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Minutes of a meeting held on 12th June, 2018.


Present:  Councillor K.F. McCaffer (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. R. Nugent-Finn (Vice-Chairman); Councillors: Ms. J. Aviet, Ms. B.E. Brooks, G.D.D. Carroll, Mrs. C.A. Cave, S.T. Edwards, O. Griffiths, K.P. Mahoney  and L.O. Rowlands



74        MINUTES –


RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th May, 2018 be approved as a correct record.





No declarations were received.





The Director of Social Service presented the report, the purpose of which was to allow Elected Members to contribute to the challenge process of the Director’s Annual Report for 2017-18 and to agree the future priorities for the service. 


The Director advised that this was an important report for the people of the Vale of Glamorgan, Members of the Council and Council partners, both statutory and in other sectors.  The Annual Report outlined the current context within which social services were operating and detailed proposed priorities for improvement.  A Challenge Version of the Director’s Report was attached at Appendix 1.


For this year, the format of the report had changed as part of the transition to a new format as required by Welsh Government through regulation.  The Director had utilised this year to allow the new Director’s Report to have close alignment with the Council’s Corporate and Service Plans.


As part of the challenge process, the Report was presented to provide Elected Members with an opportunity to contribute their views.  This was regarded as a key milestone in finalising the Report because of the crucial role that the Committee had in providing consistent oversight and monitoring of social services.


The final Report would be presented to Cabinet for approval of the priority objectives and then circulated widely.  It would then be made available via the Council’s website. 


The Director advised that for the new format, the Report had been split into six well-being standards. The six standards being: 

  • Well-being Standard 1 – working with people to define and co-produce personal well-being outcomes that people wished to achieve;
  • Well-being Standard 2 – working with people and partners to protect and promote people’s physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
  • Well-being Standard 3 – taking steps to protect and safeguard people and reduce common neglect or harm;
  • Well-being Standard 4 – encouraging and supporting people to learn, develop and participate in society;
  • Well-being Standard  5 – supporting people to safely develop and maintain healthy, domestic, family and personal relationships;
  • Well-being Standard 6 – working with and supporting people to achieve greater economic well-being, having a social life and living in suitable accommodation that meets their needs.

The Director, in summarising his Report, stated that during 2017/18, the performance of the Directorate was very positive.  This was against a very challenging financial climate.  This positive performance had been backed up by views provided by service users and the Report contained a great deal of customer feedback. Statistics on complaints and compliments were provided on page 19, which also included a summary of key lessons learned. 


Around Well-being Standard 1 and the production of personal well-being outcomes, the Director referred to the successful pilot delivery of an outcome focused case management and measurement system for long term care.  This was the subject of a Committee report presented on 15th May, 2018, entitled “Your Choice” – A New Approach to Commissioning Outcome-focused Care and Support at Home”.  In addition, the Directorate completed a citizen’s engagement panel for people with care and support needs, which was to ensure that the Directorate actively engaged with clients to develop ways that could shape and define services. 


The Director advised that for 2018/19 there were three key priorities.


1.         Expand and extend the use of Dewis Cymru for the provision of information, advice and assistance for preventative services;

2.         Fully implement outcome-based commissioning across all domiciliary care agencies;

3.         Develop a learning disability commissioning strategy.


With regard to Well-being Standard 2, and the need to promote people’s physical and mental health, the Committee was advised that during 2017/18 the Directorate was able to agree a joined up care package approval process with the University Health Board in order to further enhance the integrated discharge service.  In addition, the Director referred to close working with partners in order to develop an area plan on a regional basis which was in response to the Population Needs Assessment. 


The Director advised that 2018/19 priorities were to focus on: 

  • Strengthening communications with the mental health service in order to support effective transition for young people into adult mental health services;
  • Further developing and implementing the integrated Autism service to strengthen links with other services and to enhance the service user and carer experience.

