What did the Citizen Survey tell us?
We asked people whether they can do what matters to them and there were differing results across the various cohorts. 44% of adults who completed the standard version of the questionnaire responded that they could, with 40% only some of the time. The additional comments overwhelmingly point to the impact that physical disability or limitations have on people’s ability to take part in activities, or even leave the house.
Disability restricts me in what I am able to do.
I am able to access what’s important to me with support staff’s help due to limited mobility.
Adults who completed the easy-read version of the questionnaire report a higher level of satisfaction, with 81% stating that they can do the things they like to do. No-one from this cohort stated that they can’t do the things they like to do, although additional comments suggest that they would appreciate more clubs and activities such as football, cricket, car journeys and gardening.
Carers reported a lower level of satisfaction, with only 41% agreeing that they can do the things which are important to them. This group often put the needs of the person they care for before their own and as a result, struggle to pursue their own interests. Some Carers are also battling health issues of their own, as well as those of the cared-for person.
I have lived for many years clock-watching , as your time is never your own if you are a Carer.
Caring takes most of one’s time, so no time to do your own thing.
Under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act it is recognised that Carers have an equal right to an assessment of their own needs. This is available to all Carers and provides an opportunity to have a conversation about what matters to them and to determine what information, support or services may be available to support them in their caring role.
55% of children agree that they can do the things they like to do. Barriers to them engaging in activities seem to be financial, related to social anxiety and a lack of suitable activities.
We asked people whether they feel satisfied with their social networks/people around them. 84% of adults report that they are happy with the support from family, friends and neighbours. Supporting comments confirm that family networks are important and that visits from family and friends are welcome and valued. Many people, however, feel isolated and alone, due to living long distances from their families, or not having a close relationship with them, or from not being integrated into their communities.
Family not near and don’t visit often.
My wife supports me. I never see neighbours and don’t have family nearby.
I keep in touch with my family by phone as they don;t live locally. Have made friends with the people living close to me.
90% of adults who completed the easy-read version of the questionnaire were happy with the people around them.
Only 66% of Carers agree with the statement, however. Many live long distances from their families or acknowledge that others are busy with their own lives and responsibilities.
My family are all working so are only able to visit occasionally at the weekends.
My wife and I have no family and as such have to reply on support from Social Services, for which I am grateful.
73% of children are happy with their family, friends and neighbours.
Improving communication for everyone
Focus on Sensory Impairment
The Disability Service has worked with Conwy Deaf Forum and our Corporate Improvement and Development Team (CIDT) to develop a whole-Council approach to meeting the communication needs of citizens who have a sensory impairment. A Corporate Action Plan focuses on ensuring that people who have a sensory impairment have equal access to Council Services. Through consultation, the Deaf Forum identified communication as the key to improving outcomes for the Deaf community. We have invested in training for staff and in providing access to translation via ‘Interpreterslive’ at Council receptions and via the website or app. We are now in the process of translating key information into British Sign Language videos on our website, and testing Browsealoud and Recite software to improve access to people who are visually impaired or dyslexic. Good progress has been made so far.
In addition, as a response to consultation with the deaf community via the Conwy Deaf Forum, the Disability Service has, in partnership with Care to Cooperate, supported a group of individuals to establish the Conwy Deaf Translation & Support Service (CDTSS), providing a fortnightly drop-in translation session. The purpose of CDTSS is to alleviate barriers to people who are deaf when trying to find and access information, advice and support. Individuals are able to pre-book one-to-one sessions with a translator. This group will be operating from the new council offices this year.
What were the challenges?
- We were keen to ensure that the views of stakeholders were considered equally in developing the action plan.
- We have also worked hard to raise staff confidence in communicating with people who are deaf.
We will continue to develop the action plan in partnership with CDTSS and the third sector organisations working in this area. We will consider what further actions CCBC needs to take to meet a range of equality actions identified within the new framework Action on Disability: the right to Independent Living. We will raise the confidence of staff within the Council to ‘have a go’ at communicating, utilising the resources made available rather than seeing this as something special to be dealt with by someone in Social Care.
