Councillor Jane Gebbie - Deputy Leader of Council and Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help
Claire Marchant - Corporate Director - Social Services and Wellbeing
Jacqueline Davies - Head of Adult Social Care
Carol Owen - Provider Service Manager - Support at Home/Accommodation Services
Jane Lewis - Group Manager – Direct Care Provider Services
The Head of Adult Social Care presented the report, the purpose of which was to provide the Committee with the outcome of the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Inspections of Bridgend County Borough Council’s Regulated Services in Adult Social Care during 2022.
In response to a question regarding the distinction between Priority Action Notices (PANs) and Areas for Improvement (AFIs), the Head of Adult Social Care advised that when a PAN is issued, the Local Authority is given a deadline to meet the requirement set and if the requirement is not met by the deadline, the Authority could be referred to an Enforcement Panel. She continued that AFIs were reviewed by CIW on reinspection and if insufficient improvements had been made, they could become a PAN.
The Committee thanked staff, acknowledging the difficulty of the job and the Head of Adult Services confirmed that the report had been shared with them.
In response to a question as to whether the service was surprised by any of the PANs or AFIs, the Head of Adult Social Care advised that they were already aware of some of the issues which were raised in PANs. She reassured the Committee that the service was working with management around all PANs and AFIs in a timely way.
In response to a query regarding the prospect of the resumption of Member rota visits to adult care homes and children’s homes, the Leader of the Council acknowledged the value of the rota visits for Members, staff and service users. He also recognised the benefit of them on the Authority’s governance and assurance arrangements as, prior to the pandemic, visits were undertaken not only to provisions managed by the Authority but also to commissioned independent and third sector provisions. He advised that Members need to be paired up for visits for safeguarding purposes and that they would look to reintroduce the visits next year.
The Head of Adult Social Care reiterated how rota visits were an important element of quality assurance processes and advised that a plan would be devised regarding the reintroduction of the visits which would commence with Member training. She suggested that rota visits start with the in-Council services before being rolled to the independent sector.
In response to a Member query regarding whether the service was up to date with the roll-out of the mandatory training and the reasons why CIW had reported that there was not full compliance with the training, the Head of Adult Social Care confirmed that the mandatory training was on a rolling programme; some annually, some every three years and some at induction. Prior to the pandemic, the rolling programme ensured that individuals knew when their training was due but that during the pandemic, the focus had been on keeping people safe, engaging with individuals and delivering front-line services.
Additionally, there was a backlog on training due to the limit on the numbers of people who could be present in a room together and the impact that social distancing had on the training of manual handling, for example. She continued that about 9 to 12 months ago, people had been allowed to come together more and that there had been a significant amount of commissioning work for training. She highlighted that the positive comments in the report demonstrated that the mandatory training was not impacting on staff doing their jobs. She also highlighted the difficulty of staff who may be booked on courses and were unable to attend due to covering shifts at short notice. Therefore, the service was developing e-learning and had bought iPads for staff to be able to access certain training remotely. Whilst the service was not yet up to date with mandatory training, she assured the Committee that there was a programme of work in place and she felt confident that they would be up to date in the next 6 months.
A Member asked whether each home had a Welsh speaker and if not, whether staff were trained in the language, highlighting that first language Welsh speakers living with dementia often revert to the use of the Welsh language.
The Provider Services Manager advised that there was at least one Welsh speaking member of staff in each of the four residential homes.
The Leader advised that the Authority offers and encourages members of staff to take up training opportunities and the offer of free training to improve their Welsh language skills. Whilst acknowledging the challenges of recruiting into Social Care roles, he advised that whilst not essential, use of the Welsh language was a welcome skill and highlighted the Authority’s work with Bridgend College to help identify the next generation of Social Care workers. He echoed the Member’s comments regarding first language Welsh speakers living with dementia, who may have become used to using the English language in their adult years, reverting to their use of their childhood use of the Welsh language and highlighted an initiative the Authority was supporting to encourage the use of Welsh generally in homes which had been applauded by the Welsh Language Commissioner.
The Head of Adult Social Care advised that they always seek to meet people’s communication needs highlighting an example of the efforts of the staff of one home who had learned sign language to communicate with resident with a hearing impairment.
In response to a Member query regarding what policies CIW had identified in the PAN and the work entailed to address them, the Head of Adult Social Care advised that there were a range of policies and that they had until the end of March 2023 to address them. She advised that the Authority had worked with Public Health Wales during pandemic around infection control but that the policy needed updating and that they were working with colleagues in the Health Board to help get the Medication Policy in line with national guidelines. She also highlighted that there were some corporate policies such as whistleblowing and the complaints process that needed addressing but reassured that there was a plan in place for each of the policies.
A Member asked, with reference to Ty Cwm Ogwr (TCO), how the AFIs around personal plans and supervision had arisen and how confident the service was in achieving the improvement by the end of March 2023.
The Head of Adult Social Care confirmed that TCO had come back into Council ownership in January 2020 from the independent sector which had different processes to Local Authority. She highlighted that the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the priorities were on keeping people safe and meeting their care and support needs. Moving out of the pandemic, the service worked with the management at TCO to transfer some of the Local Authority’s procedures regarding paperwork and, over the last 6 months, there had been a very targeted piece of work to ensure that all personal plans were of the expected standard. She advised that there was a rolling programme of supervision and highlighted that training was linked to overarching matters affecting the whole Directorate. She highlighted that there was a unique set of circumstances that led to the situation at TCO but was confident that there would be an improved position when CIW returned.
In response to a query about the effect the pandemic had on policies, staff and workloads, the Head of Adult Social Care advised that there had been a steep learning curve regarding infection control particularly around the introduction of personal protection equipment and the speed at which Regulations and Guidance changed and needed implementation. However, she highlighted that staff had been very adaptable and flexible and had shown commitment to the individuals they supported. She advised that whilst the Authority had always had an Infection Control Policy, CIW had picked up that it had not been re-written post-pandemic with the lessons learned.
The Head of Adult Social Care thanked the Provider Services Manager and the Group Manager for Direct Care Provider Services for their leadership and hours worked during the pandemic to meet the regulations for the benefit of the service users. The Corporate Director for Social Services and Wellbeing (the Corporate Director) also thanked all colleagues in residential care services and the Head of Adult Social Care.
The Chairperson advised that there were no further questions for the Invitees, thanked Invitees for their attendance and, advised that if they were not required for the next Item, they may leave the meeting.
RESOLVED: Following detailed consideration and discussions with Officers and Cabinet Members, the Committee requested:
That priority be given to rolling out Member Development Training in the New Year and work to pair up Members be expedited to allow Rota visits to children and adult residential provisions to re-commence as soon as possible.