SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH)
Minutes of a meeting held on 2nd November, 2015.
Present: Councillor R.L. Traherne (Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, R.J. Bertin, J.W. Thomas, S.T. Wiliam and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.
Also present: Councillors S.C. Egan and Mrs. V.M. Hartrey.
550 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, E. Hacker, H.C. Hamilton and Dr. I.J. Johnson.
551 MINUTES –
RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 5th October, 2015 be approved as a correct record.
552 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
553 UPDATE ON THE NEW VALE, VALLEYS AND CARDIFF REGIONAL ADOPTION COLLABORATIVE (DSS) –
The purpose of the report was to provide an update on progress following implementation of the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative and for this item, the Head of Children and Young People Services was joined by the Regional Adoption Manager.
The report outlined that on 28th November 2014, Cabinet had approved the business case, service delivery model and implementation plan for creating the Regional Adoption Collaborative. The recommendations from the implementation plan were resolved also by the Cabinets in Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil during December 2014. It was agreed that the Vale of Glamorgan Council would act as host Authority for the Collaborative.
The Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Regional Adoption Collaborative became operational on 1st June, 2015 when adoption staff transferred to the employment under TUPE transfer arrangements to the central operational base at Ty Pennant in Pontypridd.
In line with the requirements outlined in the Joint Adoption Arrangements (Wales) Directions 2015, a Steering Group was formed to oversee implementation of the Collaborative which was established as the Management Board in July 2015.
The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place on 16th September 2015 and it comprised of a lead Member from each of the partner Local Authorities, with attendance by the four Heads of Service and the Regional Adoption Manager. The Joint Committee would agree the draft budget and the Annual Collaborative Plan by 31st December of each year. There was also a requirement under the Agreement for an Annual Review of the Collaborative to be undertaken within three months of the end of the financial year. This Review and an Annual Report prepared by the Regional Adoption Manager would be submitted to the Joint Committee and subsequently to the Scrutiny Committees in each of the four Local Authorities.
The report further highlighted that to encourage additional transparency and an early exchange of information, the Management Board had agreed to share with the relevant Scrutiny Committees an initial progress report produced by the Regional Adoption Manager and approved by the Board and the Joint Committee. This progress report was attached at Appendix 1.
The Regional Adoption Manager’s progress report summarised the challenges and achievements of the Collaborative to date and the focus of work going forward. The report detailed the overall performance of the Collaborative alongside relevant targets. It also included information on the following:
- Staffing and resources
- Service delivery
- Performance management
- Budget and financial considerations.
The Regional Adoption Manager in summarising her progress report advised that a key issue facing the Collaborative was around a shortfall in staff. This had posed challenges but this had been tackled through the considerable commitment that had been demonstrated by all staff and through the broad range of still mix available within the workforce.
The Committee was also advised that demand for adoption services remained high. The recruitment of prospective adopters and family finding for children requiring adoption had been prioritised according to need but there remained a waiting list for access to birth records. The Collaborative had also inherited a backlog from its partner authorities, particularly in the area of adoption support. To relieve these pressures, processes and procedures had been streamlined, the work around which was still ongoing.
The Regional Adoption Manager explained that there was a strong emphasis on performance and since April 2014, the reporting of the Collaborative’ s performance had been undertaken on a quarterly basis against the performance management framework developed by the Welsh Government. It was highlighted that the Collaborative achieved consistent performance in certain key areas, these being in particular the recruitment of prospective adopters and the placement of children for adoption, recruiting and placing the highest number in Wales in 2014-15 with 74 adopters being approved in this period and 112 children placed for adoption.
Significant data in relation to children indicated that during the first quarter of 2015/16, 20 were matched with adoptive parents, and 21 were placed for adoption. The indicators in relation to the timeliness of the process for children from decision-making to placement demonstrated that the region had performed well. Of concern however, were the number of children (13) who had waited over six months for a placement and, although this number had reduced, the need to place children more quickly was a key action for the Collaborative.
In respect of prospective adopters, the progress report highlighted that 26 initial enquiries were received in this period and 12 adopters were approved. Regional performance in terms of the timeliness of the process was positive with overall performance being reported just below the national target. One area of improvement noted was in relation to the response to enquiries within five days, where the region reported a 96% return. It was hoped that, as regional systems were now in place to co-ordinate a timely response, this figure would increase for the next reporting period.
