Agenda item

Monitoring Progress:Social Services Progress Report

To present the report of the Director of Social Services.



Councillor Llinos Medi, Leader and Portfolio Member for Social Services presented the report by the Director of Social Services setting out progress to date within Adults’ Services and the Children and Families’ Service along with a synopsis of the topics covered by the Social Services Improvement Panel across its 4 meetings held during the period March to July, 2021.


The Portfolio Member referred to the ongoing Foster Carer recruitment drive which has resulted in an increase in the Authority’s foster carers thereby enabling more children to be cared for on Anglesey and to remain part of their extended families and local communities. Further targeted recruitment is planned regionally for 2021/22. Two of the Council’s small family style homes (Cantrefi Clyd) are open and fully operational, the third which will provide short breaks for children and young people with learning disabilities has been completed and registration has been submitted to CIW. A fourth family style home is in the offing. Young Carers ID cards have been designed and are being rolled out. In Adults’ Services work on planning for a new extra care housing provision continues. The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted on the Shared Lives programme to support people living with dementia and their carers and a review of the programme is due to take place in December. Likewise opportunities for people with mental health needs will increase as Covid19 restrictions are eased – individual support sessions have resumed in some cases. Work to establish three Community Resource Teams has been undertaken during the year. Substantial progress has been made in the first two quarters of the year in the development of the WCCIS (Welsh Community Care Information System) Prototype on the Island – further details provided in the report. Whilst the Adults’ Learning Disability Day Opportunity Strategy is in place, formal consultation on the development of a greater range of high quality day opportunities for individuals in their communities will not take place until spring, 2022.


The Social Services Improvement Panel has continued to meet regularly despite the challenges and restrictions linked to the pandemic. The Panel continues to receive evidence of improvement and developments in both the Children and Families’ Service and in Adults’ Services which provides assurance on progress made thus far which is also confirmed by CIW’s local authority assurance check findings for Anglesey.


The Committee raised the following issues on the report presented –


·         Whilst welcoming the completion of the Adults’ Learning Disability Day Opportunity Strategy, the Committee expressed some disappointment that consultation on developing a wider range of day opportunities for individuals will not happen for some time until spring 2022. The Committee as well as wanting to know the reasons for the delay sought further information about the kind of community options being looked at in the meantime.


The Portfolio Member for Social Services clarified that smaller providers in particular had made it known that because of Covid-19 they would find it challenging to participate and respond fully to a consultation at this time; she acknowledged that the conditions in which to undertake a consultation need to be right for example being able to ensure an advocacy provision to enable all individuals to have their say. The involvement of People Too who work with local authorities to deliver transformation programmes meant that the Authority wanted to hear their feedback to confirm the direction it was taking was the right one and additionally more time was required to allow the newly appointed Head of Adults’ Services to have an input. For these reasons it was felt that it would be fairer for everyone to delay the consultation until spring, 2022. Community services have been, and are available, and decisions have been taken in order to meet the specific needs of individuals including by arranging placements where appropriate. The support provided by voluntary sector groups has been valuable many of which have adapted to provide different kinds of opportunities. Families and service users themselves have also responded positively.


The Older People Services Manager added that rather than providing the same provision for everyone via a central day care centre, the Service has sought to understand people’s individual needs and to tailor opportunities accordingly within the community in a way that benefits them and expands their interests and capabilities e.g. opportunities with the Lifeboat Service in Holyhead or gardening work; this is the model which the Service is working towards and hopes to extend across the Island.


Following on from the above, the Committee wanted to know whether the pandemic had led to an increase in mental health needs and how the Service had responded. The Older People Services Manager confirmed that the numbers are closely monitored and that provision has been centred on providing outdoor opportunities e.g. walking, cycling, camping and canoeing to help individuals with mental health issues shift their focus and look outwards. The process has been a creative one and has been appreciated by service users.


·         Reference was made to the shortage of home carers with the Committee wanting to know what kind of steps the Service is taking to address the issue.


The Portfolio Member for Social Services acknowledged that whilst the pandemic has accentuated the matter home carer recruitment issues pre date Covid -19 and have been recognised as a risk. Links have been established with Coleg Llandrillo Menai to publicise opportunities among the student cohort and a recruitment drive was held during winter, 2020. The general shortage of carers has also been escalated as a risk and a challenge within the WLGA. The Authority maintains close contact with the independent sector to monitor resilience and to establish the level of support required by the sector. The Head of Adults’ Services advised that a national recruitment drive is commencing this week in recognition of the challenge nationally of attractive staff to the care sector. Professionally, he was keen to look at the type of contracts provided in order to try to make the work more attractive and more stable and with the help and collaboration of partners across Wales, to raise its profile nationally highlighting the real difference that carers can make in the lives of individuals. This also means recognising that the work of care sector staff the challenges of which the pandemic has underlined, needs to be appropriately acknowledged and remunerated.


·      Reference was also made to the Council’s small family homes (Cartrefi Clyd) specifically how their purchase was funded and whether Welsh Government provided some of the finance required.


The Portfolio Member for Social Services clarified that whilst the initial intention was to source the homes from the Council’s housing stock, CIW’s standards regarding the physical environment with regard to the size of rooms meant that this was not feasible. The Authority has been fortunate in being able to access grants under the Intermediate Care Fund whereby grants are allocated on a regional basis and are earmarked via the Regional Partnership Board. The Authority has purchased 3 properties to date which will form part of the housing stock thereby adding value to the stock, generating savings that would have been spent on high cost out of county placements and providing the best possible care for children whom the Authority looks after in familiar surroundings within their communities.


It was resolved –

·           To confirm that the Corporate Scrutiny Committee is satisfied with the pace of progress and improvements mad to date in Social Services.

·           To recommend to the Executive that progress and pace of improvements in Social Services are adequate.


Supporting documents: