The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing presented a report, the purpose of which, was to present to Cabinet the 2019/20 Annual Report on social services representations and complaints procedures as required by Welsh Government guidance. The Annual Report was attached at Appendix 1 to the main report.
She advised that Members will be aware, that there is a requirement for local authorities to have in place procedures for considering any representations or complaints made in relation to the discharge of their Social Services functions. This was the sixth Annual Report relating to social services representations and complaints received that have been handled in accordance with the revised Welsh Government Complaint Guidelines “A Guide to Handling Complaints and Representations by Local Authority Social Services” which came into effect on 1st August 2014.
The key elements of the Social Services Representations and Complaints Procedure, were shown in paragraph 3.2 of the report.
Cabinet would also note from the Annual Report, that strong emphasis is placed not just upon complaints, but also on the comments and compliments received from service users which gives an overall balanced view. The services were keen to learn from the information gathered and to use this to inform future service developments/service improvements.
The number of representations (complaints, comments and compliments) received during the reporting period, was broken down as follows:
32 statutory complaints
35 corporate complaints
201 concerns resolved pre-complaints procedure
This was a reduction in the overall number of complaints received in the stated period, but also a reduction in the number of compliments when compared to the previous reporting period.
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing continued, by advising that statistics reflected that the Directorate had continued to achieve an early resolution for complainants. The number of complaints resolved by this approach in 2019/20 was 201 compared to previous years, 234 in 2018/19, 198 in 2017/18 and 187 in 2016/17. Therefore, although there had been a reduction in the number of complaints with early resolution by 33 this year, the total overall number of complaints received in the year by the Directorate had also reduced by 44.
Further information in the report, highlighted that during 2019/20, 9 complaints were received by the Public Service Ombudsman Office (PSO), which were subsequently dealt with by recommendations from the PSO to the local authority, rather than the PSO formally investigating these complaints.
During the above period, the Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing confirmed that 6 rota visits by Members took place in adult social care settings, 12, in the independent sector, and 5, in children’s social care settings.
She concluded her submission, by picking out some other key information from the report’s Appendix to share with Members.
The Cabinet Member – Social Services and Early Help thanked the Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing for the report. She confirmed that whilst no one wished to receive complaints and representations, she was pleased that these were being dealt with by early resolution, particularly in this area of work which could be volatile and where there had been some sustained further pressures due to the Covid-19 situation. She thanked staff for being reactive and dealing with such complaints and representations swiftly in terms of responding to these. She also thanked Members for dealing with these, through engaging with their constituents and making the appropriate Member Referrals as and when required. Finally, she further thanked Members for their efforts in being involved in rota visits and hoped with the easing of the pandemic, social services care homes etc, could once more be visited by them in the not too distant future.
The Leader asked if the Objectives for 2020/21 in the Annual Report, including use of WCCIS to record complaints and increasing the take-up of the complaints awareness e:learning module, had been met.
The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing confirmed that these objectives were being met.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet approved the Annual Report on social services representations and complaints procedures for 2019/20.