The report described that the staffing position had meant that the full implementation of the agreed Service Delivery Model that operated around specialist functional teams had been delayed. Managers who had been appointed to lead these teams were working to the specialist areas but were also sharing a range of tasks, such as providing agency advice to the local authority decision maker and Adoption Panels.
In querying when the Collaborative would be able to move to the specialist model, the Regional Adoption Manager advised that this was planned for by the end of the year but it was difficult to know exactly. She explained that it was most likely the Collaborative would operate an 80/20% model which would allow flexibility where new staff needed time to learn and build up the necessary level of expertise and to accommodate changing levels of service demand in each functional area. The Committee also heard that Welsh Government had not prescribed a particular model of how a regional adoption collaborative should look like and each of the regional collaboratives operated under different structures.
When asked to elaborate on the staff shortfall, the Regional Adoption Manager advised Members that at present there were one and a half staff vacancies, although one new member of staff would soon join the team over the next few weeks. In addition to this, four staff members were on maternity leave which was having an impact. She went on to state that the Collaborative was ‘keeping its head above water’ although it had found it difficult to recruit to the temporary positions in some cases. She further advised that the Collaborative had inherited a backlog. Adoption support was a growing area which had meant that there was a lot more work. This had led to an increase in the waiting list.
In querying the size of the backlog, the Committee noted that this was mainly associated with the tracing of birth records of which 50 had been inherited. Further to this, the Head of Children and Young People Services added that the Collaborative had appropriately prioritised assessment and family finding work and she assured Members that resources had been suitably allocated.
The Chairman enquired as to the level of demand for counselling services for birth parents. In reply to this, the Regional Adoption Manager advised that offering counselling was a statutory function and that the support available previously varied among the four regional local authorities. She stated that the Collaborative had altered its systems to ensure that counselling was offered but she also advised that take up was an issue. This was because, in the vast majority of cases, the child had been removed and so engagement was a particular problem.
A Committee Member questioned what was the level of savings achieved. The Regional Adoption Manager commented that this was difficult to answer at this stage. It was hoped that savings would be achieved from greater efficiency and through avoiding duplication. Savings would also be achieved through a reduction in external out of region placements. Further to these points, the Director of Social Services stated that one of the ideas behind regional working was to reduce the number of managers. He also advised that it would take time to achieve savings.
In closing the item, the Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, thanked the Regional Adoption Manager for the update and stated that the Committee looked forward to a further report, either during the spring or summer of next year.
Having considered the report, the Committee
(1) T H A T the contents of the report and the work achieved to date be noted.
(2) T H A T a further report be received by the Committee in line with the requirements of the Partnership Agreement.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) To enable the Committee to exercise scrutiny of this key statutory function.
554 AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DISORDER: COMMUNITY MONITORING AND SUPPORT PROJECT (DSS) –
Members were provided with an update report on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Community Monitoring and Support Project.
The Autism Project Lead Officer presented the report which began by advising Members that in 2009, an Adult Task and Finish Group, established by the Welsh Government, issued a report describing how service provision for adults with ASD was very inconsistent across Wales. As a consequence, Local Authorities were given the opportunity to bid for grant funding. In partnership with Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan Council applied for funding to establish a Community Monitoring and Support Project across part of the South East Wales Region. This was agreed by Welsh Government in April 2011, initially for three years but then was subsequently extended until September 2015.
The funding previously provided as a grant had now been included in the Revenue Support Grant. Sufficient funding had been identified from the ring-fenced amounts for Cardiff and the Vale to continue to provide the service. Cost per annum would be £24,000.
The Welsh Government funding was specifically allocated for the creation of a service for adults with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome who were at risk of social isolation or vulnerable to mental ill health and who were not able to access or not eligible to access statutory services. This had enabled the Council to employ three part time Community Project Workers with responsibility for establishing and delivering the service across the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil Local Authority areas. Since then, both Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil had not identified any financial contribution and so the service in these areas had ceased. The scope of the service had therefore decreased following the change in funding and also due to the retirement of one member of staff.
