Agenda item

CSSIW Annual Report


That the CSSIW evaluation of performance and the Authority’s response to areas that have been identified for improvement, be noted.


The Chief Officer (Social Services) introduced the Care & Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) annual report on the evaluation of performance of Flintshire Social Services for 2013/14.


In presenting the report, Mr. Rob Gifford of CSSIW advised that previous feedback on paragraph numbering had been taken on board for future reports.  Councillor David Mackie conveyed Members’ appreciation for this.  Mr. Gifford provided background to the self-assessment of performance of Social Services carried out within each Council which, together with a range of supporting evidence, contributed to the publication of the CSSIW Annual Report.  In summarising the key messages for Adult services, he stated that there was evidence of progress in a number of areas, leading to more individuals living independently and fewer requiring residential care.  Less consistent performance was found on Children’s services, with some areas requiring strengthening, although there had been evidence of recent signs of improvement.  However, it was indicated that there had been an increase in the number of referrals to Children’s Services and those on the Child Protection Register.


Mr. Gifford drew attention to the Council’s response on progress to address areas for improvement identified for 2012/13, together with information on visits undertaken during the year and areas for follow-up next year.


The Chief Officer thanked Mr. Gifford for the report and said that the Council worked closely with CSSIW on performance issues and shared best practice throughout the year.  Within the Service Plan Improvement Priorities appended to the report, he drew particular attention to progress made on:


·         Ability to influence locally focussed strategic planning with BCUHB - where a high level of activity had been undertaken across the Council.

·         Initial child protection conference timescales / statutory visits for looked after children / timely personal education plans (PEPs) for looked after children - some areas had been identified as requiring further investment and the approach taken forward to look at the stories behind indicators to improve the quality behind statistics, for example the joint working with Education colleagues to improve PEPs.

·         Addressing the fall in numbers of known young and adult carers - good progress had been achieved through the resolution of data collection issues.

·         Reviewing the impact of recent senior management structural changes - significant progress was reported in moving to a new operational structure, with agreement of the senior management model and a third member of the team due to start in February 2015.

·         Absence Management outcomes and impact upon capacity - where significant improvements had been shown in the last year and would continue to be monitored for 2014/15.  The importance of considering the detail behind statistics was highlighted to ensure that individuals complied with reasonable expectations in terms of attendance.


In highlighting two areas of significant challenge, the Chief Officer referred to Health assessments for looked after children and work by the Council in encouraging Health partners to improve their performance.  He said that adult high quality nursing care was a national issue and that despite progress made in Flintshire, as indicated in the report, this remained a ‘Red’ risk status.


Councillor Mackie referred to concerns previously raised with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) about the impact of its performance on the Council’s performance indicators, and asked if a letter could be sent on behalf of the Committee to reinforce this message.  On the educational attainment of looked after children, he said there was a recognition of the challenges due to the different circumstances of children coming into care, eg  if the child had not received prior schooling, and therefore setting realistic targets for individuals was a better approach.


The Chief Officer suggested that further concerns on BCUHB could be raised directly with its Chief Executive who was due to attend a future meeting of the Committee.  He spoke of the need for the Council to maintain influence and pressure on partnership working with BCUHB, whilst recognising it was currently undergoing a period of change.  On educational attainment, he agreed with the need to look at the quality and nature of provision through joint working with Education.  The Service Manager (Resources) gave assurance of close working arrangements between Social Services, Education and a range of school partners.


Councillor Hilary McGuill raised various concerns on changes within BCUHB, the impact of any Council merger on outcomes for Children’s Services and the challenges on encouraging looked after children to take up health assessments.  In terms of educational attainment of looked after children, she commented on the impact from stability of placements which could be shared with the Committee, and the potential for access to Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).  Mr. Gifford agreed that baseline data should be assessed to establish reasonable expectations in terms of educational attainment and that presenting the stories behind individuals to CSSIW could be reflected in future reports.


In respect of BCUHB, the Chief Officer said that good professional and corporate relations were being maintained with BCUHB as one of the Council’s major partners, but appropriate challenge was an ongoing theme.  He advised that every opportunity was being taken to improve take-up of health assessments, as that the issue was regularly highlighted at meetings.  The Chair said that this also could be raised at the joint meeting with Lifelong Learning Overview & Scrutiny in Spring 2015.  The Cabinet Member for Social Services added that the issues of health assessments and educational attainment of looked after children had been highlighted at meetings of the Children’s Services Forum.


As a kinship carer, Councillor Andy Dunbobbin acknowledged the challenges around education attainment of looked after children but added that support was available through effective partnership working such as courses offered by Coleg Cambria.


Councillor McGuill asked how many beds were commissioned in nursing homes for patients leaving community-based hospitals.  The Chief Officer advised that a number of beds were available through the Intermediate Care Fund and a breakdown of the provision was shown on page 87 within the Improvement Plan progress report.


Councillor Amanda Bragg queried the reason for the increase in referrals to Children’s Services and those on the Child Protection Register during 2013/14.  The Chief Officer said that this rise had been experienced across many other Authorities and was thought to be due to increased awareness resulting from a number of high-profile child safeguarding cases reported nationally.  However, the level of referrals to date for 2014/15 had stabilised and was more in line with the Wales average.  Mr. Gifford was in agreement with these comments, as the data for previous years had been lower.




That the CSSIW evaluation of performance and the Authority’s response to areas that have been identified for improvement, be noted.

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