For Well-being Standard 3, around protection and safeguarding, the Director advised that the Council had been able to take steps to further strengthen the responsibility for safeguarding by delivering by safeguarding training and also by raising awareness and understanding of safeguarding policy and practice.  In addition, during 2017/18, there had been focus on improving the consistency of responses in relation to nursing / residential and domiciliary care.  The Directorate also continued to focus on implementing the actions as outlined in the Operation Jasmine Action Plan. 


For 2018/19, the key priorities were to: 

  • Support the completion of the review of the all-Wales child and adult protection procedures with a focus on combining the safeguarding procedures for both adults and children nationally across Wales and the associated preparatory work for implementing revised safeguarding policies;
  • Continue to focus on the delivery of the Corporate Safeguarding Action Plan and to put in place appropriate mechanisms to monitor compliance of the Policy across the Council for all relevant staff, contractors and volunteers.

In terms of Well-being Standard 4 and encouraging people to learn, develop and participate in society, during 2017/18 a working group produced an options appraisal to evaluate the options available for developing a Cardiff and Vale independent professional advocacy service.  As a result of this, the intention was to commission an independent organisation to provide a single point of access or gateway for all advocacy services for adults across the region.  It was the key aim for this to progress and be implemented during 2018/19.


In relation to Well-being Standard 5 regarding people developing and maintaining personal relationships, the Director advised that through effective partnership working with the NHS, the Directorate had been able to further integrate health and social care services in relation to the Reablement Service.  Furthermore, the pilot Therapeutic Fostering Scheme intended to promote placement stability for Looked After Children had been completed and the pilot for Direct Family Support to promote the prospect of children remaining with their families had been extended. 


For 2018/19, there were two priorities.  The first was to continue to enhance the collaborative approach in relation to Flying Start and Families First by further aligning their activities.  The second priority was to establish a Reflect Service in line with Welsh Government priorities.  This would enable the development of a more joined up approach to working with parents who had experienced the removal of children into care to support them to better their life choices and decisions for any future children. 


With regard to Well-being Standard 6 and the need to support people achieving economic well-being, the Director referred to the significant progress that had been made towards the development of a Commissioning Strategy for Accommodation with Care.  This was in order to meet the increasing demand for people to remain as independent for as long as possible.  The Committee was advised that discussions were underway with the Council’s Housing Department to develop opportunities that were informed by the findings of the recent market position statement and also the Population Needs Assessment.  Going forward, the Council would be working on a regional basis to develop a Commissioning Strategy for Accommodation with Care.  The Director also advised that there continued to be an emphasis on increasing the number of direct payments to adults to give people greater control and independence over their choice of carer. 


The priorities for 2018/19 were to:


1.         Work with Council partners regionally to develop and Accommodation with Care Strategy to promote independent living;

2.         Implement a bespoke family information service data base and record management system.


The Director then referred to the section of the Report outlining how the Directorate would support its workforce and their professional roles.  The Director stated that following a staff survey, it was pleasing to note that t the responses from staff were more positive than the previous year.  The Director also advised that there had been a drop in the number of positive responses related to staff receiving help to understand their wider contribution to the Council’s wider Corporate Plan.  The priority during 2018/19 regarding the Directorate’s workforce was to address any vacancies that existed in relation to critical posts by continuing to focus on reducing reliance on agency staff and by exploring more targeted recruitment opportunities. 


A Committee Member, in referring to mental health support for children transiting to adulthood, stated that there was no mention as to the condition and suitability of the Amy Evans building that housed the Mental Health Team.  These views were echoed by the Committee as the condition of the building did not reflect well on the service.  In reply, the Director stated that a report on this would be presented at the Committee’s next meeting and confirmed that progress had been made with it being planned for the Mental Health Team to relocate to Barry Hospital.  


Following a query regarding the Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Strategy, the Director stated that there was a balance within the Report as it was not possible to include all strategy documents that the Directorate was involved with.  He added that in the Report the priority action in relation to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) was key, but as this was a major focus of the Committee, then it may be prudent to reconsider whether reference should be made to the Suicide Strategy. 