The purpose of the Adult Autism Advice service was to offer short-term, targeted intervention which promoted the independence and autonomy of adults with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome by:
- Providing them with a clear point of contact for information and advice
- Ensuring that those who were eligible for statutory support were redirected to existing services
- Signposting those who did not meet the eligibility criteria for statutory social services to appropriate services located within their communities
- Reducing the risk of crisis and helping to prevent enduring mental health problems by encouraging socialisation and directing individuals to social groups, local events and activities
- Profiling any unmet need and highlighting any gaps in provision which could then be relayed to local steering groups and to the Welsh Government for consideration.
The report outlined that access to the service was via telephone, online engagements, face to face meetings or by referral from partner agencies. To date, the service had been contacted by over 400 different people. Some of these were simple requests for information while others had resulted in multiple contacts over extended periods, which was dependent upon the person’s needs. 23 clients had more than 10 separate records for different issues. Furthermore, a data gathering exercise had been carried out in the last quarter of 2014. This provided a breakdown of the types of contact and differentiated between contacts in group settings which were not normally recorded.
The key performance indicator for the service was that individuals felt less isolated and received support that helped them live independent lives. A number of case examples were outlined in Appendix A to the report. Some clients had advised that they found comfort in knowing that the service was there should a need arise and some individuals had used the service to ascertain future steps and to work through problems they were experiencing. The report highlighted that enquiries could typically result in effective signposting to existing services in the community.
The report described that the service was effective in preventing or delaying the need for more extensive care and support. The service acted to try to minimise the effect on disabled people of their disability, which was one of the key requirements of the Social Services and Well-being Act. For example, a client on the path to homelessness would be supported by the service and directed to advocacy services which would result in a positive outcome for the client and serve to enable them to avoid reaching crisis point. As a consequence, the service would circumvent any urgent need for other Council services such as housing or mental health services.
In addition, the service worked continually to enable clients to live their lives as independently as possible, which was another key aspect of the Act. Rather than creating a dependence on support staff, the Adult Autism Advice Service worked wherever possible with individuals to encourage their independence and autonomy. Case work was based on short term intervention and the service had been successful in reaching out to clients through new media. The service updated information on Facebook where over 800 people had expressed an interest in the page and consulted the updates that were posted (total “likes” currently were 815). This was an increase of over 500 in the past year. The service had also had a presence on the Council’s website for which the Vale of Glamorgan Adult Autism Advice Website received 416 hits between April 2013 and March 2014.
The Autism Project Lead Officer explained that, as the project workers did not have any budgets to control, they needed to be extremely inventive in respect of finding solutions. His report further advised that the service had created innovative opportunities for social contact. On a monthly basis, it would run daytime forums in both Cardiff and Barry. These provided a medium for adults to influence the development of the project and to act as a conduit for information to and from the local ASD Steering Group. A Couple Support Group had been established, where one or both partners were on the spectrum, to provide an opportunity for them to share difficulties and experiences and to allow for some group therapy. In addition, the service delivered social skills training to adults on the spectrum through the Socialeyes Programme.
Members were advised that the team frequently worked with individuals seeking employment, which helped to tackle social isolation. Having highlighted a gap in provision for employment support, the project was able to access Welsh Government funding to run a specialist employment project from 2013-14. The service had been able to produce specialist materials and to deliver job skills workshops. As a result, excellent links had deemed to have been forged with local Job Centre Plus staff and workshops had been delivered jointly. Over the past year, a course for eight people was run in Barry Job Centre. Of the eight people who attended, three were now in employment, two had progressed to achieving interviews and were volunteering, one was a volunteer supporting older people to access I.T. and two had disengaged.
The team had also delivered basic autism awareness to Job Centre staff and had established more collaborative working practices so that the service was better able to support adults with issues peripheral to the job search process. The materials had been developed further into an online resource of support materials. This included awareness raising materials for those supporting adults, principally aimed at Careers Wales and Job Centre Plus staff. 100% of Careers Wales staff had already passed the courses and over 200 Job Centre Plus staff.
