To submit the report of the Statutory Director of Social Services (attached).
The Statutory Director for Social Services presented a report outlining the main messages regarding the performance of Social Services, to which attention will be drawn in the annual report in due course, and she outlined the main challenges and transformation programmes for 2019/20.
The Director explained that:-
· the annual report would be available in its final form in July, and would be circulated to all Council members.
· Due to personal commitments, she would be unable to attend the Full Council meeting in July to present the report. This year, therefore, an early high level report was submitted to the meeting of this Council.
The Director took the opportunity to thank all staff, internal and external, for their tireless and committed work once again this year. She particularly thanked Marian Parry Hughes (Head of Children and Families Department) and Aled Davies (Head of Adults, Health and Well-being Department) for their committed and valuable work throughout the year. She also thanked the scrutiny members for their input and Cabinet Members in the care field, Councillors W.Gareth Roberts and Dilwyn Morgan, for their support over the year. She also noted that she looked forward to working with Councillor Dafydd Meurig, who had taken over as portfolio holder for adults, health and well-being.
Individual members noted the following observations:-
· The report was welcomed and it was noted that the series of video clips about Hafan y Sêr, Hafod y Gest, Plas Hafan and Dementia Go, shown as part of the presentation, had brought the work of the service alive to members.
· It was noted that the provision had been transformed in recent years and many new and pioneering plans had been welcomed, such as the extra care housing at Hafod y Gest, the pilot scheme in Bethesda to transform domiciliary care and More than Just Words. Hafan y Sêr was specifically referred to, and it was noted that we should take pride in it as the only Welsh medium and bilingual provision for disabled children and young people, and share the message across Wales to show what is possible.
· It was suggested that every staff member should visit older people homes in their areas in order to see the excellent work carried out by staff.
· A request was made that a section be included in the full annual report about developments in services for people with autism.
In response to questions from individual members:-
· That the increase in the numbers of looked after children reflected our society and the challenges many of the children and their families were facing. This was why preventative work and early intervention were so crucial: to make it possible to offer this support to families and children, by working with the schools, etc, in the most appropriate way to prevent problems from escalating. Expectations had increased because of work done to raise people's awareness of safeguarding issues and the fact that looked after children now continued to live at home with their parents also contributed to the numbers.
· That it was commonplace to hear about independent private companies getting into financial difficulties; therefore, it was important to weigh up the most suitable care market for Gwynedd. As we had an internal provision and, as many provisions in Gwynedd had expanded, whether independent, third sector or private, this Council was not as dependent on large companies as some other counties. Nevertheless, clarity was necessary regarding the demands from the care sector; demand had to be mapped in conjunction with the sector; and, assurance that the provision, be it internal or external, was funded in order that it worked as it should. It was possible that there had not been enough clarity over the years, but the Council had to have a sustainable provision of a high standard in moving forward. Work was under way regionally and locally in this regard, to ensure that the right balance was struck. However, the Council had difficult decisions to make in a challenging financial climate.
· One of the greatest difficulties in the 'More than Just Words' field, was how to persuade independent, outside provision to fully comply with the requirements. Despite the expectation placed on them, and although constructive discussions had taken place over the years, they had not been given sufficient support to set about improving the linguistic provision. The Council was now supporting them far more proactively in drawing up policies, recruiting differently, and creating an environment within their homes that had greater emphasis on the Welsh language.
· Although it was community staff that maintained the care at the new Hafod y Gest, there was no intention to take away from the community. As tenants, the most appropriate care model for the residents of Hafod y Gest was domiciliary care. Therefore, rather than having one team in the building and another in the community, it was decided to set up one team that was able to discuss and prioritise the work among its members. It was believed that this arrangement would strengthen the community and the extra care housing. The Director, however, agreed to take this comment back to the teams so that information could be provided to satisfy the member that there was no risk and that this was something the service would monitor as time went on.
· Much had happened in the field of dementia in terms of investing in homes and collaborating with the Health Board to ensure a seamless and improved provision. Information about the developments in Dolgellau and Barmouth specifically could be sent to the member; however, the process involved making the buildings provision more suitable for people with dementia; then it would look at the way suitably skilled staff could be recruited to correspond to that investment.
· In response to a suggestion that there was room to improve the new arrangements for contacting Social Service out of hours, the Director proposed to talk to the member in order to find out about his experience of phoning in.