Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Report

City of York Council has apologised after being found at fault by the local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) for not providing appropriate supervision for the parents of a child in its care in hospital and for not responding to their complaint quickly enough.

The council has already fully accepted all the recommendations made by the Ombudsman.

Maxine Squire, Interim Corporate Director for Children, Education and Communities, City of York Council, said: “We are extremely sorry for the distress caused and have apologised unreservedly to the family.

“We fully accept the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. We have already taken action to ensure that lessons are learnt from this case and that our procedures are improved.”

The council will make a formal response to the Ombudsman on actions that have been taken after considering a report from the LGSCO at a meeting on 29 November.

The council has already carried out the following recommendations from the Ombudsman:

  • An apology has been made to the complainants for the failure to review supervision arrangements for their child and for the delays in dealing with their complaint.
  • The complainants have been paid £2000 for the distress caused.
  • The council has reviewed its policies to ensure that supervision arrangements can be made available for relatives visiting looked after children in hospital.
  • The council has contacted the out-of-area hospital and council involved in the case to develop closer working relationships for when looked after children receive treatment outside York.

The authority is currently reviewing the training needs of council officers at all levels in relation to the statutory complaints process and the handling of statutory children’s complaints to ensure that they are being dealt with in line with statutory timescales, as per the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

Copies of the Ombudsman’s report are available from West Offices, Station Rise, YO1 6GA for three weeks from 9 November until 30 November 2018 or from www.lgo.org.uk

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.

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 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.”

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.

(more…)

Adopting an ethical care charter in York

Councillors will be asked to adopt the ‘ethical care charter’ for home care workers across the city when they meet next week.

On Thursday 15 March, the council’s Executive will discuss the option to adopt the charter which seeks to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care.

The charter was developed and published by UNISON after they conducted a national survey of homecare workers in 2012 and has three stages. In July 2017 a motion was approved at full council asking officers to look at the implications and take a report to Executive.

At the meeting councillors will be asked to agree to adopt stages one and two of the charter which will include:

  • The time allocated to visits will match the needs of clients
  • Visits being scheduled so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients
  • Clients being allocated the same homecare workers wherever possible
  • Zero hours contracts not being used as the only option. Providers offering a range of contract options to staff to ensure flexible employment options for care workers.
  • Homecare workers being regularly trained and given the chance to regularly share best practice with co-workers and limit their isolation.

Councillors will also be asked to agree for further work to be undertaken to assess the financial implications of adopting stage three which is for all staff to be paid at Foundation living wage and providers adopting occupational sickness pay schemes, with a report to be taken back at a later date.

Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for adult social care and health said: “We recognise the vital job that homecare workers across the city to support our residents. These changes look to help them and support the recruitment and retention of care staff.

“We’ve been working with providers closely on these plans. We know in York that our residents receive a standard of homecare that is well above the national average, these proposals look to promote high quality care services and further increase the standard of care in York.”

York praised for improvements in adult social care outcomes

Data released by NHS England has shown significant improvements in the performance rating of adult social care outcomes in York in the past year.

York is now ranked as 42nd of the 152 local authorities in England, a rise of 81 places from last year when the city was ranked 123rd, with York the most improved nationally.

York was considered a top performer in areas including:

  • Social care quality of life
  • People getting self-directed support
  • Carer-reported quality of life
  • Social care users having as much contact as they would like
  • Carers having as much contact as they would like
  • Carers reporting that they involved in discussions about those cared-for
  • Carers finding it easy to find information and advice
  • Social care users feeling safe and secure as a result of services provided

The Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework report also suggested areas for further improvements including direct payments and people being offered reablement services after leaving hospital.

Councillor Carol Runciman, executive member for health and adult social care said: “It is pleasing that these figures have acknowledged the considerable work done over the past year to improve adult social care outcomes for our residents.

“Whilst these figures are positive we still recognise there is more to be done, but the news shows that we are heading in the right direction.

“Thanks to all our incredible staff and support from partners, who have worked hard to make this progress possible.”