Waiting times go from nine weeks to one as new social care approach develops in York

The council’s new approach to adult social care has been given unanimous approval by customers, as the next Talking Point opens on Thursday 25 October at York Explore.

Residents needing support and help can visit social care staff at the library between 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm every Thursday, for both drop-in support and pre-booked appointments.

The service gives residents earlier access to face-to-face conversations with adult social care staff, closer to where they live at Talking Points. These conversations help identify issues allowing staff to refer residents to a wide variety of appropriate support, from physiotherapists to opticians, to local activities and resources.

This quicker, tailored and highly effective access to information, advice and support started at Talking Points which opened at Lidgett Grove Methodist Church in March 2018 and continued with the opening of a Talking Point at Oaken Grove, Haxby in July this year.

Feedback from people using this informal but informative option at Lidgett Grove and Oaken Grove have so far expressed over 95% satisfaction with the outcome of their conversations and actions taken. All service users saying they would recommend Talking Points.

Since March this year, the impact of the first Talking Point at Lidgett Grove has included:

  • Slashing waiting times for a full social care assessment, from an average nine weeks to less than a week. This is the time between an initial meeting and then discussing support needs in detail and putting support in place at a hub
  • Over 95% of people invited to the hub have said they were satisfied with the experience and, most importantly, the actions and outcome of their conversation at Talking Point
  • More than half of the people who, under the old system would usually have opted for a full social care assessment, felt the support they were offered met their needs and so declined the full assessment
  • The number of people needing paid-for social care services has fallen from 65%, to 43%.

New to the York Explore Talking Point are drop-in sessions as well as pre-booked appointments.

Further Talking Points will continue to open across the city as the programme develops.

Barbara Swinn, York Explore manager, said: “After the terrific start of Talking Point in Acomb and Haxby we’re looking forward to welcoming residents of all ages so they can chat with Talking Point staff about how together, we and they and the community, can bring about improvements to their lives and how they want to live it.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care said: “This third Talking Point in the centre of York serves people who find it easier to come and see us in town, and is the latest in a series which we plan to open across the city. I’m delighted to hear about the positive impact our other Talking Points are having on people’s lives.

“Our experience in York so far, is in line with the better experiences and outcomes for residents reported in other cities using this approach. It makes it easier for residents to access and source effective early intervention and support.”

Wintertime adult social care boost

City of York Council has been allocated £731,000 by the Government to support adult social care needs this winter

The funding is targeted at people who don’t need to be in hospital but who do need care. It will support people as they return home whilst freeing up more hospital beds, including getting people safely back home from hospital at the weekends.

While the detailed grant conditions have not yet been shared, we will be working closely with our NHS partners to target the money towards initiatives which will make the biggest difference to the city’s more vulnerable residents and to the whole system.

Prime York city centre redevelopment site still unused

The former Willow House elderly persons home on Long Close Lane, next to the Bar Walls, is still empty. The buildings, which are in reasonable condition, were abandoned by the Council in early 2017.

The site was slated for use as student flats following a successful planning application in October last year.

The site was then  subject to a wrangle about the use of, and continued access to, adjacent green space.

The security fencing makes a poor backdrop for the many visitors who walk along the adjacent walls.

Further down Long Moor Lane, highway officials have allowed  bushes  to completely block the public footpath; adding to the general impression of neglect in the area.

Willow House stands abandoned with no sign of redevelopment work starting.

Hedges completely block public footpath

£100 to park your car. Expensive neighbourhood

So how good is the York Council at communicating?

The York Council is trumpeting today that, in an independent test, it scored a maximum 4 stars score for its web site. In a media release it claims that this ranks it in the 37 best (out of 414 checked) in the country according to an assessment published by SOCITM

A closer look at the figures reveals that only Social Care services, road works and refuse collection were checked. It is more than ironic that green bin emptying in parts of the City collapsed last week with little or no information on recovery being provided on the Councils web site.

On line access to parking space availability has been unavailable now for over 4 years.

Even its confusing array of secondary web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts provided little reliable information about recovery plans while it would be Friday evening before the Council tweeted that it needed to recruit more HGV drivers.

But the main concern remains that, despite assurances over the last 5 years or more, the “report it” pages, which should allow any public service issue to be reported 24/7, remains inadequate. Many services, such as Council housing, are simply not listed while it is impossible to corelate complaint reference numbers with the original issue.

The best way to test the Council web site is to use the search engine visible on the first page.  Listings are less than intuitive.

Perhaps coincidentally, officials will be updating Councillors next week on “progress” made with their digital services programme.

They say that only street lighting and street cleansing issues can by reported and resolved digitally. Both however need a more refined system and are scheduled for a “makeover”..

On the other hand officials claim some success in automating the collection of Council Tax, in electoral registration (although the numbers registered to vote appears to be falling) and in dealing with benefit claims.

They are still unable to produce stats which indicate how long digital or email reports take to resolve.

No customer satisfaction surveys have been undertaken on electronic services.

Many reports like these have been produced over the years but with subsequent progress being glacial.

Safeguarding Week 2018 in York

From the 25 to the 29 June, York will be promoting Safeguarding Week 2018, organised by the  Safeguarding Adults Board and Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in collaboration with a variety of local organisations. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and share in a city wide conversation about the work of safeguarding partnerships across the region and the prevention of dangers concerning vulnerable individuals in the 21st century.

