Agenda Item No. 10


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 6th October 2014


Report of the Director of Social Services


Service User and Carer Consultation 2013-2014


Purpose of the Report

1.         To ensure that Elected Members are provided with an overview of planned service user consultation activity within the Social Services Directorate.




1.         Scrutiny Committee notes the report.

2.         Information about consultation activity is reported to Scrutiny Committee annually.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To provide Elected Members with information about engagement and consultation activity with service users and carers.

2.         To ensure effective scrutiny of a key function undertaken by Social Services on behalf of the Council.


2.         The Policy and Quality Assurance Officer for Social Services, in collaboration with Heads of Service and Operational Managers, developed a three-year consultation plan for the 2012 to 2014 calendar years.  The themes of the consultation programme incorporate service priorities as confirmed by senior management and these are grounded in the findings from audit, inspection and other quality assurance processes including the monitoring of complaints.  The plan also schedules annual consultations which must take place to ensure compliance with the requirements for providing regulated service activity such as fostering, adoption, residential care, adult placement and respite services.  There is some flexibility so that we can also respond to emerging needs.  A copy of the plan is attached at Appendix 1.

3.         On the basis of the programme, the Policy and Quality Assurance Officer for Social Services undertakes an annual programme of consultation from January to December each year, to explore the experiences and views of service users and their families across Social Services.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The methodology for consultation activity is developed by the Policy and Quality Assurance Officer and team managers/operational managers.  Questionnaires are the most frequently used method, followed by semi-structure interviews.  Service users are provided with a range of options for engagement including telephone interview, postal return and face-to-face interview.  Symbol based questionnaires are developed for people who require them in this format.  Questionnaires can incorporate alternative languages and service users are always given the option to request a questionnaire written in the Welsh language.

5.         Where it is appropriate, attempts are made to contact as many servicer users as possible.  In most areas, this will be at least half of the population using services.  Response rates vary and, in some service areas such as child protection, it can be difficult to engage service users.  Where the response rate cannot be considered as representative of the overall population of service users, this is acknowledged in the resulting report and recommendations are made to improve rates for future consultation exercises.

6.         This year, for example, we identified the need to improve the quality of response to questionnaires leading to a better understanding of the service user experience and ultimately changes to service provision that provide improved outcomes.  For example, questionnaires have been expanded to ask more specific questions about information received by service users.  Also, newer service users have been engaged in the consultation exercise to obtain a more recent overview of the information they received.

7.         During 2013, we consulted on:

  • The levels of satisfaction with support and information received whilst receiving a protection service with vulnerable adults (POVA) and families in receipt of child protection services.
  • The Commissioning Strategy within day services for adults with learning disabilities.
  • The effectiveness of the signposting and information provided by Contact1Vale.  This is part of a rolling programme and new service users are identified each month.
  • The effectiveness of support to achieve independence within the Vale Community Resource Service.
  • Satisfaction with the support received in respite services.
  • Satisfaction with the referral process, matching, and placement within Adult Placement Services.
  • Satisfaction with moving into a residential home, the living arrangements and the general management within the residential service.
  • Satisfaction amongst foster carers about the support they receive.
  • Satisfaction amongst young people about the fostering process and the support received from their own social worker.
  • Satisfaction with processes and support surrounding recruitment, training, matching, placement and review within the adoption process.
  • Satisfaction with the process and support surrounding transition to adult services for young people within the Child Health and Disability Team.

8.         For each consultation exercise, a report is produced and an action plan developed to address areas identified for improvement.  To ensure that learning from one area is translated into improvements across the Directorate, issues are also collated thematically and an overview of the 2013 thematic learning follows.

Information provision

  • High quality information is provided at the start of the service.  This is particularly evident from consultation with all registered services, including Residential, Respite, Adult Placement, Fostering and Vale Community Resource Service.  Written information is available in paper form and on websites, although verbal information often appreciated.
  • Visits to service settings are found to be very useful and informative. 
  • In some service areas, more service-specific information would be helpful.  This was evident from consultation with those who had been through the POVA process, as well as those who received services from the Vale Community Resource Service and Adult Placement hosts.
  • In most cases, communication between staff, service users and their families has been at a good level but there does need to be more consistency.

Planning and Review 

  • Respondents report a high level of involvement with care planning.
  • Documents relating to care planning have generally been explained and provided to service users and families. 
  • The matching process has been a positive experience for many respondents within Adult Placement, Fostering and Adoption services.
  • Respondents have stated that more explanation is required about reviews and their purpose.  Timescales of care planning and reviews also require further explanation.

Services and Support

  • Respondents report receiving excellent support through key periods such as transition, the start of a residential service and times of social isolation.
  • Respondents provided positive feedback regarding their treatment and the treatment of their families by staff across social services.
  • Accommodation and living arrangements are found to be satisfactory in settings across the Vale of Glamorgan.


  • Most carers who responded feel informed about any issues relating to the service user’s support.
  • Service users’ needs are catered for by the services in most cases.
  • Carers Assessments are not always offered and carried out.
  • Some carers feel that the Social Services Department in general does not take their own needs (as a carer) into account in the way that it supports the service user.  This might be because they are not able to access sufficient respite for their needs or do not feel that they are able to have a break from caring.


Complaints and Compliments

  • Where complaints are made, most people have been satisfied with the outcome.
  • Nearly all young people know who to speak to when they need to make a complaint/ compliment.
  • Many people have provided compliments both verbally and in writing.
  • Some respondents say that they are not aware of the complaints procedure and that they have not received a copy of it.
  • Where some have not been satisfied with the response to a complaint, this is due to lack of timely communication between the complainant and the team concerned.

What was learned?

  • Many areas of good practice were identified.
  • Social Services are responsive at times of emergency (e.g. placements).
  • Advice and support is available from professionals.
  • Service users are usually treated as individuals and this personal approach works very well.
  • Staff display knowledge and professionalism.
  • There is generally a good level involvement in planning and reviews so that people feel part of the process.

Improvements desired by respondents:

  • Outings for service users to take place more often.
  • More stimulation/conversation during the time spent in service settings.
  • Updating menus/decor of residential and day settings.
  • Timescales for completion of processes to be reduced.
  • More consistent communication across teams.
  • More consistency from social workers across teams.
  • Less delay in returning calls, particularly to young people.
  • Provision of complaints information to be more consistent.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.         Consultation activity is carried out within existing resources.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.      There is a requirement for local authorities to consult with service users in the delivery of regulated social services.

Crime and Disorder Implications

11.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising directly from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

12.      The Local Authority is required to comply with its duty under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.  Section 149 requires a Public Body when carrying out all of its functions to give due regard to the need to limit discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations in respect of the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

13.      Consultation activity is designed to promote equality of opportunity and ensure that service users and carers are able to respond according to their ability and preferred method.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  • Citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan can easily access efficiently managed services that are focused around their needs, have confidence in how decisions are made and are proud to live in the Vale.
  • HSCW12 - Consult annually with vulnerable adults involved in formal protection arrangements (POVA) and use the information to bring about improvements.

Policy Framework and Budget

14.      The report is in accordance with the Council's policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

15.      There are no matters in this report which relate to an individual Ward.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.      Social Care and Health

Background Papers



Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation.


Officers Consulted

Laura Eddins - Policy and Quality Assurance Officer, Social Services.

Colette Limbrick – Operational Manager, Safeguarding and Performance.


Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services