A number of areas of good practice developed by the scheme locally had been adopted by other areas in Wales. For example, the Orange Wallet scheme was now providing improved access to public transport across Wales. In addition, an expression of interest had been submitted to Welsh Government to be considered for running an integrated Autism Service pilot project. This would be in addition to the current service. The proposed service would utilise a coaching / mentoring approach to up-skill individuals with ASD, parents and professionals in order to facilitate access to existing statutory and community provision, thereby decreasing the likelihood of social isolation and subsequent emotional / mental health issues. All interventions would be time limited and aimed at integrating people into wider community services. It was anticipated that each Health Board area would receive indicative funding of £200,000 for three years, to cover two health staff and three support workers.
With reference to the level of staff resources, the Chairman asked whether the project was able to cope. In reply to this, the Autism Project Lead Officer advised that the project was losing one of its three staff members through retirement. The project would need to be rejigged by offering less direct support groups, but he felt that the project would be able to manage.
In terms of the decision by the Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Councils to disengage with the project, Members noted that individuals from these areas would still be able to receive support from the project. Members of the Committee welcomed the project’s stance around this. Furthermore, Members also noted that the Welsh Government had not prescribed how individual local authorities should provide an autism service, but local authorities would have to update the Minister on what work was being progressed in their areas. The Committee also queried the support networks that were available to individuals in these two areas.
In noting that the allocation of the grant money was not hypothecated by Welsh Government when it was transferred into the Revenue Support Grant, the Committee was advised that the need to provide support and assistance to this group of individuals would be an intrinsic part of the new Social Services and Wellbeing Act.
Members were made aware of how beneficial the couple’s support group had been. This was because some of the most important support that the project could provide was around helping to ensure that an individual’s personal relationships remained strong, which if undermined, would usually create a greater need for support services.
Having thanked the Lead Officer for his report, the Committee
(1) T H A T the work being undertaken by the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Community Monitoring and Support Project be noted.
(2) T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive an annual update on the work of the project.
Reasons for recommendations
(1&2) To keep Members apprised of the work of the ASD Community Monitoring and Support Project and its achievements to date.
555 REPORT ON THE NATIONAL SOCIAL SERVICES CONFERENCE, JUNE 2015 (DSS) –
The Director of Social Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to update the Scrutiny Committee on the National Social Services Conference for 2015.
The report described how the Conference was the largest and most influential meeting of social care leaders and decision makers within Wales. It was widely recognised as being the most important event of its kind for Councillors, Directors, senior officers, policy makers, service managers and service providers with responsibilities for children’s services and adult social care in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors. Over 250 delegates attended this year.
This was the eighth annual conference organised by the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), which provided professional leadership for social services across Wales. It involved (as partners) the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, the Care Council for Wales, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales and the NHS Confederation.
The conference theme was “Delivery Together: It’s About All of Us”. This built on the learning from last year’s conference, where members concentrated on how to put people at the centre of care and how to maximise the potential by building on individual and community capacity. For this conference there was greater emphasis on planning and delivering social care services across agencies and shifting the power in relationships to encourage more equality and shared responsibility.
The Conference included a full and varied programme. Key note speeches were made by the following:
- Sue Evans, President, ADSS Cymru
- Dr. Andrew Goodall, Director General of Health and Social Services and Chief Executive NHS Wales
- Albert Heaney, Welsh Government’s Director of Social Services and Integration
- Sally Holland, newly appointed Children’s Commissioner for Wales
- Karyn McCluskey, Co-Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit
- Kriss Akabusi, Olympic Gold medal Winner and formerly Looked After Child
- Professor Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services, was scheduled to attend but his travel plans had been disrupted.
The Conference brochure was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and the schedule of the Conference included a plenary session on strategic partnerships and a cross-party panel conducted as a question time session. There was a wide range of workshops which gave participants an opportunity to hear about practical tools, skills and ideas to take back and apply within their organisations. In addition, there were exhibitions that showcased work being done across Wales.
The report highlighted that there was considerable consensus about how social services should be seeking to tackle the challenges posed by policies and legislation adopted in Wales to deal with issues such as increasing demand, public services, resource constraints and changing public expectations. Much emphasis was placed on the aspirational aspects of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
It was evident that participants at the Conference were clearly committed to ensuring that people’s choices and rights were central to decision making as their circumstances changed, focusing on their strengths and working with them creatively to maintain their independence. However, there was significant concern that social services should recognise too the risks involved to vulnerable people and to the service providers if the increased demand in health and social care services was not managed well enough. This highlighted a need for change, not only in the way public services as a whole promoted wellbeing, but also in regard to the social compact. There also appeared to be an emerging policy imperative that individuals, families and communities would be expected (where ever possible) to contribute more of their own resources and to reduce their expectations of public services. This was characterised as “seeking recovery and reablement, rather than rescue or cure”.
