Agenda item

Social Services Annual Report 2021/22


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing, presented a report, the purpose of which was to present to Council the Director of Social Services’ draft Annual Report for 2021/22, and request that Members endorse the report, the analysis therein of the strengths and areas for improvement in Bridgend social services, and the next steps set out.


By way of background, she explained that following the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act (SSWBA) 2014, Welsh Government developed a performance framework which aimed to ensure that authorities report, on and performance evaluated against, the well-being outcomes of the SSWBA. The SSWBA has two key policy objectives:


·         to improve the well-being outcomes for people who need care and support;

·         and to reform social services law.


It also seeks to:


·         transform the way in which social services are delivered, primarily through promoting people’s independence and giving them a stronger voice and control;

·         promote partnership working in social care;

·         and, enhance the preventative role of social care and health, setting out overarching well-being duties to reduce or delay the need for care and support.


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing confirmed, that SSWBA, places strong emphasis on promoting the well-being of people who need care and support and carers who need support. It is important that the views and voices of people and their carers are heard.


The aim of the Annual Report she added, (Appendix 1 to the report) was to provide the Council and people living in Bridgend County Borough with an overview of social care.  It aims to highlight the progress made over 2021/22, being clear about strengths as well as areas for improvement, and identify priorities for 2022/23.


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing, stated that preparation of the report involved an analysis, based on evidence of effectiveness. Workforce across the services had contributed to the development of this report and there is evidence within the report of feedback from people who use social services and carers together with feedback from third sector partners. 


The guidance for the report sets out the sections in relation to the six national quality standards for well-being:


           Working with people to define and co-produce personal well-being  outcomes that people want to achieve;

           Working with people and partners to protect and promote people’s physical and mental health and emotional well-being;

           Taking steps to protect and safeguard people from abuse, neglect or harm;

           Encouraging and supporting people to learn, develop and participate in society;

           Supporting people to safely develop and maintain healthy domestic, family and personal relationships;

           Working with and supporting people to achieve greater economic well-being, to have a social life and live-in suitable accommodation that meets their needs.


The report provided a summary of the main achievements in 2021/22 considering the challenges faced and the report also highlighted the priorities for social services in 2022/23.


The report evidenced key service developments and improvements made during 2021/22, whilst recognising those areas where improvements and change are required. The report also identified the significant risks and challenges faced as the Council moves forward. This information has informed BCBC’s key priorities for 2022/23.


The report also highlighted some key information upon Regulatory analysis of performance, by the Care Inspectorate for Wales (CIW).


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing finally confirmed that the priorities for 2022/23 were detailed in the Social Services and Wellbeing Directorate Business Plan. The 10 overarching priorities for Social Services and Wellbeing in 2022/23 were shown in more detail at paragraph 4.10 of the report.


There were additional specific next steps identified at the end of each of the 6 standards which are reported upon.


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing explained in more detail about aspects of the Social Services Annual Report 2021-22 and future expectations, aims and objectives through a supporting power point presentation.


The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Services, wished to place on record her thanks to the Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing and her team for what had been an incredibly difficult 12 months across the Directorate, resulting from significant incidents with residents and the direct impact of these upon staff and the residents themselves.


There were continuing challenges that would be addressed as the Directorate moved forward and these challenges were significant as we function also within the confines of a cost of living crisis, the aftermath of the war, as well as Covid on our citizens health.


This afternoon, other agenda items would continue to give a flavour of the challenges BCBC faced, not only in its budget setting processes, but also in the recruitment and retention of key staff.


She added that since she had been appointed to her Cabinet role, she had become increasingly aware of these challenges that we faced. She had worked in Health and Social Care for in excess of 30 years and had never experienced the lack of funding forthcoming after years of experiencing austerity.


The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Services, had also never before experienced the current demands on the front door from residents, nor had she ever before experienced the difficulties in recruiting suitably qualified and experienced social care staff.


As Cabinet Member for this portfolio, she concluded by advising that she would continue to advise and update Members on these ongoing pressures, as well as making herself available for any Councillor outside of the meeting, should they wish to discuss these issues further, in more detail.


A Member referred to page 71 of the report and noted, that only 20 carers had engaged in the Wellbeing improvements and she asked why this was so low. She also asked how we could further engage with young carers, in order to take their view on the above and to look at ways to generally identify more young carers.


The Group Manager – Sports and Physical Activity advised that the engagement with 20 young carers had just been the first phase of a longer term programme, which had seen us working with Secondary schools, with us now moving to Primary schools also as well as the Young Carers Network. Since work had developed further, the engagement with young carers had increased from 20 to 190.


The Member was also concerned with the increased number of referrals in Social Services and the pressure on already pressurised staff supporting these, including in the area of Occupational Health. She noted particularly that there was pressure in terms of people trying to get into initial contact with staff, for example via the telephone. She therefore asked, if the push for further recruitment would cover this as well as accessing the Referral System.


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing confirmed that the work area of Occupational Therapy had shown some improvements, such as waiting times for assessments and this had been acknowledged by an Internal Audit undertaken the result of which was excellent. There were challenges however, in relation to the Telephony System at our ‘front door’ common access point(s). She added that BCBC would continue striving though to ensure initial contact levels are improved.


The Leader added that our young carers provision was evolving in-keeping with an increase in need and that the Authority and its key partners were endeavouring to identify more of the County Borough’s young carers.


The Member asked a further follow-up question, namely were the Council trying to reduce Agency staff and look to more recruit the likes of Social Workers, as well as ‘growing our own’ from within the workforce.


The Corporate Director – Social Services and Wellbeing responded by saying that that areas of the service were still highly reliant upon Agency staff, particularly in respect of our ‘front door’ service which was 60% higher than it should be at present. It was a challenge to look to reduce this reliance on such staff over the next few years, especially as professionally qualified people in this work area were not at a premium currently.


A Member referred to page 46 of the report and welcomed the Strategy in respect of Adult Mental Health and the cross collaboration in terms of working with Health Partners to support this. He hoped that the work here in order to best deliver the Strategy, included with primary care partners, as social prescribing provided support for individuals suffering from mental health issues.


The Head of Adult Social Care advised that partnership working in relation to the support and future delivery of the Strategy, included working with General Practitioners and the likes of key stakeholders such as BAVO, etc.


The Leader concluded debate on this item, by advising that there were pressures and challenges being experienced in the area of Social Services not only at an All Wales level, but right across the UK also. The Minister for Health and Social Care in order to attempt to alleviate this pressure, had introduced a Care Action Committee in order to address these pressures, so as to support care for older people within our communities.


RESOLVED:                                That Council endorsed the Director of Social Services’ Annual Report for 2021/22.

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