A WATCHDOG has said Newport council has taken bold and innovative decisions over children’s social services but says performance in the department is mixed.
The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales said the authority provides reasonable care and support for adults, but says senior managers are questioning the value of some legacy arrangements like the Gwent Frailty programme.
Newport council cabinet welcomed the report.
The CSSIW’s annual review and evaluation of Newport council for 2012/13 says the council has taken “bold and innovative decisions in relation to children’s service in recent years” – particularly in the authority’s work with the charity Barnardo’s.
But the report said performance in children’s services in mixed – while some performance indicators are positive, others suggest significant risk.
These include high staff turnover, fewer initial assessments being taken, a high and increasing re-referral rate, low numbers of children seen alone as part of initial assessments and the delays in convening core group meetings.
It says the high turnover in children’s services staff is resulting in a loss of experienced staff and managers.
On adults services, the report says the council provides “reasonable care and support” but says “senior managers are now questioning the value” of some so-called legacy arrangements.
These include its commitment to the Gwent Frailty Programme – a multi-million pound project that aims to shift the emphasis on treatment and care of vulnerable elderly patients from hospital to home – which is proving to be expensive.
The report says there has been progress on issues identified last year and identifies areas for follow up, including delays in hospital discharges.
A Newport council report said the review and evaluation “endorses the service direction and our efforts to protect the most vulnerable people, both children and adults in the city.”
Councillor Paul Cockeram, Labour cabinet member for social care and wellbeing, wrote in a council report that he was pleased strengths had been identified.
“In the areas where they have asked for improvement, it is also pleasing to note that we have made some significant progress in areas such as disabled facilities grants and delayed transfer of care,” he said. He told the cabinet meeting that the council had lost lots of experienced people after it took £5 million out of the social services budget.
Bob Bright, council leader, said at the meeting one of the first actions of his administration was to put £7 million into the budget.