Issue - meetings
Social Care workforce pressures and responses
Meeting: 09/12/2021 - Social & Health Care Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 47)
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(a) That the current staffing crisis in the social care workforce and the impact on the Council’s ability to consistently deliver a safe and effective service be acknowledged;
(b) That the action being taken in response to this crisis to ensure sufficient capacity and resilience to effectively support vulnerable adults and children be supported; and
(c) That a letter be sent to inform the Welsh Government and County Council.
The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced a report to advise of the challenges associated with recruitment within the social care sector and the national, regional, and local responses. He provided background information and context and gave assurance that the Council’s dedicated management team and staff were continuing to do their utmost to provide responsive services to vulnerable adults and children under current considerable and sustained pressures. He spoke of the increase of demand and complexity of needs, the lack of social workers (particularly at Level 3) and occupational therapists, shortage of a direct care workforce (particularly domiciliary care staff), a reduction in foster carers, and restricted supply of agency/ temporary staff.
The Chair asked how many social workers and occupational therapists were on long-term sickness absence or had left the County Council in the last 12 months. The Chief Officer agreed to provide the number to the Chair following the meeting. He explained that the welfare of staff was paramount and staff were fully supported to ensure health and well-being was maintained and workload/responsibilities were manageable.
Councillor Ellis referred to the comments she had made at the meeting of the Committee held on 30 September, concerning the pressure of £1.952m under Social Care Commissioning and had said that this did not reflect the current shortages and pressures regarding recruitment of staff.
The Senior Manager – Integrated Services and Lead Adults drew attention to the pressures in Adult and Children’s Services as highlighted in section 1.04 of the report. She said there were vacancies in all levels of social work in Adult Services and commented on the vacancies for Level 3 social workers and occupational therapists. She spoke of the equal value given to recruitment and retention of existing staff and said Adult Services was in ‘Amber’ position which meant that the Service was able to meet its duty of care and undertake assessments but this was taking longer than usual, there was higher demand, and people were being placed on waiting lists and cases were being prioritised. Detailed action plans were being produced and senior management meetings were held each week to monitor the position of care availability. Daily meetings were held with the Maelor Hospital, Wrexham, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan and the Countess of Chester Hospital to support patients.
The Senior Manager – Integrated Services and Lead Adults referred to the actions as detailed in the report and explained that there was a risk assessment for sickness absence and vacancies. She commented on discussion with the WG around the local authority having parity with the Health Service in terms of pay and terms of conditions for social work and direct care workers. She also spoke of the improvements in occupational therapy and the agreement with Wrexham Maelor Hospital to include the local authority as part of newly qualified Occupational Therapist rotation which would come into effect in the New Year.
Councillor Ellis asked if the criteria for eligibility for the Homecare service would be changing. The Senior Manager ... view the full minutes text for item 47