May 2015 and this would close on 31st July 2015.  Details of this tranche were as followed:

 

·         Consultation on the regulations and code of practice in relation to part 5 (Charging and Financial Assessment) of the Act

·         Consultation on the Regulations and code of practice in relation to part 6 (Looked After and Accommodated Children) of the Act

·         Consultation on the regulations and statutory guidance in relation to part 9 (Co-operation and partnership) of the Act

·         Consultation on the code of practice in relation to part 10 (Complaints, Representations and Advocacy Services) of the Act.

 

The Head of Business Management and Innovation advised Members, that in addition to the workforce engagement events already delivered for officers in Social Services, the Council was working in partnership with the Glamorgan Voluntary Service which brought together the Vale Council for Voluntary Services and the Vale Volunteer Bureau to deliver a workshop.  This would raise awareness of the Act for other Council officers as well as key partners, including health, third and independent sectors.

 

The Care Council for Wales had been funded through the Social Care and Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) Grant to develop a new Information and Learning Hub which would be constantly updated with new information, learning and awareness materials.  This would ensure that all information on the Act could be readily accessed from one site. 

 

The Regional Lead Officer for Sustainable Social Services attended a briefing session on 20th May 2015 and received information on the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act training resources, being developed by the Care Council for Wales.  These were called "Getting in on the Act" and would be used to ensure key staff received the information needed to keep them up to date.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan SCDWP Plan was submitted to Welsh Government by 29th May 2015 and a copy was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.  This detailed the social care workforce development needs, including a summary introduction across Cardiff and the Vale.  There was an expectation as part of the criteria for the SCDWP Grant that an updated regional plan would be submitted by 25th September 2015 with a move towards a fully integrated approach prepared as soon as possible. 

 

In terms of funding for 2015/16, the Committee was previously briefed that the Welsh Government would continue to support local government and its partners in making the transition to the new arrangements.  It had doubled the funding available through the Delivering Transformation Grant across Wales to £3m in 2015/16.  Subject to budgetary decisions, a further £3m in grant funding would be made available in 2016/17 to support the embedding process, with a view to transferring this sum into the Revenue Support Grant from 2017/18.  From this grant, the Welsh Government had allocated £414,648 to the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff region to continue the Delivering Transformation / sustainable social services agenda in 2015/16.  Welsh Government had now confirmed that the bid from Cardiff and the Vale had been successful.  The service would now proceed with recruitment to the new posts required to help with the preparations for the Act. 

 

In response to the Committee’s query regarding whether all regulations would be agreed by Christmas this year, the Director of Social Services explained that what was causing more anxiety was the degree of prescription within the regulations. The Directorate was struggling to understand the degree of change detailed within the Act. Welsh Government had noted the points raised through Tranche1 consultation and slight changes to the regulations had been made.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T regular updates about implementing the Act be received.

 

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

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    To ensure that Elected Members are kept informed about fundamental changes in the policy and legislative framework which underpins the work of Social Services.

 

 

98            VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL FOSTERING SERVICE (DSS) –

 

The Head of Children and Young People’s Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to update Members on the implementation of the Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy 2014/15 and to provide an overview of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) Annual Inspection 2014/15 and the Review of Quality of Care Report for 2014/15 produced by the Council.

 

The CSSIW Inspection for the Vale of Glamorgan took place in January 2015 and the inspection report was attached at Appendix 1.

 

Under Regulation 42, there was a requirement for each local authority to complete an Annual Review of the Quality of Care provided by its Fostering Service.  The Review report followed a format prescribed by the CSSIW and the report for 2014/15 was attached at Appendix 2.

 

The Children and Young People’s Services Commissioning Strategy 2013-18 identified that, where children and young people could not be supported to remain with their birth families, they would be placed with foster carers within the Vale of Glamorgan.  Where demand for placement exceeded that availability, placements would be procured from Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs) at significant additional cost and sometimes at some distance from the area.  A key priority for the division was to recruit additional in-house carers in order to reduce reliance on unnecessary IFA placements and to reduce the costs associated with providing services to Looked After Children.