In reply to a question regarding how many complaints had been upheld, the Director stated that the main aspect of complaints was around resolution.  The term “upheld” was mainly used for cases referred to the Ombudsman and the Director confirmed that of the nine cases passed to the Ombudsman, only one was partially upheld.  A Member queried the process to commission services from care agencies and how the Council reacted to complaints made against agencies.  The Director advised that for services for adults there were various quality assurance mechanisms in place.  All agencies used had to be on the approved providers list and registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales, with each agency subject to regular checks and monitoring visits.  The Director added that a key mechanism for quality control was issues being picked up by social work staff.  Also, through the process of contract monitoring, if concerns increased then the Council would implement the escalating concerns procedure.  The Committee Member then asked whether the Council challenged the response given by a care agency.  The Head of Adult Services, in clarifying the process, advised that agencies would be regularly visited by contracting and social work staff who would examine and challenge responses given where there were specific issues raised or were not satisfied with the evidence provided.  The Directorate relied on information received so if the Directorate saw an increase in concerns or regular themes being reported then the Council would prioritise its visits to that provider as opposed to sticking to a planned schedule of contract monitoring visits. 


A Committee Member referred to page 43 of the Director’s Draft Annual Report and increasing enquiries from parents who had experienced difficulties in finding suitable child care to meet their needs.  In reply, the Committee was advised that this related to the 2016/17 child care sufficiency audit.  As a result of this, there were specific areas of the Vale of Glamorgan where families would receive additional support. 


The Committee noted that information around Council advice and support to parents relating to Inset Days and child care would be sought from the Director of Learning and Skills. 


Having thanked the Director, the Committee




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


(2)       T H A T the improvement priorities for Social Services as set out in the Director’s Annual Report for 2017-2018 be noted.


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


Reason for recommendations


(1-3)    To provide Elected Members with an opportunity to contribute to the challenge process for the Director’s Annual Report 2017-2018.





The Head of Resource Management and Innovation presented the report, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the work of the Vale Family Information Service (FIS).  For this item the Committee also welcomed the Team Manager, Performance and Information.


The Vale FIS was an information service for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-20 years in the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as for professionals working with families.  It provided free information on a wide range of childcare options and activities and support services for children, their families and their carers.


The FIS maintained a database of over 1,000 services.  The details of approximately 180 family support services were migrated to the Dewis Cymru website in 2016/17, a further 123 Children and Young People’s Activities were migrated in October 2017, followed by 380 childcare resources by May 2018.  Dewis Cymru had been implemented in Cardiff and the Vale as the mechanism to search for information on well-being services and support.  FIS had played a key part in ensuring that services supporting families had been made available on the Dewis website and FIS remained responsible for ensuring that this information was kept up to date.  The Information Officer for FIS had also taken on the role of Dewis Cymru Project Officer for the Vale Council which helped enable this change.


Families and professionals could contact the service directly and the information was also available online via a childcare search facility on the Dewis Cymru website.  Information was required to be updated six monthly for all resources on the Dewis Cymru website.


This year FIS received additional funding from Welsh Government’s Families First Grant, via the Children and Young People’s Partnership, to deliver outreach events targeting hard to reach groups. See Appendix A.


FIS had increased its use of social media to promote the service and to reach parents and professionals.  Facebook and Twitter were used regularly to highlight important campaigns and promote events and activities.  It was a very useful communication resource.  A Facebook post promoting the FIS Easter Under the Eastern Shelter event reached over 8,000 people.


The Outreach Officer post was vacant from September 2016 to July 2017, resulting in fewer outreach opportunities and therefore fewer enquiries.  The Council advertised the post on three occasions and were unfortunately unable to appoint.  The fourth recruitment exercise shortlisted a number of applicants and interviews took place in May, 2017.


Universal Credit was due to be implemented in the Vale of Glamorgan in October 2018.  Local Authorities that were live with the full service of Universal Credit had seen a rise in enquiries to FIS relating to financial support with childcare costs as the new system was introduced.  It was anticipated that the number of enquiries would rise in the Vale of Glamorgan also.


