Agenda Item No. 4












On 16th September 2014 the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) referred the Improvement Plan Part 2 to this Scrutiny Committee for consideration, citing the need to evaluate the direction of travel of certain Performance Indicators when compared to the Welsh average.


In considering the reference and report, the Chairman drew the Committee’s attention to page 70 of the Improvement Plan and requested that officers offer an explanation of issues affecting performance against certain Indicators.


In respect of Performance Indicator SCA/001(the rate of delayed transfers of care for social care reasons per 1,000 population aged 75 or over), the Head of Adult Services advised Members that this Scrutiny Committee would be well aware of the issue in respect of delayed transfers of care.  Last year’s performance was disappointing and this could be mainly attributed to winter pressures affecting service demand and also problems caused by staff vacancies.  He asked Members to note the latest performance information which showed a much improved position. 


A Committee Member queried as to what other Local Authorities were doing in instances where their rate of delayed transfer was lower than that in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Committee was advised that it was of interest to note that Cardiff Council was also within the same quartile as the Vale.  Both the Vale and Cardiff Councils were covered by the Cardiff and Vale Local Health Board and this indicated that it may be a regional issue.  It would be more of a concern if the Vale was not on a par with its neighbouring authority. 


Further to this, a Member enquired as to what extent was this a local authority issue and whether it was more of a matter for the Local Health Board i.e. was the Vale being judged on a partnership working arrangement and how could this be properly dealt with?  In response the Head of Adult Services stated, that within the calculation of the delayed transfers of care Performance Indicator, there were seven different categories for social care reasons causing the delay in discharge out of hospital.  Many cases of delayed transfer of care were directly influenced by health but in general terms this Performance Indicator related directly to Social Services.  The Director of Social Services advised there was an element of confusion in respect of data about whether people were consistently fit for discharge when referred by NHS staff to Social Services and that sometimes patients would require further medical treatment which thus affected the ability of social care practitioners to assist in discharging individuals. 


In discussing the performance of Indicator SCA/002a (the rate of older people (aged 65 or over) supported in the community per 1,000 population aged 65 or over at 31st March), Members were advised that this Indicator did not offer great value in terms of improved understanding about performance or provide evidence of good service delivery. It could be argued that a low figure showed a better position as it indicated that more people were living independently without help from Social Services. 


Moving on to Performance Indicator SCA/007 (the percentage of clients with a care plan at 31st March whose care plans should have been reviewed that were reviewed during the year), Members noted that this was a legitimate area where the Vale of Glamorgan could have performed better.  A rise in service demand had adversely affected the ability of social workers to review in a timely way care packages in place.


In assessing Performance Indicators relating directly to Children’s Services, Members were advised that for Performance Indicator SCC/011a (the percentage of initial assessments that were completed during the year where there is evidence that the child has been seen by the Social Worker), that a local Performance Indicator which included social care officers as well as social workers showed that the current service performance was around 83% and that the picture for Quarters 1 and 2 were much healthier.  The issue related to the wording of the Performance Indicator that made reference to an assessment by a qualified worker.  In many cases, a non-qualified member of staff had been able to see the Child but that this could not be counted when calculating the National Performance Indicator.


In commenting on Indicator SCC/011b (the percentage of initial assessments that were completed during the year where there is evidence that the child has been seen alone by the Social Worker), the Head of Children and Young People Services advised the Committee that she had looked at the reasons why children had not been seen and she was reassured that the reasons were legitimate. She advised that 39 children were not seen alone as they were too young, a further nine children refused and, in some cases, the child was unborn.  She assured the Committee that children were seen when it was appropriate to do so and that all workers were supervised by appropriately qualified team managers. 


The Committee was advised that specific to Indicator SCC/033e (the percentage of young people formerly looked after with whom the authority is in contact, who are known to be in suitable, non-emergency accommodation at the age of 19), this represented a very small cohort and that performance had been affected by one young person who was in prison and one in emergency accommodation.


Referring to Performance Indicator SCC/033f (the percentage of young people formerly looked after with whom the Authority is in contact, who are known to be engaged in education, training or employment at the age of 19), the Head of Children and Young People Services advised Members that this was generally a very small cohort of individuals and that the performance for Quarter 1 had improved to 77.7%.  When calculating this Performance Indicator, the makeup of the cohort needed to be fully appreciated; in many cases, this included teenagers who were pregnant or suffered from an illness and therefore could not engage or were not willing to engage in education, training or employment. 


The Head of Children and Young People Services advised the Committee that for the performance against Indicator SCC/037 (the average external qualifications point score for 16 year old looked after children), this again was very much dependent on the cohort of children.


In referring to Objective 3 relating to the increase in the number of Council foster carers, officers were asked to comment upon the level of stability currently being experienced by children within care.  In response, the Head of Children and Young People Services advised that the service had been able to improve levels of placement stability through the strategy to reduce the number of placements outside Wales and to increase the number of foster carer opportunities within the Vale of Glamorgan.  This was currently working very well. 


Responding to a query regarding the Council’s objective to increase the number of in-house foster carers, the Head of Children and Young People Service informed the Committee that the service had met the target for recruiting new carers last year and efforts were focussing on recruiting carers who could offer respite placement, placements for siblings and those with complex needs.  She advised that the situation was being closely monitored and that although there had been a dip in activity during the summer period due to staff capacity, the service remained on track for meeting this year’s target.


A Committee Member commented that so far the focus of the Committee had been on considering the negative performance of the service but that the Committee should be mindful that in 10 areas the Vale of Glamorgan was within the top quartile and that the Committee should note the good performance.  It was currently understood that the Welsh Government was reviewing a number of the key Performance Indicators and the Committee Member asked if officers could provide any updates.  The Director of Social Services advised, that in respect of certain Performance Indicators that may have become redundant, officers were in dialogue with representatives at the Welsh Government and that the appropriate updates would be provided in due course. 


Having considered the reference, it was subsequently


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the issues and challenges affecting the performance in respect of Children’s and Adult Services be noted. 


Reason for recommendation


In order that the Scrutiny Committee closely assess the performance of key strategic Performance Indicators."