 

A Foster Service Recruitment Strategy was developed and presented to Scrutiny Committee in March 2013.  The Strategy identified four key recruitment priorities for the year:

 

·         Placements for young people aged 11-16 years who present challenging and often aggressive behaviour, who may be non-school attendees and who may have difficulties with alcohol and substance misuse

·         Foster carers able to provide placements for sibling groups of two or more children

·         Respite / short breaks placements to support children to remain living at home

·         Forster carers who are willing to make a commitment to provide accommodation for young people for as long as they may require.

 

The Strategy set out the planed recruitment campaign.  This included the use of publicity, the media, advertising, presence at community events and ensuring timely and consistent responses to all enquirers. 

 

Publicity and advertising was the critical first step in the process of recruiting more foster carers.  However, it was just one step and needed to be followed by robust and timely initial screening assessments, access to appropriate training for prospective carers, progression through to full assessment and presentation to Fostering Panel for approval.

 

Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy 2014/15 and Review of the Quality of Care 2014/15 (Regulation 42)

 

The Fostering Service had been working hard to complete the actions set out in the Recruitment Strategy and the CSSIW’s Inspection Report from 2013/14.  It had been a difficult year for the Fostering Service with staff sickness being a particular issue and temporary arrangements in respect of the team manager post taking longer to resolve while the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative was being developed. 

 

Advertising activity during the year had not been as robust as the previous year and there had been a national decline in the number of initial enquiries experienced by all fostering services during the year.  From 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015 the service received 56 registrations of interest.  This was a 38% decrease on the total figure for last year (91).  Consequently, initial visits to prospective applications had been fewer too, reducing from 49 during 2013/14 to 32 for 2014/15.  The service had addressed the drop in initial enquiry figures by developing a new advertising and marketing plan which had been implemented.  This would see an increase in local and regional advertising, media events and a new design of the website. 

 

The service had sought to maximise good outcomes from the level of interest received.  Regular pre-approval training had been provided for prospective applicants, with 25 people attending since April 2014, and the service had received 11 applications for assessments.  The service had assessed and approved nine new mainstream foster carers during the year.  This had exceeded the Recruitment Strategy minimum target of six and it was an increase on last year’s figure of eight.

 

There had been a decrease in the number of de-registrations and resignations in 2014/15 (9) compared to 2013/14 (17).  There were three de-registrations of kinship carers, one was a result of the carers taking in a Special Guardianship order for the young person placed, one was due to the placement no longer being required and one was due to ill health.  There were six de-registrations / resignations of mainstream foster carers during the year, two resigned following an investigation of a complaint or allegation, one had their previous Looked After Child continuing to live with them as an adult and could no longer offer a placement, two retired and one resigned because their circumstances had changed and they no longer wanted to foster.  The number of de-registrations varied little from the six that took place in 2013/14.  The reasons for de-registrations remained similar from year to year and the data showed a very high level of stability and retention in respect of mainstream carers. 

 

The report outlined that while some children had moved from Independent Fostering Agency placements, there had been no change to the overall number of children placed during 2014/15, with the number remaining at 28.  The need to enable children and young people to move on from Independent Fostering Agency placements appropriately at the same time as reducing the need to place with Independent Fostering Agencies remained a priority for 2015/16.

 

To ensure that the service was meeting need and maximising capacity, 13 extensions and exemptions were agreed during 2014/15;  this was an increase of one compared to the previous year.  Exemptions were placements made outside the approval status set by Panel and they were used mainly for teenagers and to keep siblings placed together. 

 

The Fostering Service had delivered 66 foster carer Annual Reviews from the 75 that were due in the year (i.e. 88%).  As of 7th May this year, 88.5% of foster carers had up to date Annual Reviews / approvals.  Completion of Annual Reviews within timescales remained a priority for the team.

 

Analyses of the recruitment activity and its impact would inform how the Fostering Service and Corporate Communications would implement the future rolling programme of campaign activity. 

 

Work had been undertaken with the Corporate Communications Team to plan recruitment activity for 2015/16.  The service had recently update its website, making it more informative and user friendly.  The service had secured a year-long advertising deal with three local Tesco stores which would see billboards outside the stores and service leaflets inside.  Targeting Foster Carer Fortnight in June 2015, plans had been made to advertise on Vale of Glamorgan bus stops and roundabouts.  In addition, the service had secured advertising in local play areas, playgroups and restaurants. 

 

CSSIW Annual Inspection of the Fostering Service

 

At the time of the CSSIW Inspection in January 2015, the Fostering Service was supporting 55 mainstream and 21 relative foster carers (kinship), providing placements for 104 Looked After Children.  At the same time, 181 children and young people were Looked After by the Council. 

 

The Inspectors concluded that the Fostering Service:

 

·         Was effectively managed

·         Was child centred

·         Had good systems for consultation and quality assurance

·         Provided good support and guidance to foster carers and

·         Was responsive to addressing issues raised by inspections or audits.

 

A number of improvements made since the 2015 inspection were validated.  These included the development of a policy on foster carers who were also child minders, monitoring the educational attainment of children placed with foster carers and a focus on safeguarding training for foster carers. 

 

The Inspectors identified two areas of non-compliance and improvement.  These were seen as isolated breaches and not representative of the Fostering Service as a whole. 

 

The first related to one foster carer whose DBS check had expired before a new one had been processed.  Foster carers were subject to DBS checks on a three yearly basis, a monitoring system was in place to ensure renewals were applied for before checks expired.

 

The second area related to ensuring joint carers both receive regular ongoing refreshing training.  Where there were joint applications to become foster carers (e.g. husband and wife), both would receive "Skills to Foster" and induction training.  Following their approval, it was usually the case that one carer would become the main carer and would attend the majority of professional development training.  However, the service would need to ensure that all carers received at least the minimum amount of training.  This had been an ongoing issue and one where the service had made considerable progress.  The service had now developed e-learning training and evening training for those carers who may work during the day.

 

The Chairman in questioning the level of sickness and service resilience was advised that at present, the Fostering Service did have a few staff members on sickness, one short term and one long term.  Members were advised that sickness levels could not be predicted but the service was robust and there were enough staff for the service to cope. In addition, the Committee noted that the service team manager post had now been appointed subject to checks and references.

 

A Committee Member, in querying the fluctuations in the number of children looked after was advised that it was a coincidence that last year’s end figure of 181 children in care matched the number of children in care at the start of the year.  The Committee was also advised that for the first quarter this had increased to 197 children, which demonstrated the significant challenge facing the service.  The increase was mainly as a result of a number of sibling groups and an increase in the number of placements made with parents which, whilst supporting children to remain within their families, is made under a Care Order and therefore defines the child as looked after.  

 

In querying the Foster Carer Recruitment process, the Committee was advised that there were three stages.  The first was around pre-approval training and the second was the assessment part. The assessment stage was very rigorous and thorough and could last six months. Some could take longer to complete than others.  The final process was presentation to the Panel for approval.

 

In answer the Committee’s follow up questions, Members were informed that the service would chase up prospective applicants who had enquired to become a foster carer. Also, foster carers would be entitled to two weeks annual leave per year with additional respite available if needed.  The Committee noted that at present the service did not have any gay or lesbian foster carers, although the service had seen some gay and lesbian couples approved as adopters.  The service was unsure as to why there were no gay or lesbian foster carers and Members were advised that the service did actively encourage all sectors of society to participate in the process. 

 

A Committee Member raised two points regarding the level of training for carers and the number of placements with Independent Foster Agencies. The Committee noted that there were 3 skill levels - 1,2 and 3. These were a competency based skill rating and each carer was reviewed on a yearly basis. As highlighted in the report, one of the priorities of the Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy was the reduction in the demand for IFA placements by 25%. Members where advised that a key to achieving this would be around the level of pay offered to carers as a way of attracting their services.  The Committee was further informed that the retention level of foster cares within the service was good and the main reason for de-registrations was retirement.

 

The Operational Manager, Children and Young Peoples Services in response to the Committee’s concerns regarding the decline in the number of enquiries for foster carers advised that the service shared the Committee’s concerns.  Despite the reduction in the number of enquiries the service was on track to meet its targets with 7 foster carers already being assessed this year.  She reassured the Committee that a great deal of work was devoted to recruitment and that the service strategy was robust.  Further to this, the Head of Children and Young People Services commented that the service had broadened the registration categories of carers within the service.  There was also an intention to explore development of the therapeutic side of the service to offer additional support to children and carers, and to reduce the need to utilise 'specialist’ placements/interventions at high cost.