The report advised that within the NHS, this effort to rebalance rights and responsibilities had been badged as “Prudent Health Care”. The Chief Officer, Social Care and Housing, Torfaen County Borough Council and the Director of Social Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council, had published an article on the Making Prudent Healthcare Happen website and this explored how some of the concepts might apply in social care. Members were also advised that the new Act and the accompanying regulations appeared to be rather ambivalent about how social services could reconcile potential increased eligibility for care and support and a focus on more personalised, responsive forms of help with an emphasis on promoting preventative services, information, advice and assistance. This would be one of the key debates as social services moved towards implementing new statutory responsibilities.
Members of the Committee were shown two short videos. The first provided a summary of the key note speakers and plenary sessions while the second contained short films about the experience and expectations of service users.
The Chairman, in referring to Workshop 4, which related to evidence and lessons learnt in England around alternative delivery models across Adult Health and Social Care, queried as to whether officers had any thoughts around this. In response, the Head of Adult Services commented that alternative service delivery was being progressed as part of the Reshaping Services Project and he indicated that the service would continually look at models used across the whole of the U.K. and would draw on what worked and what didn’t work. He added that the situation in Wales was different to England and he alluded to the Welsh cap on the charge for domiciliary services and the increasing use of personal budgets in England. The Director of Social Services also followed up by stating that the Directorate had always set out to be innovative and had adopted many initiatives pioneered, not only in England but also in Scotland and elsewhere.
(1) T H A T the key messages to emerge from the Conference be noted.
(2) T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives an annual report concerning the themes and topics discussed within the Conference.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) To ensure that Members are kept informed about policy and service developments across Wales.
556 THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN HEALTH, SOCIAL CARE AND WELLBEING PARTNERSHIP (DSS) –
The Director of Social Services presented the report, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the work of the Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Partnership.
As a background summary, the report began by highlighting that Health, Social Care and Wellbeing for the Vale of Glamorgan was a key component of the Council’s Community Strategy. This work was driven by two main partnership bodies, i.e. the Integrated Health and Social Care Partnership and the Public Health and Wellbeing Board.
The Integrated Health and Social Care (IHSC) Partnership oversaw the collaborative work undertaken between the key stakeholders (the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services and Cardiff Third Sector Council) in developing and supporting joint Social Care and Health Services.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Board had responsibility for steering collaborative work that addressed key health determinants for the population such as the use of tobacco, food and physical activity, alcohol consumption and the uptake of immunisations. It previously operated within the Vale of Glamorgan only but, following development of a joint Local Service Board with Cardiff Council, it was agreed that this partnership stream would be aligned with similar work undertaken in Cardiff.
Integrated Health and Social Care Programme
The report stated that the Integrated Health and Social Care Partnership had benefitted from the revised governance structure which was set in place last year with the aim of increasing the scale and pace of integration across health and social care services. There had been further changes to its Terms of Reference brought about by new requirements from Welsh Government that regional arrangements for collaboration should reflect the membership of a national partnership board that had been established. Following completion of Part 9 of the Code of Practice, which set out the statutory collaborative requirements under the Social Services and Wellbeing Act, the Terms of Reference would need to be revised further.
The Integrated Health and Social Care Governance (Partnership) Board met quarterly; the leadership team, which comprised the Chief Executives of the relevant organisations, met every other month and the Strategic Implementation Group for senior officers met monthly.
In summarising some of the key areas of progress, the Director of Social Services advised Members of the following:
- The completion of the Strategic Review which had looked at the level of resources and activity across Community Health and Local Authority services for older people. This led to the Governance Board agreeing that the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff Council and the University Health Board would fast track a far reaching integration programme which would provide the public with joined up services across the region. A public statement made by key members of the Board in relation to this was attached at Appendix 1. The Director also advised that an Assistant Director would soon be appointed to take forward a work programme and to focus on joint commissioning of services.
