To present the report of the Director of Social Services.
The report of the Director of Social Services and Head of Adults’ Services incorporating the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Report following the recent inspection of Social Services – Performance Evaluation Inspection (PEI) was presented for the Committee’s consideration.
The Portfolio Member for Children’s Services (Social Services) and Youth Services in presenting the report said that the Social Services Departments, both Children and Families and Adults Services were inspected by Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) on the 10th – 14th October, 2022, as part of their routine Performance Evaluation Review Inspection (PEI). He noted that the report is to be welcomed as CIW identified areas of strength, good practice and service development and did not highlight any areas of significant risk or safeguarding matters. CIW has identified that the Authority demonstrated a strong enthusiasm and readiness to work with partner organisations and the third sector together with other services within the Council. He referred to the excellent work between the Social Services Department and the Housing Department as regards to the Cartrefi Clyd project. The Department also works closely with the Education Department as regards to the Hubs within the Secondary Schools. He further said that there is consistent, positive messages from the workforce regarding the quality of leadership and culture across both the children and adults’ services. He further noted that he was glad that CIW has recognised the political and corporate support the Social Services Department has received since 2016. In light of the financial challenges, it should be ensured that the support continues in order to further drive improvements across the children and adults’ services.
The Portfolio Member for Adults’ Services reiterated the comments made by the Portfolio Member for Children’s Services (Social Services) and Youth Services and welcomed the positive CIW report on the Social Services Department. He noted that this is the first time that there has been focus on the Adult’s Services which is to be welcomed. He wished to thank the staff of both the Children and Adult’s services for their work.
The Director of Social Services reported that he was appreciative that the CIW report was a positive report on both the Children and Adult’s services and especially during the immense pressure on the Care Sector, cost of living crisis and the pressure on the workforce to address these issues. He noted that there is an open and constructive relationship between the service and CIW with regular meetings held to discuss improvements within the service. He further said that whilst the report is positive there is continued work required by the service to address the needs of the residents of the Island and especially those with more complex needs within the Children and Adult’s service. Working in partnership with partner organisations and the third sector is paramount which has shown benefits to the vulnerable individuals on the Island. The Director of Social Services further reported that a Development Plan will be produced for both services which will be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.
In considering the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Report following the recent inspection of Social Services – Performance Evaluation Inspection (PEI) the Committee discussed the following:-
· What plans are in place to monitor progress against the areas that need addressing?
The Committee was advised that continued monitoring and auditing occurs within the Social Services Department and regular internal Team meetings are convened within both the Children’s and Adults’ Services to monitor data. It was noted that progress reports are submitted to the relevant Scrutiny Committee and the Social Services Improvement Panel which has a designated work programme. The Director of Social Services said that continued work will be required for improvements and development within the service so as to adapt to the changing needs of the residents. The Committee ascertain whether CIW will be revisiting the Authority to monitor the improvements as regards to their recommendations within the report. The Director of Social Services responded that there are regular meetings with CIW and they will be afforded the Development Plan to monitor the improvement within the service. The Chief Executive said that an Annual Meeting is convened with the Authority, CIW, Wales Audit Office and Estyn to monitor improvements and the regulators can see how the Authority react to the reviews and external recommendations.
· Reference has been made that comments within the CIW report had regards some weaknesses in recording of meetings.
The Committee was advised that whilst in some cases there was no record of an active service offer and that we need to enhance technology to evidence work undertaken. The Committee were assured that the matter will be reviewed so as to make sure that evidence based work is recorded and that staff are aware of the need to assure that there is a formal record of work undertaken.
· Are good practices shared with other local authorities?
The Committee was informed that both the Director of Social Services and the Head of Adults’ Services are part of the Regional and National Social Services meetings and good practices are shared between the local authorities to develop skills. It was noted that the Cartrefi Clyd project has been of interest to other authorities. The Portfolio Members also attend meeting with other local authorities and the Health Authority to communicate good practices.
· What are the main strengths, and how can we communicate these to celebrate the success?
The Committee was advised that partnership working is paramount and the relationship with the Health Authority is vital together with voluntary organisations, third sector and the private care providers on the Island. The development of staff within the Authority is also paramount and it has been noted within CIW’s report that staff are encouraged and supported with access to opportunities for professional development. The Authority has committed to promoting and sponsoring the training of Occupational Therapists and it is hoped that they return to work for the Authority thereafter. It was also said that joint working between the services of the Council has been imperative to the success of supporting residents of the Island. The Director of Social Services said that the success of the Cartrefi Clyd project has been celebrated for the work achieved in allowing children in care being able to stay on the Island rather than having to be looked after in other locations. He said that work is being undertaken to promote the career paths within social services. He noted that he had recently attended a careers session in Coleg Menai to promote the careers possibilities within social services sector.
· What are the risks to the Authority as regards to staff recruitment and retention?
The Chief Executive said that staffing is the main risk as part of the corporate risk register and especially within the front line services of the Council when dealing with vulnerable people who do not have family support. He noted that the Council has a workforce planning procedure to attract staff and retain those staff within the services of the Authority. The Portfolio Member for Adults’ Services said that the recruitment and retention within the Care Sector is a national problem. He noted that there is a need to develop the care sector for the future as there is an ageing population with more complex needs; Carers will also be required with expertise to address the needs of the vulnerable people with intense needs. Members of the Committee ascertain whether there was a professional balance of staff within both services within the Social Services Department. The Head of Adults’ Services responded that the Authority has invested in training programmes for local people to enable them to take advantage of the opportunities within Social Services. He further noted that external employees can also bring positive good practice with them to improve the service.
· What will be the role of the Social Services Scrutiny Panel, with this reassurance?
The Committee were advised that the Social Services Scrutiny Panel was initially established to address the issues raised within the CIW Inspection report in 2016. It was noted that the role of the Panel is to challenge both the Children’s and Families Service and the Adults’ Services when reports and presentations are submitted to the Panel. The Director of Social Services said that there is also a Corporate Parenting Panel as which meets on a quarterly basis which focuses on the most vulnerable children in care.
The Committee wished to thank the staff of the Social Services Department for their work in attaining a very positive CIW report.
It was RESOLVED to recommend to the Executive that the Care Inspectorate Wales Report be welcomed and to note the areas that needs to be addressed within the report.