 

Having considered the report, the Scrutiny Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made to date in implementing the Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the content of the Quality of Care Report and the positive findings of the CSSIW Annual Inspection be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Chairman write to all Foster Carers in the Vale of Glamorgan on behalf of the Committee in order to offer the Committee’s thanks and appreciation.

 

(4)       T H A T, in future, reports to the Committee be presented following Foster Care Fortnight.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To enable the Scrutiny Committee to exercise oversight of this key activity within Children and Young People’s Services and to assure Committee that the Council’s statutory functions in relation to providing a Regulated Fostering Service are fully met in accordance with legislation and guidance.

 

(3)       To offer the Committee’s thanks and congratulations.

 

(4)       To allow the Committee to receive extra information and feedback.

 

 

99            SOCIAL SERVICES END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15 (DSS) –

 

The purpose of the report was to present to Members the Social Services end of year performance results for the period 1st April 2014 to 31st March 2015 as outlined within Appendix 1.

 

Overall, Social Services had completed 70% of Service Plan actions at year end, with a further 10% on track for a later completion date.  There were a total of 30 actions within the Plan; 21 were completed, 3 were on track and 6 had slipped.  The 3 actions that were on track were due to be completed in March 2016.  Of the 6 slipped actions, 4 would be progressed and carried forward to the 2015/16 Service Plan and 2 would be deleted. 

 

The Directorate had completed 86% of the actions against the Corporate Plan that were included in the 2014/15 Service Plan.  Of the 14 actions within the Service Plan, 12 were completed and 2 had slipped. 

 

In relation to the Improvement Objectives, 8 (89%) of the service’s 9 actions had been completed while 11% (1) had slipped.  There were 15 measures relating to the Improvement Objectives.  Of these, 8 (53%) had met or exceeded target, 5 (33%) were within 10% of target, 1 (7%) had missed target by more than 10% and performance status was not available for 1 (7%) measure.  The Indicator that had missed target by more than 10% related to SCC044b.  Reason for the underperformance and proposed remedial action was contained within the appendix.

 

Of the 78 Performance Indicators in the Plan, 45 (58%) met or exceeded target at end of year, 17(22%) were within 10% of target and 6 (8%) missed target by more than 10%.  Performance status was not available for the remaining 10 (12%) Indicators.  The six Indicators that had missed target related to SS/M007, SCA/007, SCA/002a, SCC/044b, SS/M008a and OA3/M27. 

 

In terms of notable service achievements during the year, Children and Young People Services had demonstrated improvement in the time taken to complete initial and core assessments.  Some of this achievement has been made as a result of a temporary allocation of additional resources in the Intake Team. 

 

Other achievements within Children and Young People Services, included a rise in the percentage of Personal Education Plans (PEPs) being completed, up from 40% in 2013/14 to 97% in 2014/15. The Committee also noted the good work undertaken around the Family Information Service and the work on tackling child poverty for families in need.

 

In addition, the Committee noted the improvement in the performance for Delayed Transfers of Care compared to the previous year and the opening of Golau Caredig, the first Extracare scheme in the Vale

 

A Committee Member in querying the annual target setting for performance indicator, OA3/M26 (Rate per 1,000 population of over 65s who have had a UA assessment), was advised that this did represent the revised figure for 2014/15.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement with Welsh Government 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2014-15 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       To consider the Social Services end of year performance results as at 31st March 2015 in order to highlight areas for service improvement.

 

 

100            TARGET SETTING 2015-16 (DSS) –

 

The report detailed proposed targets for improvement for 2015-16 for all Performance Indicators reported by Social Services.

 

Through the national performance improvement framework, the Council had an obligation to collect, monitor and report on a number of Performance Indicators as set by the Welsh Government to measure their shared priorities with local authorities, these being National Statutory Indicators (NSIs) and Public Accountability Measures (PAMs). The Council also reported against a set of local Performance Indicators which it had developed to help measure progress against its local priorities. 

