Meeting documents

Social Services Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 13th July, 2017 9.30 am

Date: Thursday 13th July 2017 Time: 9:30 a.m. Place: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR S. THOMAS (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that there were no requests received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
2. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors M. Moore, J. Wilkins, J. Holt,

J. Mason - Executive Member

Noted
3. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
4. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (40K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the 16th June, 2016.

The Director spoke on the Action Sheet and it was agreed that the Flying Start Programme Briefing Session scheduled for February, 2018 be brought forward.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

Agreed
5. PROPOSED SCRUTINY COMMITTEE FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME 2017-18
Report (77K/bytes)
Appendix (677K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Performance Manager which was presented to be endorsed by the Committee.

Following a question regarding adding items to the Forward Work Programme, it was noted that additions could be requested by Members.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Forward Work Programme be agreed.

Agreed
6. CSSIW PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF SOCIAL SERVICES IN BLAENAU GWENT
Report (78K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (110K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the CSSIW which was presented to provide the Committee with the Performance Review Letter.

The Officer of CSSIW spoke to the report and highlighted salient points within the CSSIW Performance Review letter:

- Living Independently in the 21st Century Strategy
- Adult Safeguarding
- The importance of Carers
- Progress on the recommendations arising from Inspections

The Chair thanked the Officer for the excellent report and felt that as a new Committee the content would prove very helpful.

Following a question relating to the efficient use of resources in safeguarding the Head of Children's Services explained that to relieve pressures on Managers, Service Providers should be trained to have the knowledge and confidence to make decisions.

A Member requested information in relation to the recommendation of a quality assurance system and the Officer - CSSIW explained that the situation was not unique to Blaenau Gwent as this was an overall issue and to enable early identification of information and evidence, quality assurance needed to be carried out. The Head of Children's Services also advised Members that Quality Assurance Safeguarding Scrutiny Meetings were held three times a year.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted.

Agreed
7. ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES 2016/17
Report (118K/bytes)
Appendix (750K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Director of Social Services which was presented to receive the 2016/17 Annual Report.

The Director of Social Services spoke to the report and highlighted key points therein:

- Performance
- Social Services Well-being Act (Wales) 2014

Questionnaires / Surveys

A Member requested to know the ages of the children engaged in the questionnaires and expressed concern regarding the responses received, as it was felt that only 57 returned out of 330 was a very poor reflection and unfair to the Department. The Director of Social Services explained issues had been raised in relation to the poor return of the children's questionnaires; however discussions were ongoing with Welsh Government to explore a more beneficial way of liaising with children to receive a more reliable substantial comparison. It was noted that the age group of the children engaged in the Surveys were between 0 -18.

Encouraging and Supporting

Reference was made to the 12 and 24 month after care of the Looked After Children and the Head of Children's Services informed Members that this was part of a performance indicator to measure the progression of a child in work or in education at 12 months and again at 24 months, to ensure momentum was being maintained.

Care Homes

The safeguarding of residents in care homes was raised and a Member requested to know that in light of issues regarding safeguarding of adults in care homes what did Blaenau Gwent have in place to recognise and alleviate these problems. The Corporate Director explained that Blaenau Gwent had very good working relationships with Providers and visits were carried out on a regular basis; some visits were announced and some were unannounced, however the Social Services Department also relied on community visits and District Nurses to report any unsatisfactory findings.

Social Services Staff

A Member raised concerns regarding staff absence and asked that due to the sensitivity and nature of Social Services what safeguarding measure were in place to care for the health and well-being of staff. The Corporate Director advised that a number of measures were in place, including regular supervision sessions and Managers were trained to identify any signs of staff being under pressure of stress. However an independent support network was also provided and staff were encouraged to speak out if they felt distressed in any way.

Supporting People Team

A Member made reference to page 57 of the report and asked if funding would be provided for the Domestic Abuse Support Worker post. It was noted that this was grant funded by the Welsh Government as a pilot until March 2018 when a report would then be submitted to Scrutiny.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be supported, namely:-

- To accept the report as provided and recommend the Executive Committee consider the report before approval to Council.

