Agenda Item No. 10


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 13th July, 2015


Report of the Director of Social Services


Service User and Carer Consultation 2014


Purpose of the Report

1.         To ensure that Elected Members are provided with an update on consultation activity during 2014, an overview of the ongoing service user engagement activity within Social Services and information about future plans for consultation.


That Scrutiny Committee:


1.         Notes the Service User and Carer Consultation Report.

2.         Continues to receive information about consultation activity annually.

Reason for the Recommendations

1&2     To ensure effective scrutiny of a key function undertaken by Social Services on behalf of the Council.



2.         The Directorate's Policy and Quality Assurance Officer undertakes an annual programme of consultation from January to December, to explore the experiences and views of service users and their families across Social Services.  The themes of the consultation specifically incorporate service priorities as confirmed by senior management.

3.         A three-year consultation plan is developed with Operational Managers and Heads of Service allowing sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging needs.  The current plan is set out in Appendix 1.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The three-year plan schedules annual consultations which must take place to ensure that the service is compliant with the requirements for providing regulated services e.g. fostering, adoption, residential care, adult placement and respite services.  Other consultation is arranged according to the requirements of service areas, (including plans to develop or change services), and the outcomes of inspection, audit and other quality assurance activity (including complaints).

5.         The methodology for consultation activity is agreed and developed through dialogue between the Policy and Quality Assurance Officer and operational managers/team managers.  Depending upon which service is being reviewed, the methodology can vary but often comprises questionnaires and interviews.  Service users are provided with a range of options for engagement including telephone interview, postal return and face-to-face interview.  Symbolic questionnaires are also designed for people who require them in this format.  Questionnaires can also be made available in alternative languages, if required.

6.         We continuously revise our approach on an empirical basis.  For example, questionnaires have been expanded to ask more specific questions about information received by service users.  In 2014, consultation has been targeted on newer service users and carers, to obtain a more contemporary overview of services and service quality.

7.         During 2014, consultation was undertaken in the following areas:

·         Satisfaction with support, information received and level of involvement from the protection service with vulnerable adults and their families (POVA) and families in receipt of child protection services;

·         The effectiveness of the signposting and information provided by C1V for the preceding two years;

·         The effectiveness of support to achieve independence in a pilot scheme of an “enhanced” 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 the Residential Care Service (moving in, living arrangements and general management);

·         Satisfaction amongst foster carers about the support surrounding the fostering processes; and

·         Satisfaction with processes and support available during recruitment, training, matching, placement and review within the adoption process.

8.         A report is produced for each consultation and an action plan is developed with appropriate managers, 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.  A copy of the annual report is attached at Appendix 1.


Overview of 2014 thematic learning:

9.         Information provision

·         Users of services were satisfied with the information they received before services started but, some wanted more about costs/financial implications of the service they were going to receive.  

·         People were generally pleased with the quantity and quality of the documentation that they received before and during service delivery and found it to be relevant.

·         Officers were reported as being polite and helpful when providing information.

·         Areas for development in the provision of public information include more detail about financial costs attached to services, information to improve awareness about protection services and information about the different roles of individuals within teams.

10.      Services and Support

·         Support and assistance are consistently available to meet service users' assessed needs.  Many feel help is available in the right settings.

·         Many service users felt involved in the planning of their care and that the services provided meet their needs.  

·         Issues that were problematic prior to becoming involved with services such as Youth Offending were reduced on completing the service.  This was recognised by both service users and carers.

11.      Carers/Relatives:

·         In most settings, carers were satisfied with the information and the support the service user receives.  Visits to care settings prior to the start of service delivery were appreciated.  Carers felt that the service provides support and assistance appropriate for the service user’s needs.

·         Officers are highly regarded across all services consulted, particularly with respect to support provided and the help they give to service users.  However, carers/relatives reported not always feeling supported enough in terms of their own stress and ability to cope.

·         Consistent completion of carers' assessments and ensuring that people understand what the assessment entails are areas for development.

12.      Complaints and Compliments:

·         Provision of complaints information remains inconsistent and respondents could not always recall whether they had been provided with a copy of the procedure.

·         Where a complaint had been made, respondents feel mostly satisfied with the way in which it had been managed and resolution had been achieved in most cases.  Many respondents had not felt the need to make a complaint and had provided a compliment.

13.      Respondents reported the following as being helpful to them.

·         Being involved actively throughout their contact with Social Services.

·         Officers being friendly and supportive.

·         Having elements of the service explained in detail.

·         Having tailored interventions that help achieve specific outcomes.

·         Being able to regain or maintain independence as a result of the support provided.

14.      Respondents also identified areas for improvement that would assist them:

·         For young people, greater social worker continuity and more contact.

·         More contact and follow-up in some cases to ensure that the service has worked/is working well.

·         Being introduced and having opportunities for mutual support with others involved with Social Services in similar situations (young people in care, parents involved in youth offending services, foster carers who are new to the service).

·         More information about events taking place in care settings to keep service users informed and involved.

·         More interaction between staff and service users in settings.

15.      There is a procedure in place to ensure that actions identified in consultation activity are addressed by the specific service area.  Thematic learning is shared more widely across the Social Services Directorate at the Social Services Management Team meetings and Divisional Management Team meetings.

16.      The Policy and Quality Assurance Officer strives to engage as many respondents as possible and continues to adopt a mixed methodology to enable users of services and their families to engage using a method that suits them.  Interviews yield the best quality information and this method is used wherever possible.

17.      To support children and young people to engage more in talking about and influencing what matters to them, a standing young person’s reference group is being developed.  There are already expressions of interest from young people which the Policy and Quality Assurance Officer is pursuing.

18.      The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 sets a whole range of new challenges for local authorities, including a requirement to undertake an increased amount of consultation across the Council and a right to independent advocacy.  Work will be undertaken during 2015 to ensure that this service is able to meet the new requirements under the 2014 Act.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19.      There are no resource implications as a direct consequence of this report.  However, the current resource for consultation is unlikely to be sufficient to meet increased statutory expectations in respect of consultation.  There may be some scope in exploring regional approaches, to achieve economies of scale but it is essential that we maintain a local perspective and a focus on our own service users and carers.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

23.      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.  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

24.      '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.'

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

26.      There are no matters in this report which relate to an individual ward.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

27.      Social Care and Health

Background Papers



Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation.


Officers Consulted

Policy and Quality Assurance Officer, Social Services

Operational Manager, Safeguarding and Performance


Responsible Officer:

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services.