- The reduction in Delayed Transfers of Care across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan communities and the formulation of an action plan.
- The implementation of the Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) which would enable Social Services and a range of community health services to more effectively plan, co-ordinate and deliver services and support for individuals, families and communities. Members heard that this was a complex undertaking but so far it was progressing well.
Further to these, the report referred to the announcement by the Minister for Health and Social Services regarding the recurrent funding of the Intermediate Care Fund in order to continue projects which had shown themselves to be of a positive advantage to the community. This was followed by an agreement across the Cardiff and Vale Health Board Partnership footprint that funding would be made available to progress proposals that would see the delivery of a single point of access, a number of preventative intervention projects and an accommodation solutions / resettlement project.
With regard to the reduction in the Regional Collaborative Fund, the report outlined that this would now be realigned around two projects, these being the enhanced services for people with learning disabilities and an enhanced reablement service. The Head of Adult of Services also advised about an important development for primary care services, for which Welsh Government had allocated several million across Cardiff and the Vale. Of this money, approximately £800,000 would be made available for expansion of the Vale Community Resource Service. This expansion included additional reablement home care staff employed by the council. Furthermore, work was also progressing on the development of phlebotomy services which would hopefully improve District Nursing capacity.
In addition, the report highlighted the engagement with the Cardiff and Vale UHB in the production of the second iteration of the Regional Implementation Plan which was linked to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
Public Health and Wellbeing Programme
The report indicated that following recent proposals to develop the joint Local Service Board between the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, work had started to identify a model to improve public health and wellbeing across both areas which allowed for increased collaboration and joint working whilst respecting the specific needs of individual communities and the roles and responsibilities of statutory organisations.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Board had now been replaced with a joint structure including both the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Local Authorities. The new structure incorporated the Health and Wellbeing Performance Management Group and the Health and Wellbeing Development Task Force.
Membership of the Health and Wellbeing Performance Management Group included senior managers from across partner organisations, meeting every four months with the aim of:
- ensuring delivery of existing action plans and that business “as usual” continued at a local level on tobacco, food and physical activity
- ensuring links with ongoing work by the Area Planning Board, Healthy Schools and the Cardiff and Vale Immunisation Steering Group
- scrutiny of highlight reports on the above
- reporting to the Cardiff and Vale Joint Local Service Board
- inform the work of the task force.
With regard to the Health and Wellbeing Development Task Force, Members were advised that despite concerted efforts across the Vale of Glamorgan, it was clear that significant work remained in order to reach the objectives set out within the Food and Physical Activity Action Plan. It had been agreed that obesity was now the key topic for which a task force was being initiated to develop an ambitious, aspirational and innovative approach to tackling this issue.
The Chairman asked if officers could comment upon some of their concerns following changes to the Regional Collaborative Fund and the Intermediate Care Fund. In response to this, the Director of Social Services stated that it was right to say that the Directorate’s strategy had been to encourage the Health Board to invest in social care services that would help them to manage rising demand. He advised that Health had shown an open mind on the best way to use this grant. He praised the input of Council officers in being able to work closely with Health in devising joint health and social service projects and programmes.
Following the Director’s comments, the Head of Adult Services stated that in relation to the Regional Collaborative Fund, the two important areas here were the Learning Disabilities and Reablement services. With regard to Reablement services, this area would be realigned to the primary care services and a £100,000 investment would now become an £800,000 investment. The Head of Adult Services expressed some concern that funding the changed Learning Disability services did represent a challenge, particularly in relation to the reviewing of the high cost of care packages. In terms of the Intermediate Care Fund, he alluded to the joint working arrangements around such areas like the Contact Centre and the Accommodation Solutions Discharge Project and he advised Members that Health had evaluated how the money would be spent and how much of that would be allocated on a partnership basis with the Council and also other groups.
In reply to a Member’s query regarding the number of Delayed Transfers of Care, the Head of Adult Services advised that the figures shown in the graph within the report related to all health and social services delays. He stated that last year, 2014/15, the Vale had achieved some excellent results but that performance for Quarter 1 this year had deteriorated and, as this was an accumulative indicator, the performance by the end of the year would not be as good.
In summing up, the Chairman stated that overall this was a most useful report and that good progress had been made.
