Agenda item

To receive a Presentation on the Bridgend Information, Advice and Assistance Service


The Chairperson introduced to Members the Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding, in order to give a power point presentation entitled MASH/IAA Annual Performance.


She explained the structure of the presentation would take the shape as follows, in terms of covering:-


  • Performance
  • Workforce
  • QA
  • Finance
  • Compliments and Complaints
  • Improvements achieved
  • Summary


The Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding confirmed that during Quarter 3 of the year, performance had shown a decline within the team whereby the staffing situation then deteriorated. There were very high sickness levels including many related to Covid and a number of staff had also left the service.


Therefore, a critical incident was called by the Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing on 1 March 2022. Gold, Silver & Bronze command structures were initiated to ensure governance, whilst the team was in a critical incident.


In view of this situation, daily meetings were held to consider the performance data and staff deployed from other areas of Children’s Services, in order to bolster the service.


An IAA action plan was developed and this identified the short, medium and long term actions required to make the changes to enable the service to exit the critical incident. The action plan focuses on increased situational awareness, communication, workforce, practice and quality assurance, systems, processes, policies & procedures & practice and assurance work.

An Innovate Team were introduced which commenced work on the 21 March 2022.


In January 2022, she advised that the screening rate was below an acceptable level. This was as a result of staff sickness, high rates of Covid 19 within the team and vacancies increasing, which all in all created a backlog of work. There had been as a consequence of this, some significant work carried out, in order to increase Social Worker and Team Management capacity.


The team then introduced a number of agency Social Workers. This enabled the team to screen within acceptable levels and as a result of this recruitment push, screening rates had now improved month on month.


Enhanced practice had taken place, to ensure that when a contact is received every sibling in the household is subject to the assessment. This has impacted in part on the number of assessments open to the service.


In Quarter 4, the team successfully allocated all of the outstanding C&S assessments. TM oversight was also strengthened and staff are now provided with their assessment deadlines on a daily basis which are colour coded to highlight what to prioritise first, from a work perspective. it was hoped this will further improve the number of assessments completed within the required timescales.


The focused work plan, additional support and the deployment of the managed agency team had also allowed the service area to begin to turn the corner in respect of performance.


A graph displayed as part of the presentation slides, reflected the improvement in performance that had taken place from January to May of this year, she explained.


This was confirmed in the form of statistical information added the Group Manager IAA and Safeguarding, by the fact that in Quarter 4, the service received 1332 reports, 577 of these became Care & Support assessments (43%). Compared to the previous quarter only 29% had gone onto a C&S assessment.


Also, added the Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding, the level of Strategy meetings being held increased over this same period from the previous Quarter 3 at 118 to 184 in Quarter 4.


In terms of the Services Workforce, she advised that there had been an increase in staff capacity of 25% and a commitment had been made, to keep caseloads in the region of 25 per FTE.


Alongside providing initially weekly and subsequently fortnightly supervision, cases had been progressed more efficiently than previous cases, including the transfer of these to the Safeguarding Teams.

The additional Team Management capacity had also had a positive impact as staff now felt better supported, were more confident to manage their workload, which in turn, had reduced issues of drift.


The reduction in caseloads had also enabled staff to attend further training, engage with peer supervision and participate in well-being sessions, such as Mindfulness and shortly Building Resilience workshops were to be introduced.


Also being rolled out, was a Back to Basics Training programme which would be mandatory for all Social Workers (agency included) as an outcome of a Rapid Review undertaken at the end of 2021. This training would concentrate in particular, upon professional curiosity and recognising coercive controlling behaviour.


Quality Assurance methods introduced, had also concentrated upon important headlines such as for example, Dip Sampling, ISW Audits, a strengthening of management oversight, TM’s chairing Strategy meetings and monthly WCCIS audits by Team Managers.


In terms of finances, the Interim Group Manager - IAA and Safeguarding explained that costs for the Innovate Team and the 11 agency Social Workers so employed for the Mash/IAA service, would be in the region of £1.2m by the end of the year. This would cover recruitment and retention issues and other associated issues, such as International Social Work Recruitment costs, Grow your own Increased Places, as well as covering Market Supplements


The Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding then explained how the team had improved in terms of responding to complaints more quickly and this had been acknowledged in the form of receipt of compliments from key partners and stakeholders.


In terms of improvements made overall, she explained that these could be summarised as follows:-


       By the Innovate Team;

       Through Pen Pictures of staff;

       Consent avenues;

       The Exploitation Screening tool;

       Greater business support in place;

       Peer Supervision being introduced;

       Mentoring being implemented;

       Daily Traffic Signal RAG’s timescales;

       Commitment to caseloads being in the region of 25 max;

       Chronologies and genograms;

       Since February there has been a significant increase in performance compared to previous to that


By way of summary to her submission, the Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding confirmed that in the current quarter the Mash/IAA Service had made significant improvements. However, it was still acknowledged that there was still work to be done. The priorities here were


       Completing the Action Plan

       All staff to attend Back to Basics Training

       Improvement in recruitment and retention

       Continuing to offer well-being initiatives

       Safe and workable staff caseloads


A Member asked if calls to schools for advice or information regarding young children and pupils were now being logged and documented for reasons of data capture and any required follow-up action etc.


The Interim Group Manager – IAA and Safeguarding confirmed that this was being considered as part of future designs for Children’s Services..


The Leader commended the work that had taken place to date in relation to Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs, where there had been involvement from key partners such as the South Wales Police, together with other operational groups and stakeholders.


RESOLVED:                                 That both the presentation and the positive progress that had been made in respect of the Bridgend Information, Advice and Assistance Service, be noted.