When advocacy leads to friendship
Conwy Connect for Learning Disabilities was set up in 1997 to help promote the rights of people with learning disabilities in Conwy and across North Wales.
‘M’, a former Liveability service user, works as a disability advocate for Wales and set up a friendship group ten years ago, which is now 90 people strong. This work led to her being elected as a representative to the National Council of All Wales People First which meets in Cardiff and discusses issues affecting the everyday lives of people with disabilities.
In December 2018 ‘M’ was a winner in the Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders under the Changing Communities category. Asked about her motivation, ‘M’ stated that “my goal is that people get more confidence and go out and mix. I feel I’m making a difference here – the friendship group would not be going if not for me.”
Helping people to achieve their potential
Disabilities Under 25 Team
The Disabilities Under 25 team works with children and young people with disabilities to support them to identify:
- Their personal outcomes;
- Any barriers to achieving them;
- Any risks if they are not achieved;
- The child/young person’s strengths and capabilities.
The following case study demonstrates one of our successful interventions.
‘C’ is a 21 year old young man with a significant learning disability. He attended a local specialist school and then spent three years in a residential college, developing his independent living skills and gaining work opportunities and employability skills. The Disability Service supported ‘C’ to achieve his personal outcomes of living independently and working in the construction industry. He is now living in a flat of his own with minimal support, and has been referred to a work programme. He needed some support to move into his flat and to set up his direct debits but is now very independent and accesses his local community, going shopping, using public transport and has made new friends and is going to social activities.
Disabilities – Joint educational provision
The Disability Service and Coleg Llandrillo have established a joint post-19 education provision for young people with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) from September 2018. This is a pilot project which has been established to focus on delivering local solutions to post-19 education provision to avoid the need for young people with complex needs to access out-of-county residential college placements. There are now three young people accessing this provision.
This provision works by the college providing a tutor and the Disability Service providing the facilities and additional support staff. The service is delivered at Canolfan Marl which has been recently refurbished. The refurbishment ensured that the facility was able to meet the needs of young people with a physical disability and also included a state of the art sensory room.
This provision provides continuity for young people and their families. For example, college tutors have worked closely with teaching staff at Ysgol Gogarth to ensure effective planning for transition to post-19 education provision. The benefits include individuals being able to remain living locally, planning effectively for their future and Social Workers and other partners such as Health being able to get to know the person really well. Staff are also gaining additional skills by working alongside the college tutors.
In addition, the Disability Service has provided access to the Independent Living Skills course at Coleg Llandrillo to a flat at Canolfan Marl. This enables the course to offer individuals the opportunity to experience learning independent living skills in a real flat which is close to local amenities.
The Toddlers Who Took on Dementia
In June 2018 we were proud to be featured on a BBC documentary which charted a unique experiment run by psychologists from Bangor University. Can the company of young children help to ease the effects of dementia? Adults aged in their 70s and 80s and toddlers, all of whom receive day-care of one type or another, were brought together at Llys Elian day centre to share activities, stories and memories. The time spent together brought surprising benefits to all involved, and the experiment has now turned into a regular slot so that the two age groups can continue to learn from each other.
Clips from the show are available to view on the BBC website.
Family Support and Intervention
Family Intervention Team
The Family Intervention Team provides a service to families with care and support needs who have reached crisis point. The service primarily focuses on delivering interventions to families following an assessment and care and support plan by a Social Worker. We have a range of programmes and sessions to offer families as part of our intervention work; here are a few examples:
- Talking to Teenagers group is a six-week course for parents in conjunction with the Family Centres.
- Be Calm, Be Cool, Stay Positive is a programme which helps children regulate their emotions.
- Parenting Routines is individual work undertaken with families who are experiencing difficulties in setting boundaries and creating routines.
- Foster Care Respite which provides activities for children where there is a high risk of placement breakdown.
In the next year, we will strive to work collaboratively with the Family Centres. We will be developing resources in delivering the Caring Dads programme.
