Agenda Item No.













The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) had reviewed and analysed evidence from the 2013-14 performance year, and Committee received the overall evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Social Services and evidence areas of progress and areas for improvement. 


The CSSIW Area Manager began the presentation by summarising some of the key points identified within the performance evaluation.  The CSSIW had noted that the Director’s Annual Report highlighted the success and challenges and it had set out the Council’s priorities for 2014/15.  Measured against national strategic indicators there was some variability in the Council’s performance, although overall it was considered to be good.  The Council continued to provide strong leadership and planning within Social Services and there were clear and robust financial plans in place.  The evaluation noted that the Council reported an increased demand for services, which was leaving a number of service areas under pressure.  However, the Council had a number of strategies in place to attend to these service gaps. 


Reshaping Services


In Adult Services, it had been reported that the Council had developed good initiatives and provided a good foundation for joined up commissioning in the future.  An area of improvement had been highlighted in relation to the rate of Delayed Transfers of Care from hospitals for social care reasons.  This was almost double the Wales average figure and it had been reported that this was due to a significant growth in demand for services and vacancies in key teams. 


For Children’s Services, the Children and Young People’s Commissioning Strategy made clear reference as to how social care needs for children, young people and their families would be met within the resources available to the Council during the period 2013 to 2018.  Priorities included the need to maintain effective partnership working with all agencies.  The Council had also continued to promote stability and permanency for Looked After Children through its strategies of revoking care orders for children and young people who had been placed at home with their parents. 


Getting Help


The CSSIW had identified that within Adult Services there was a good range and availability of domiciliary care services.  Reference was made to the Carers Support Officer and the impact this appointment had made in respect of more effective and timely assessments of carers’ needs.  Waiting lists within the Occupational Therapy service continued to show good improvement but the evaluation did highlight that there were still areas for improvement in respect of timescales for the delivery of Disability Facilities Grants. 


In respect of Children’s Services, preventative services featured very strongly within the Council’s planning and intervention programmes, with Flying Start and the Families Achieving Change Together (FACT) team highlighted within the evaluation.  The Looked After Children inspection noted concerns about the ability of services for children and adolescents with emotional and mental health issues.  It had also been recognised that this was a national problem across all Local Authorities.  The Council had made significant improvements within its youth offending work and a Short Quality Screening assessment made by HM Inspectorate of Probation found a very positive picture within the Vale of Glamorgan. 


The Services Provided


Following the assessment of services provided within Adult Services, Members were advised that there was a good range of services provided that met the needs of all vulnerable groups.  The Council managed services but were also developing more resilience through increased integration and partnership working. 


The evaluation had evidenced that within Children’s Services the demand for the FACT team was high and at times exceeded available capacity.  An area of progress was around the increase in the number of foster carers and the increased focus on providing placements for respite, sibling groups and children with especially complex needs. 


Effect on People’s Lives


The Committee noted that areas of progress within Adult Services included the implementation of the Integrated Discharge Service model and the recruitment of a placement advisor.  However, the monitoring of contractor services by the Local Authority was an area highlighted for improvement. 


Within Children’s Services, Members noted the need to improve rates of statutory health assessments, Personal Education Plans and the percentage of young people formerly looked after known to be engaged in education, training or employment. 




In assessing the Council’s ability to deliver Social Services, the evaluation highlighted that effective plans for managing the financial challenges were in place and the Council had developed a plan intended to prepare the workforce for the future.  The CSSIW’s review of commissioning concluded that contract monitoring could be improved by developing a clear focus on the quality of care experienced by the service user.  Members were also asked to note the continued work with Cardiff Council and the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to resolve difficulties in securing sufficient long term nursing home placements. 


Providing Direction


Findings from the peer review exercise had concluded that there was good chairing at Scrutiny, good relationships between officers and Members, and that party political considerations did not impinge on effective scrutiny.  The Council also continued to provide strong leadership in Social Services and the Council continued as lead in respect of improving regional working. 


In closing the presentation the Regional Director briefly summarised how the CSSIW came about its findings.  She advised Members that a number of visits and inspections were undertaken during the year and that regular meetings with officers and staff members had been undertaken.  Inspectors also had opportunity to speak to service users through various forums and engagement events. 


Members were then given the opportunity to comment on the inspection and evaluation review and the following points were raised.


