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.

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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.”

Additional investment in adult social care in York

Councillors will be asked to release funds of £1.25m for adult social care when they meet on 8 May 2018.

At the meeting the Executive will hear about the approach adult social care is taking with partners to support people with care and support needs, maximising their independence and capacity to remain at home, avoid hospital admission and return home as soon as possible from hospital.

As well as hearing about progress on the work we are doing to increase independence, councillors will be asked to agree to maintain current additional activity and release £800,000 recurring budget set aside in the 2018/19 budget, as well as the non recurring £457,000 adult social care support grant budget to fund further support.

In the past year the council has implemented a number of successful initiatives which have made a significant and positive impact on people’s lives.

They include the YorWellbeing falls prevention service, which has had a positive impact in reducing injuries and hospital admission. The service offers free home safety visits to all residents in Clifton and Guildhall Wards who want practical help and advice to reduce the risk of falls in their home. The release of funds would see further investment in the service expand into other areas in the city  increased capacity to support more residents.

Another example is the council’s local area coordinators in Westfield, Tang Hall and Huntington and New Earswick. The team people access community support, delaying and or preventing the need for statutory services.  Further funding will see the scheme expanded.

As well as continue this work,  a review of these initiatives has informed the following recommendations including increasing the level of reablement provision, maintain seven days a week social work to ensure capacity is available at weekends and promote and maintain the capacity and sustainability of home care.  Investment is also suggested for step down beds to increase the number available.

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Pensioners concerns over Council sheltered housing plans

Lincoln Court

Occupants of Lincoln Court had their first chance on Thursday to comment on the Council’s plans to modernise their sheltered accommodation.

In the main, the upgrade plans – which include new kitchens, bathrooms, heating and wiring, new front doors and windows, a new door entry system, roof repairs and external & internal decoration – were welcomed.

However, concern was expressed over the time that residents would be expected to live on a “building site”. This arises out of the proposal to demolish the adjacent Windsor House building and replace it with a centre for the disabled.

Proposed new layout

Residents, most of whom are in their 70’s and 80’s, felt that they could be inconvenienced for as long as three years while the work took place.

It emerged at the meeting that most of the work on Lincoln Court would not be undertaken until the adjacent new building had been completed. This led residents to point out that the noise and dust generated by any demolition process would filter into their living areas because of the inadequacies of the existing doors and windows.

Prior to the meeting the Councils plans to address parking and traffic congestion problems on Ascot Way had been criticised and these issues were raised again by residents. Residents were particularly angry that they might be expected to pay for residents parking permits because of pressure on staff parking. A plan was also needed to address parking needs during the building and modernisation phases.

Residents are also concerned that the existing bus stop – located outside Windsor House – is not shown on the new plans.

One resident went further and said

Hedges blocked view and light from Lincoln Court flats last summer

The new homes will take away our landing sitting areas, take away all light in the corridors and fill the few outside areas we have. The small, existing garden will not be freely available as we are to become, in effect, a community centre and can only access it via the community room (which is to be in use most of the time). We are also expected to cover all the running costs of the shared facilities as the fuel costs are shared by residents and no charges made to outside departments, clients etc. Even the electricity costs of all the offices and rest areas will be paid by us – we were told that it isn’t a problem at other developments & we can also use facilities! Not good enough”. 

Officials have apparently threatened to install security doors on each corridor prompting concerns that the building would resemble a “prison”.

Residents had complained last year about the Councils failure to cut a tall hedge at the rear of the properties. The hedge effectively blocked light from the flats, prompting a feeling of isolation.

The consultation event was dismissed by some as a “paper exercise” and there were calls for a fundamental rethink before planning permission was sought.

Local Councillors are now looking into the issues raised.

Carlton Tavern site still being promoted for elderly persons home use.

Interesting that the Council strategy for providing elderly persons care beds is still dependent on a 74 bed facility on the Carlton Tavern site.

The site was recently refused planning permission for an elderly persons care home by the Council’s own planning committee.

The revelation comes in a paper which considers how the  Morrell House home will be closed.

City of York care strategy report April 2018

Plan for disabled centre in Ascot Way faces £350,000 financial hurdle

A report being presented to a Council meeting next week says that the cost to taxpayers of developing a Centre of Excellence for Disabled Children and their families in Ascot Way will be more than expected.

An additional £350,000 will have to be borrowed to finance the £4.3 million project.

This is mainly the result of a lower than expected valuation of The Glen Short Breaks centre which is to be sold to help pay for the new development.

When originally suggested, the expectation was that the Glen site would be sold for £1,250,000. It is this figure that has reduced and produced the funding shortfall.

Annual repayments (principal plus interest) on the borrowing are expected to be around £195,000 a year.

The news comes a day before an open meeting to discuss the project is being held at Windsor House (see below)

York’s mental health strategy launched

York’s Health and Wellbeing Board has launched its new mental health strategy with a focus on every single resident enjoying the best possible emotional and mental health and wellbeing throughout the course of their life.

A newly formed mental health partnership will lead and co-ordinate the delivery of the strategy. The new partnership will be chaired by Tim Madgwick, who retired as Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police last year.

The strategy highlights that people with mental health conditions have a lower life expectancy and poorer physical health outcomes than those that do not.

The main focus of the strategy is to get better at spotting the early signs of mental ill health and to intervene earlier. It also looks at increasing individual and community resilience to reduce social isolation.

The other priorities are to:

  • focus on recovery and rehabilitation
  • improve services for mothers, children and young people
  • ensure that York becomes a suicide safer city
  • ensure that York is both a mental health and dementia friendly environment
  • improve services for those with learning disabilities.

The strategy expands on the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023, of which mental health is a key priority.
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Citizens Advice York:  Service extended for a further 12 months

Cllr Carol Runciman (Centre), Simon Topham of Citizens Advice York (right) and John Short, Chair of Citizens Advice York (left)

In an Executive Member Decision session held today, Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Financial Inclusion, has granted a 12-month extension to continue services run by Citizens Advice York.

Over recent months, a series of discussions have taken place between the York Liberal Democrats and Citizens Advice York to guarantee the long term sustainable future of the service.

In regular conversations with Citizens Advice York, it has been repeatedly highlighted that the service needed to recruit and train more volunteer advisors.   However, since the beginning of 2018, Citizens Advice York has reported that the training of volunteers is progressing well.  Once volunteers are trained, the service will be able to increase its capacity and once again, apply for further funding from the Financial Inclusion fund.

During the 12 month period, Citizens Advice York will conduct an internal review on the performance of their service.  The Liberal Democrats will be working closely with Citizens Advice York during this period to ensure sustainable and effective future service provision is in place.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Financial Inclusion, said:

“As the Executive Member with responsibility for financial inclusion, I am in regular contact with Citizens Advice York and together, we are both working to maintain service provision for the residents of York.”

“Money is not the only solution here and currently, Citizens Advice York is prioritising the training of volunteer advisors to improve the service.  At this moment in time, Citizens Advice York has been granted a 12 month service extension to the service; so that they can review the service after a year has passed.”

“Once more advisors are trained and Citizens Advice York are happy with their own performance, the York Liberal Democrats will support Citizens Advice to once again apply for the Financial Inclusion Fund and deliver a sustainable service for many years to come.”