Agenda item

Chief Officer's Annual Report



To provide the Adults Select and Children and Young People Sect Committees to consider and comment upon the Annual Report of the Statutory Director of Social Services.


Key Issues:

This is the third and final report of the Statutory Director of Social Services with

Monmouthshire County Council representing personal analysis and reflections of strengths and the challenges and opportunities facing wellbeing, social care and health in Monmouthshire. As it is a final report as Statutory Director in Monmouthshire, this is also an opportunity to reflect on the progression over the three years and advise Council how far we have come, and how much further we have to go to be the very best social services in Wales.


At the heart of the report is a vision for wellbeing achieved through connecting people and communities, person centred practice, and quality services. The standard we set is that every adult and child who comes into contact with social services in Monmouthshire, or who experiences wellbeing approaches from outside of social services, feels listened to and understood, feels that what mattered them (adult, child or carer), was central at all times, even, indeed especially, in the most challenging of circumstances. In reflecting back, and looking forward, the report sets out the key issues that an incoming Director of Social Services, the Council and partners will need to focus on in supporting our most vulnerable citizens to live their own good lives and to overcome barriers to fulfil their potential.


It is a statutory requirement for every local authority in Wales to appoint a Director of

Social Services, and for the Director to report to Council annually on performance and outcomes in the previous year, and highlight the direction and actions for the year ahead. The format of the report is required for all such reports in Wales and has been developed to show how we are meeting the requirements of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act (2014) and the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care

(Wales) Act 2016 (SSWBA).


Member Scrutiny:

The Chair appreciated the quantity of work involved but expressed the disquiet of the Select Committee that the report was presented in an unfinished state which made scrutiny more difficult. Following presentation of the report, Members were invited to ask questions and make comments.


·         It was confirmed that the aim is to have no agency staff by August 2018 but added that occasionally staff circumstances forces use of such arrangements as circumstances require.

·         It was explained that complaints can be dealt with informally in house at Stage 1 or alternatively can proceed to Stage 2 for independent review.  Complainants can miss Stage 1 and proceed straight to Stage 2.  The average cost of independent review will be identified and provided after the meeting.

·         Referring to Qualitative Measures: Children and Parents, concern was expressed that responses to opinions about standards of care were RAG rated red which compared badly against Welsh averages.  It was also queried that there was only one question asked of parents. In response, it was explained that the postal questionnaire is set by Welsh Government and there other ways information is gathered and not included in this analysis e.g. a high number of looked after children (LAC) attend reviews with the Independent Reviewing Officer where very different views have been expressed.  Evidence from external assessors supports that services are very child focused and that there is good engagement with care leavers.  Given this explanation, it was questioned how other authorities appear to do much better.  It was responded that it depends on who is asked and who responds to the survey; it is not always a like for like comparison.  Notwithstanding, some thought needs to be given to the outcomes.


It was suggested that Welsh Government should consider using a different method to capture data as there appeared to be no control on questions and how they are asked..  It was explained that a new Welsh Government Working Group has been set up to review the national outcomes framework and its use for children and families.  It was added that information could be broken down into cohorts to provide a better comparison.


·         A question was asked about access to over 18 adult care records and data protection requirements.


·         Considering My Mates, it was queried if there could be a similar scheme for lonely, elderly people.  The Head of Adult Services provided information about the scheme (now extended to people with mental health problems and possibly to elderly people in the future).  The Committee welcomed the news that My Mates is a finalist in the Social Care Accolades (Wales).  The scheme has been very successful and is now extended to the greater Gwent region. 


·        County Councillor P. Pavia declared an interest as an employee of ADSS (Cymru) and asked a question about how the authority is managing the fragility of the social care market e.g. new models of working between public and private sector, and a regional approach.  The Chief Officer confirmed that there is a regional working across Gwent, and that there is a Gwent wide marketing position statement.  There is also some funding to develop a feasibility study for a regional social care academy.  The main challenge remains how to secure a workforce in a county with a demographic of fewer people of working age and an aging population.  There is also the pressure of the requirement to register all social and domiciliary care workers by 2020 with Social Care Wales and that they undertake a standard qualification.


The Head of Adult Services explained about “Turning the World Upside Down” and the well established relationships with independent providers leading to the ability to co-produce plans and e.g. maximise runs.  A Members’ seminar will be arranged and it is planned to take Members out in their wards to see services in action first hand.


A Member wished to ensure that people who want to take up care work, but          are not academically minded, are not put off from applying because of the             requirement for a qualification.  The opposing view was also expressed that the qualification would add to the status of the role


            It was explained that a media campaign has been successful; also word of mouth and networking but emphasised that it is of paramount importance to have competent people through competency frameworks and accurate job descriptions that reflect good standards of care. 


·         A Member asked if the percentage of assessments of children completed within statutory timescales and identified as “Red” referred to e.g. autism, and if so, how improvements will be made.  The Head of Children’s Services clarified this was referrals arising from concerns about the safety or wellbeing of a child.  It was asked if the delay was due to a staffing issue.  It was explained that there are sufficient staff and that there is a 42 day timescale.  It was stated that no child is left at risk and staff are deployed according to level of risk.  It was added that this is an improving position and the target is 92% this year.


·         The Chair sought reassurance about the percentage of LAC at Key Stage 4 who achieved the core subject indicator. In 2016/17 the outcome was 29.41% which was above the Welsh average.  It was noted that in 2017/18 outcomes were 6.1% but still in the top quartile.  It was questioned if these pupils had been tracked and if this was an expected outcome.  It was explained that all but one child in the cohort of 15 has additional learning needs, the majority educated at additional learning needs settings or at the Pupil Referral Unit.  More work will be undertaken to satisfy ourselves that they achieved against their own potential, not necessarily against national standards.


·         Regarding young people with mental health problems, reassurance was sought of joint working between the authority and health services.  The Chief Officer responded that she chairs the Gwent Children and Young People Partnership, the focus of which is mental health and wellbeing and emotional resilience.  There is also a Monmouthshire Partnership that considers the skills to work effectively with young people. Early intervention in the county and the integration of primary mental health services has been successful. 

            There are regular meetings with health colleagues regarding specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) referrals.


·         The Chair questioned the role of elected members as corporate parents and for safeguarding.  It was reported that all have received safeguarding training.  Further corporate parent training is required and is an action point from the meeting.


·         A Member questioned, and it was responded that, Edge of Care service is being developed through core funding plus money from Welsh Government to develop family intervention services, fund support workers in teams and for rehabilitation and prevention.


·         It was explained that the Institute of Public Care evaluation was commissioned as part of the improvement programme.


·         Regarding the integrated wellbeing network, the specialist end of wellbeing workforce linked with GP practices was confirmed as an identified gap.


·         A Member was informed that but there is respite care available in Herbert Rd, Caldicot and also some foster carers supply respite care.


·         Equipment and adaptations are held by Mediquip at regional level and also in local stores.  Equipment is issued following assessment.


·         The Chief Officer answered a Member’s question that the biggest matter for her successor would be systems.

Text Box: Committee Conclusions: The Chair summed up on behalf of the Joint Select Committee that: • In future, reports are expected to be in a more finished format; • Further training should be made available to ensure elected members are aware and informed of the corporate parenting role; and • Welsh Government should be contacted regarding the need for better research methods to provided clearer qualitative data for evaluative purposes. The Officers were thanked for their contribution to the meeting and the Chief Officer was wished well for her future new role with Cardiff City Council.


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