The Council’s performance for 2017/18 is shown below: 

  • 801 enquiries direct to the service (27% decrease from the previous year due to an increase in online enquiries and the reduction in outreach and marketing);
  • 4,424 online childcare enquiries (20% increase);
  • 41,350 page views to the FIS web pages (3% increase from last year) and 18,828 visits;
  • 4,852 page views to the “Children with additional needs” web pages (26% increase from previous year) and 1,255 sessions;
  • 396 requests for childcare information (14% decrease which may be related to the increase in online childcare enquiries);
  • 102 direct enquiries for additional needs support and the Index;
  • 669 people contacting FIS for health, well-being and leisure information;
  • 67 direct enquiries for help with childcare costs and financial help;
  • 101 people referred to the Dewis website, 38 people referred to the Families First Advice Line (FFAL), 35 people referred to Flying Start;
  • Summary of enquiries and web hits over the last three years.







Total   direct enquiries





Total   online childcare searches    





Total   Contacts





Total   web page views






*Estimated as 2 months data was not supplied

**Estimated as 4 months data was not supplied


In terms of outcomes, the Council contacted every enquirer to try and gain feedback from them. 88% would recommend the Council’s service and 87% said the information received was Good or Very Good.  For enquiries specifically for children with additional needs, 80% of families said that finding out about services available to them made a positive difference to their family.  See Appendix B for some comments.


The type of enquiries the Council received varied greatly and included: requests for childcare information and advice, holiday activities, becoming a child-minder, database updates, help with childcare costs, leisure activities, family support, nursery admission and education.  Some examples of the enquiries received were set out in Appendix B to the report.


It was evident that more people were using the service online, rather than contacting FIS directly.  FIS also gained many enquiries from providing outreach, which accounted for 26% of all enquiries.


There had been many achievements in the past year. 

  • 136 new children registered on the Index of Children with Disabilities or Additional Needs;
  • An Online Registration form for The Index developed and available;
  • 614 new enquirers accessed information from FIS (77% of all enquiries);
  • Joint working and promotion carried out with the Families First Advice Line (FFAL) to GPs, health visitors, frontline Local Authority staff and in Llandough Children's Centre;
  • FIS School Certificate of Achievement had now been developed for partners.  The FIS Partner Certificate of Achievement had been achieved by six partners;
  • The service produced another successful Summer Holiday Activity Programme, available online, which resulted in over 9,117 web hits, as well as developing an Easter Holiday Activity Programme, available online, which resulted in over 2,332 web hits;
  • Worked with the Local Data Unit and other Family Information Services across Wales to design, develop and implement a National FIS Wales database via Dewis Cymru;
  • Vale FIS now had 378 Childcare resources on Dewis Cymru, along with 123 Children and Young People’s Activities and 180 Family Support Services;
  • A Regional Index for Cardiff and the Vale had been developed with the Vale Index model had been replicated in Cardiff.  The Index Officer post had been regionalised and was employed by the Vale to cover both Authorities; 
  • 10 events supported and delivered through Families First “Parenting Give it time”.  Funding including FIS Christmas Party, Inclusive Family Fun Day at Ysgol Y Deri and Easter under the Eastern Shelter;
  • Engagement with Rainbow Women’s Group, establishing an important link with the BME community;
  • Following last year’s data migration of Family Support services on Dewis Cymru, Vale FIS had now completed the transfer of the Children and Young People's Activities Directory to the Dewis Cymru website and encouraged providers to update their information.  Cardiff and Vale FIS Teams had led the way to support other FISs in Wales to migrate their information;
  • Social media was used as a key communication tool and the FIS Facebook page now had 1,204 1,637 people following the page (433 new followers in the last year).  Twitter now had 742 followers (310 new followers in the last year);
  • 100 Bigstock illustrations had been purchased in order to rebrand promotional materials as well as the FIS website, to improve promotion across the Vale. These were friendly cartoon illustrations, which would enable the Council to replace its stock of photographs which were costly and became out of date quickly;
  • A range of outreach equipment and resources were purchased via Welsh Government funding and would be used to engage with families and professionals across the Vale.

Key Actions for the next year: 

  • Work with partners to deliver Free Family Fun Days to build on the success of the events delivered through Families First funding;
  • Work with health visitors and parent groups to ensure that new parents were aware of FIS, by attending baby clinics and parent and toddler groups;
  • Work with schools to increase registrations to The Index and School Certificate engagement;
  • Continuing to work with Job Centre Plus and PACE project to ensure that lone parents were aware of available childcare options;
  • Continue engagement with Rainbow Women’s Group via Group sessions and outreach events;
  • Continue to roll out the FIS School Certificate of Achievement and FIS Partner Certificate of Achievement;
  • Work with Cardiff FIS to produce joint Index newsletters quarterly, improving access to information on services for children with disabilities or additional needs across Cardiff and the Vale and achieving efficiencies for the Vale;
  • Attend key events to promote FIS / The Index and Dewis Cymru;
  • Work with the Families First Advice Line to ensure parents and carers were accessing information and advice and all support services were available on Dewis Cymru;
  • Work with Carers Support Officer and other partners to raise awareness of Carers Assessment eligibility and signpost families to information and support;
  • Continue to work with Children and Young People’s Services to ensure a full Information, Advice and Assistance service was available and that citizens were appropriately accessing and signposted to sources of help and support.

A Committee Member queried the waiting list for parent carer assessments.  In reply, the Team Manager, Performance and Information advised that a person’s position on the waiting list was based on a criteria matrix that related to the needs of the individual.  This meant that a person could move up or down the waiting list.  The Team Manager added that as advice was more readily available, there was a lot of information that could be provided more quickly which meant that formal assessments were no longer as important.  The Team Manager also stated that information regarding the waiting list would be e-mailed to Members. 


The Team Manager in commenting on the change to more electronic forms of enquiries, stated that this had been based on Welsh Government standards, all of which the Vale had exceeded.  She added that the switch to electronic and on-line communication seemed to happen naturally with the service changing as trends changed.  She added that social media was a major factor with more parents waiting for information to be provided on-line.  She then referred to DEWIS Cymru assisting in moving the service forward, which was purpose built, regularly updated and included the profile of a range of services available.  The Team Manager also referred to the range of outreach events held annually, which was where most engagement with children/families took place.  In addition, a lot of work was carried out with schools and there was increased focus on baby clinics.  The Team Manager also outlined that a three pronged presentation was provided to schools and health staff to help them understand what information was available.  She added that a recent quick survey had shown that most people were pleased with the accessibility of information.


A Committee Member queried how the activities at engagement events were chosen.  The Team Manager stated that the service had learnt from colleagues in other authorities and that the activities offered varied from the type of events being held.  The Team Manager added that schools were a key partner when it came to engagement.  Schools were able to apply for a certificate if they met a certain criteria.  This had increased the number of schools that actively engaged with the service.


In being asked to comment on the perceived lack of activities for young people, Team Manager stated that when it came to gaps in youth provision, the service would only be aware of the services currently available, although the service would make enquiries.


Further to this and in relation to youth provision, a Committee Member queried the assessment process around commissioning services.  The Director advised that the Council had a responsibility to undertake an assessment of those requiring care and support.  The type of care offered would vary, with a move away from a system based on the selection of options to a more person centric choice and control approach.  He added that the Council was obliged to meet need and not provide a specific service.  Legislation indicated that a local authority was obliged to meet need only where it was the only organisation that could meet that need.  The Director outlined that the Social Services and Wellbeing Act had taken local authorities away from a menu based system, to focus more on what mattered to the individual.


It was agreed that the list of the main areas of focus for the Family Information Service over the next 12 months, would be circulated to Members.


Subsequently, the Committee




(1)       T H A T the work of the Family Information Service be noted.


(2)       T H A T the impact of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 upon the Family Information Service be noted.


(3)       T H A T the Committee receives an annual update on the Family Information Service.


Reason for recommendations


(1-3)    To ensure effective oversight of social care services.