The Chairman, in reference to the Council’s ability to manage demand for family services, queried whether there was any useful advice that the Inspectors could share with Members.  In response the Regional Director advised that it was important to focus upon the lower level of needs for families requiring support services.  It was also important to develop an integrated preventative support service. 


A Member, in recognition of the issues facing the FACT Team and issues around Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), queried whether there was anything that could be learned and shared from best practices identified by the Welsh Government (WG).  In reply the Committee was advised that the problem was around limited resources and throughout Wales this was widely known.  Regarding the FACT service, the Committee was informed that CSSIW had undertaken a site visit as opposed to a full inspection.  However, the service had received very positive feedback and had shown that it was able to support its service users to a high standard and the skill level of the staff was highly regarded.  In some parts, the success of the service had increased demand and this had created a significant challenge for the service.  Further to the point of sharing of best practice, the Regional Director acknowledged that other Local Authorities had similar issues and were taking different strategies in order to tackle these.  It was a concerted effort to identify the right size of service delivery and whether there was a need for less or more resources.  One important development had been around using the full skills and abilities of a wide range of professionals to undertake different aspects of work - for example, did all Care Management Reviews need to be undertaken by a fully qualified social worker? 


A Committee Member, referring to key Performance Indicators and national set indicators, queried whether there were any particular areas where the Vale needed to do better.  In response the Area Manager stated that one area that the evaluation focused on was in relation to Looked After Children and the rate of Personal Education Plans completed.  Members were also advised that there was a need to get behind and understand the number of people aged 65 and older supported within the community and that the Council should focus more on outcomes for individuals. 


In reply to a query regarding the length of time taken to complete the report, the Committee was advised that the evaluation was based on a full year’s work that included a snapshot of the national set indicators at the end of the relevant financial year.  A big part of the evaluation was the Director of Social Services’ Annual Report which would be completed in a retrospective manner and thus the timescales for producing the final report would be greater than a calendar year.


A Committee Member enquired as to what area CSSIW would like to evaluate first during the next period of evaluation.  The Committee was advised that follow up work would be pursued in relation to the Cardiff and Vale Mental Health Service.  Members were also asked to note that quarterly meetings between the CSSIW and officers would be key in assessing progress and monitoring outcomes following the evaluation. 


A Committee Member sought clarification as to whether other partner agencies would receive an opportunity to comment upon the report.  The Committee was advised that as the report was specific to the Vale of Glamorgan Council, it was not shared with organisations like health or other partners.


In reply to a query in relation to how Performance Indicators could be affected by a small cohort, such as Looked After Children not in education, employment or training, the Committee was advised that the issue of young people who were not in education, employment or training was not just related to Looked After Children.  If the cohort within the Performance Indicator was small, this would be quantified within the narrative.  It was stressed to Committee that this was a corporate responsibility and it was important for a Council to treat Looked After Children as if they were their own so this was a very important Indicator. 


Further to this, the Committee Member commented that most national set indicators were very quantitative but provided very little qualitative information.  The Member queried whether the Inspectors could provide any feedback and general overview of the quality of Services that they had observed as part of the evaluation.  In response, the Committee was advised that feedback had been very positive, particularly in relation to care staff within residential homes. 


At this point the Director of Social Services provided some comments and made reference to the report being a credit to Social Services’ staff and also service providers.  He stated that the Council still faced considerable challenges and it was good to know that the service was building upon good practice. 


In conclusion, the Chairman thanked the representatives of CSSIW and stated that the report reflected very well on the staff of the Directorate.  It was subsequently




(1) T H A T the key messages to emerge from the evaluation, including areas of progress and areas for improvement be noted.

(2) T H A T the report and presentation of the Chief Inspector’s Annual Performance Evaluation of the Vale of Glamorgan’s Social Services Department 2013-14 be referred to Cabinet.

(3) T H A T the staff of the Directorate be informed of the Committee’s appreciation of the good performance highlighted within the CSSIW’s performance valuation for 2013-14.


Reasons for recommendations


(1) To ensure that Members are kept informed about outcomes from independent evaluation of Social Services performance in the Vale of Glamorgan.

(2) To update Cabinet of the good work and areas of progress and improvement highlighted within the Annual Performance Evaluation for 2013-14.

(3) To pass on the Committee’s thanks to staff within the Directorate.”



Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 1st December, 2014