This year the Safeguarding Adults Board. and City of York Council have chosen to focus awareness on financial abuse. Over the course of the week, there  will be a variety of opportunities to learn about available support and preventative measures you can take  at events across the city and via our social media channels.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health said:
“It is so important for all of us to educate ourselves as to the risks of financial scams and the realities of financial abuse. Safeguarding Week is an opportunity to inform our residents of how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the devastating effects of this kind of abuse and to safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Financial abuse can show itself in a multitude of ways; from financial control within a relationship, to the targeting of vulnerable individuals from organised crime groups in the form of financial scams. It is important to stay informed and educated in order to notice when something doesn’t look quite right.

The month of June also marks Scam Awareness month, an annual opportunity to both raise public awareness and stand against crimes and predatory practices which impact the lives of millions across the country.

Visit citizensadvice.org.uk for more information and resources on preventing, spotting and reporting scams.  (more…)

York Council social enterprise company crashes

We warned in 2013 (click) that the Council plan, to hive off some social care services to a new company, were “highly risky”.

The plan was to start a “Be Independent” social enterprise to run warden call and disabled equipment loan services.

Most of the income for the new organisation would still come from the Council. It was claimed though that it could complete for other business thereby reducing the demands on taxpayers.

5 years later and it is clear that the company has failed. This is not entirely surprising as the draft  “business plan” (still available to view here “on line”) published in 2013 actually forecast that the operation would be loss making

A report the Council’s Executive next week suggests that the service be brought back under the Councils direct control.

The number of customers using the service has fallen from 2878 to 2448, about half of which are subsidised by the Council.

“Be Independent” have failed to win any new contracts during the last 5 years and lost an existing contract with the NHS to provide equipment services in the Vale of York.

The company is now loss making.

In the last financial year, it recorded a working deficit of £167,000.

If the work transfers back to the Council it will cost taxpayers an additional £95,000 a year.

One of the negative aspects of hiving off activities is that some jobs get a pay hike. The Council says that staff at “Be Independent” in the main enjoy the same conditions of service as Council employees. TUPE would therefore apply to any transferees.

The Council report fails to identify the salaries being paid to all staff although £273,000 pa is listed as “Directors remuneration”. (The latest accounts registered with Company House for 2017 list Directors remuneration as £106.443).

There was until last year one CYC appointed Director (Cllr Funnell) but this appointment was terminated on 31st March 2017. It is unclear who has been charged with safeguarding the Councils interests on the “Be Independent” board since then.

There is no comparison in the papers between the 2013 business plan and outturns.

External legal advice is apparently  being taken by the Council.

York parkrun backs call for more foster carers

York parkrun is getting on its marks to help City of York Council recruit 25 foster carers.

The family-orientated charity is backing the council to find more stable caring foster homes for local children and young people in care.

During Foster Care Fortnight (14-26 May 2018), on Saturday 19 May members of City of York Council’s fostering team will help steward and take part in the weekly race which runs on the Knavesmire.

The need for more carers is to replace those who have retired as well as to look after the children who come into care. These range from babies to teenagers, as well as siblings who need to stay together, and young people with additional needs.

The council is committed to keeping the children in its care in the city, where the best fostering options are and where changes for the children are kept minimal.

The rewards of fostering come with some of the region’s best training and support. And most of all, the satisfaction of helping a child look forward to a brighter future. (more…)

York residents invited to discuss the latest Talking Point in adult social care

After the successful opening of York’s first Talking Point in the Acomb area, residents are being invited to have their say on the next stage of the programme.

City of York Council is planning to open another hub to the north of the city and is asking residents to attend a community event at Oaken Grove Community centre on Tuesday 22 May between 10am and 12pm.

The second Talking Point is due be situated in Haxby and Wigginton, with the catchment area encompassing Huntington and New Earswick and Rawcliffe and Clifton Without.

York’s first Talking Point opened its doors at Lidgett Grove Methodist Church in late March with a focus on giving residents earlier access to face to face conversations with adult social care staff closer to where they live.

(more…)

Extra funding released for York’s adult social care services

Over £1.2 million of additional funding has tonight been made available to help relieve pressure on York’s adult social care services.

The Executive have agreed to maintain and release £800,000 recurring budget set aside by the Liberal Democrats in the 2018/19 budget, as well as a non-recurring sum of £457,000 in adult social care support.

To date, York has made huge improvements in reducing its delayed transfers of care, as a result of investment that has been already made. Furthermore, many services have been working closely with partners to support people in care and secure their independence to remain at home, avoiding needless admissions to hospital.

In the past year, a number of successful initiatives have made a positive impact on people’s lives  For example, the YorWellbeing falls prevention service, which has had a significant impact in reducing injuries and hospital admissions.  Tonight’s approval could see this service expanded.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care, said:

“There is no doubt; the Winter crisis has heaped an overwhelming amount of pressure on the York Teaching Hospital and our adult care services.”

“In response, the Liberal Democrats sought to make significant investment in our adult social care services via the Council’s 2018/19 budget and I am very pleased that the report discussed at Executive tonight demonstrates the positive impact of our investment in those services.”

“Tonight, we have reaffirmed our commitment to support and protect vulnerable residents, particularly in helping them live more independently.  This investment will allow us to extend our already successful schemes and allow us to continue in tackling system pressures within health and social care.”