Agreed
8. THE STRATEGY TO SAFELY REDUCE THE NUMBERS OF LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN / BUSINESS CASE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN EDGE OF CARE TEAM
Report (156K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (892K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (80K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (213K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of Head of Children's Services.

The Head of Children's Services spoke to the report and highlighted key points therein:

- Background and Context
(The 5 areas to help reduce/manage the number of looked after children)
- The Strategy to Safely Reduce the Numbers of Looked After Children
- Business Case for an Edge of Care Team
- Cost of the Edge of Care Team
- Options for Consideration

Looked After Children

A Member requested to know at what stage it was decided to place a child in care. The Head of Children's Services explained that each case was different, if a child was deemed low risk e.g., late for school, unkempt etc., Social Workers would interact with parents to assist in managing the child's needs, however if there was evidence of a child being abused or in danger of immediate harm, they are removed from the family environment immediately. The Officer explained that the majority of referrals reported came from Education, the Police and the Health Authority.

Edge of Care Team

Reference was made to the Business Case for the Edge of Care Team and the introduction of a 3 year project. A Member felt that to attract a larger majority of professional applicants it may be more beneficial to see a 5 year project. The Officer outlined the three phases and explained at the third phase the project would be evaluated where consideration would be given for the future of the project. She informed Members that a grant would be provided by the Welsh Government.

A Member questioned the reason for the need of a Team Manager and a Senior Social Work Practitioner. The Officer referred to the structure and explained that a Senior Social Work Practitioner would provide expertise in the absence of the Team Leader. The Service Manager spoke on the structure and explained the need for each role.

Following a discussion it was noted that there were no intentions of moving current staff into the new positions as the posts would be advertised both internally and externally in order to create a whole new Team.

A Member wished it noted that although he agreed with the introduction of the Edge of Care Posts he did not feel that there was a requirement for two Managerial positions. He proposed an amendment to the recommendation that a more detailed business case be presented to the Executive Committee outlining the rationale for this proposal.

The Head of Children's Services explained that the Managers positions were pivotal to supporting staff and managing their development. The Service Manager stressed that due to cost pressures regarding Looked After Children it was important to move forward with the development of the Edge of Care Team.

The Strategy to Safely Reduce the Numbers of Looked After Children

The Head of Children's Services spoke on the Observations - Strategy, Policy and Readiness and said it had been very helpful to have had an independent opinion and feedback of good practice from the WLGA.

In answer to a question regarding where Blaenau Gwent is anticipated to be in 3 to 4 years' time, the Corporate Director responded that there was a possibility that there would be collaboration with other authorities as it was becoming increasingly difficult financially to continue delivering services as a single authority. He stated that in terms of deprivation Blaenau Gwent was not receiving the necessary funding to meet this issue.

Further to the Member requesting an amendment to the recommendation regarding the Business Case for the Edge of Care Team and its staffing structure, and following a vote being taken on the amendment it was decided that the recommendation put forward in the report be supported.

Following further discussion, it was:

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely:-

- the strategy to safely reduce the numbers of looked after children be endorsed; and
- the business case for the development of an 'Edge of Care Team' as outlined in the report be agreed.

Agreed
9. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (46K/bytes)

Consideration was given to Agenda Items for the next Meeting of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee to be held on 7th September, 2017.

A Member requested that an update on the progress of the Edge of Care Team be added to the Agenda for the next meeting of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the following items be presented to the next Social Services Scrutiny Committee, namely:-

- Review of Supporting People and Community Care Contracts and Commissioning Update
- Childcare Pilot Progress Report
- Living Independently in the 21st Century Monitoring
- Quarterly Report of the Director of Social Services - Quarter 1
- Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

FURTHER RESOLVED that an additional item be added to the Agenda, namely:-

- Progress on the Edge of Care Team

Not Agreed