(1) T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continue to receive updates about the Vale of Glamorgan Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Partnership.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information.
Reason for recommendations
(1-3) To ensure that Elected Members can exercise effective oversight of this important area of collaborative working.
557 UPDATE ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELL-BEING (WALES) ACT 2014 (DSS) –
The Director of Social Services provided his latest monthly update report in relation to the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being Act.
The Act would come into force in April 2016 and this report updated the information considered by the Committee in September 2015, which included the following:
- A draft legislative time table setting out the proposed timescales for laying the remaining regulations and Codes of Practice before the National Assembly for approval.
- An update on the workforce development proposals being managed through the Care Council for Wales.
- The Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Regional Social Care Workforce Development Partnership mid year monitoring report and updated plan which was submitted to Welsh Government on 25th September, 2015.
- An update on the statutory Code of Practice in relation to measuring Social Services performance.
The Director advised that the updated Regional Implementation Plan, attached at Appendix 1 had been submitted to Welsh Government on 16th October, 2015. Welsh Government had agreed the plan and were happy with the progress outlined within it.
The Plan reflected the nine work streams being delivered through the implementation programme and included a risk assessment of the tasks required to implement the Act. The governance structure for this programme was appended to the Regional Implementation Plan (shown on page 28 of the appendix). For each work stream a regional Task and Finish Group had been established for which lead co-ordinating officers had been assigned.
The report highlighted that three of the four national work groups established to share best practice and produce consistent material on an all Wales basis had met. Cardiff and the Vale regions had appointed officers to each of these groups so that the service could contribute to the development of national toolkits and, where possible, avoid duplication.
Officers had been recently received a demonstration of a new national directory of services, called Dewis Cyrmu which had been developed by the Social Service Improvement Agency and had been piloted in North Wales. This provided a national solution for supporting the requirements of the Information, Advice and Assistance Services part of the Act.
Content on the site was organised under a range of themes, which were developed in consultation with citizens. These being:
- being well
- being at home
- being social
- being safe
- managing your money
- children and families.
The Director described how very detailed codes of practice regarding technical parts of the Act were now coming through and that staff were beginning to better understand the Act’s implications. He stated that he was still somewhat anxious in respect of the timescales and cited the example around I.T. systems. It was a huge undertaking to implement major changes in only a few months.
The Regional Lead Officer for Sustainable Social Services had attended the Welsh Government Act Implementation Communications Steering Group in October. This Group was focused on a national awareness campaign which would start in early 2016 in order to ensure that a consistent key message on the implications of the new Act was delivered to citizens across Wales.
A Code of Practice setting out in more detail the responsibilities of the Director of Social Services would be issued for consultation in October and it was anticipated that there would be a 60 day consultation period. Subject to any feedback and any proposed revisions, the final Code of Practice would be placed before the Assembly in February 2016 and would come into force in April 2016.
The report outlined how workforce development continued to be a high priority and that additional resources would be prepared to assist staff in their preparation for implementing the Act. The Care Council had developed an interactive e-learning module, which was based on the Information and Awareness pack. This was designed to give users a clear and simple overview of the Act. Furthermore, a guide to resources that supported the promotion and development of social enterprises, co-operatives, user led and third sector organisations was also available.
In querying the service’s readiness for the Act, the Director of Social Services commented that, if the national infrastructure needed to support implementation had been in place 12 months ago, he would be reasonably confident. He stated that he was anxious as the service was still waiting for Welsh Government to secure Assembly approval for some of the main Codes of Practice and Guidelines from the Act. A key aspect for the service was to provide reassurance to care practitioners around their ability to meet expectations following the Act. He went on to state that the service would implement as much of the Act as possible but new services would not happen overnight.
With regard to the possible phasing in of parts of the Act over time, the Director advised Members that from April 2016 the new Act would replace the old legislation. This would mean that there was a legal requirement to provide services in the way outlined within the new Act, although he still hoped that Welsh Government would make some public statements about the fact that implementation would be a long process.
Finally, the Director stated that, in his opinion, the Vale of Glamorgan Council was better placed than most other Authorities in Wales, building on considerable strengths.
(1) T H A T the contents of the report be noted.
(2) T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continue to receive regular updates about implementation of the Act.
(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.