 

All measures would be reviewed annually to ensure that these reflected changes in national policy, and remained responsive to local priorities.  It would also ensure residents, Elected Members and senior officers could scrutinise key areas of Council performance throughout the year.  The Council’s approach to target setting was set out within the Target Setting template as outlined at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Outlined in Appendix 2 to the report was a full suite of Performance Indicators that would continue to be collected and reported on during 2015/16.  Against each Indicator a target had been set and a rationale had been provided to explain why the target had been set and that level. Where possible, any internal / external factors that had driven this decision to set the target at that level had also been provided. 

 

The review process also presented an opportunity to identify whether existing Performance Indicators were still appropriate and relevant for reflecting priorities for service delivery.  Having reviewed these, the Directorate had proposed no deletion or addition of new Indicators for 2015-16.  In total, of the 89 Indicators, for 81 of these it had been possible to set a target and direction of travel. 

 

The Chairman in referring to performance indicator SCC007a (The percentage of referrals during the year that were allocated to a social worker for initial assessment) queried the rationale behind the reduction in target which seemed to indicate that the service appeared to be under resourced.  In response, the Head of Children and Young People Services stated that the target set was challenging and realistic. Specifically, this indicator referred more to the front door part of the service and in particular to the initial assessment stage and did not relate to child protection issues.  If there were concerns around child protection, these would be allocated to a social worker immediately.  She stated that in the Vale the service had judged that the practice adopted of utilising experienced Social Care Officers was appropriate.  Furthermore, Members were asked to note something that had previously been raised by Mr. Evans from the Care Council for Wales, regarding how the front end of the service was staffed and the level of qualifications for social care staff.  She assured Members that robust monitoring and quality assurance processes were in place and that all decisions were signed off by an experienced social work practitioner. 

 

Further to this, a Committee Member queried as to what the service was doing in respect of ensuring staff were appropriately qualified and why other local authorities had not adopted the same process.  In response to this, Members were advised that there were a number of staff members who had progressed and qualified to become a social worker but there was always a place for experienced staff who wanted to continue working at the Social Care Officer level.  The Director of Social Services stated that it would be remiss of this service not to make best use of these staff.  He mentioned that, given the choice between a newly qualified social worker or a staff member with considerable experience and proven skills, most individuals might well choose the latter.  He also mentioned that the support and supervision available to these staff was reassuring and that it was important to ensure that the number of qualified social workers within the service were used to best effect.  Members requested that a further report on this issue be presented to the Committee in due course.

 

In querying performance indicator SCC037 (The average external qualification point score for 16 year old Looked After Children, in any local authority maintained learning setting) the Committee noted that previous year’s exceptional performance was primarily as a result of one individual and this indicator could be affected by the small size of the cohort. 

 

A Committee Member enquired as to who would carry out health assessments for Looked After Children.  In response, Members were advised that health professionals would undertake the assessments. They were also advised there had been a reduction in the number of LAC Nurses employed by the University Health Board.  The Committee questioned the level of influence that the Authority could have in relation of this indicator as most of the resources required would come from the University Health Board.  The Committee requested comparative data for Cardiff to be circulated to Members to highlight if this was an issue for the Local Health Board to address. 

 

At this point, the Director of Social Services advised the Committee that some of the data and performance indicators in relation to Looked After Children were about portraying a picture at the national level as opposed to monitoring local performance. 

 

A Committee Member sought clarification as to when would the new key performance indicators come out.  In response, the Director of Social Services stated that a technical group was looking at a national outcome framework and that this was still ongoing. 

 

In referring to the undertaking of Unified Assessments, a Committee Member queried if these could be carried out during a client visit.  In response, the Head of Adult Services stated that this was something that the service was currently doing and social workers were encouraged to do.  All social workers had been allocated a tablet computer but there was an issue of connectivity, which would be remedied by new IT systems.  He also stated that a number of social workers did not want IT to interfere during a personal visit but he stated that this was the way the service was heading.  He alluded to the use of on-line assessments for individuals and the potential costs around IT training and the integration of the new equipment.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the proposed targets for improvement for 2015/16 for all performance indicators reported by Social Services be agreed and to be referred to Cabinet.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To inform Cabinet and to ensure that the Council is consistently setting challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for its priorities in line with requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

           

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