We want to improve outcomes for care leavers and help them to achieve their full potential in society through timely and fit-for-purpose support. If effective strategies are put in place this will result in fewer young people being classed as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and fewer teenage pregnancies. Improving life skills and resilience and providing an appropriate range of accommodation, including tenancy support, helps to achieve a reduction in homelessness and chaotic lifestyles. For example, independent living skills training has been provided for eight young people, and another training session is due in September. The training helps the young people to develop home management skills earlier, such as budgeting.
Supporting our care leavers to reach their potential
The St David’s fund from Welsh Government has been designed to support young people aged between 16 and 25 years who are, or have been in the care of the local authority to access opportunities which will lead them towards independent and successful lives. Areas covered include:
- Health and wellbeing
- Access to ongoing advice and support
Young people are able to apply to a panel for grant funding under any of these categories. During the first six months of the year 35 young people have benefited from the scheme.
‘B’ is 19 and has recently had a baby. She was feeling isolated and lonely in her house after having the baby as she couldn’t get out and about without the struggle of getting the bus. ‘B’s boyfriend worked long hours so she was home alone for most of the day. She had passed her driving test before the baby was born and had a car, but couldn’t afford the insurance. Her Personal Advisor suggested an application to the St David’s Fund, which was granted. ‘B’ was really happy with the outcome and feels that being able to drive has improved her well-being and given her a lot more independence, as she can visit her family and friends more regularly and can also attend medical appointments and baby classes.
What were the challenges?
This is a small grant and therefore the challenge was in equitably sharing the funding across the looked after children and care leavers to maximise the impact this additional money may make to their lives.
However, the St David’s fund now comes under the bracket of the Flexible Funding scheme, which gives us the opportunity to maximise the amount of money available between schemes, and to provide a more seamless pathway of provision for young people. The fund has therefore been boosted by the transfer of funds into St David’s, which means that more young people can benefit.
We are exploring and developing appropriate apprentice schemes for care leavers, which we will evaluate over the coming year to ensure equality for care leavers who may be disadvantaged in the competitive field of finding work. We are enhancing the collaboration with Personal Advisors through more regular meetings to discuss the young person’s transition into leaving care. We are meeting earlier in the process – at 16 years old rather than 17 years old – to ensure effective preparation and assisting the PA to develop a relationship with the young person at an earlier stage, resulting in a smoother transition to adult services.
There is now more of an emphasis on homelessness prevention and the team are exploring ways to maximise the potential of the grant funding to address issues that are either due to or arise from homelessness. We are exploring whether we can replicate an innovative programme set up by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, specifically to help care leavers to build personal resilience, develop coping mechanisms and life skills.
Developing an apprenticeship scheme for care leavers
In order for our care leavers to feel prepared to enter the workplace we have held a co-production event to engage them in traineeships and apprenticeships. Several activities were incorporated into the day, including ‘small steps, big future’ work which highlighted the importance of apprenticeships and recognising that aspirations can be achieved without the standard school ↠ university ↠ work pathway. Input from Llandrillo College also helped to break down any perceived barriers to accessing apprenticeships.
We are currently piloting a Get Ready for Employment care leaver course in partnership with Creating Enterprise (part of Cartrefi Conwy) which will provide care leavers with weekly work experience at one of their projects. As Cartrefi Conwy is a large organisation, there are varied roles available, from administration to catering and maintenance. The course will also look to support care leavers to develop coping mechanisms whilst in the work environment and will provide a whole suite of skills over an eight-week period:
1. Setting goals and being motivated and aspirational
2. Budgeting skills and understanding benefit entitlement
3. Digital awareness to make best use of technology in a safe way
4. Assertiveness and developing confidence
5. Communication and challenging situations
6. CV writing
7. Conducting job searches and completing application forms
8. Preparing for interviews
These approaches have been accessed by some of Conwy’s most complex care leavers and we hope to develop the scheme further still and involve the care leavers in shaping it. The co-production day identified some barriers to individuals’ success so we will be working hard to address these to ensure that care leavers have all the information they need to maximise their experience, and the confidence to talk with professionals and access ongoing support, both financially and in a mentoring capacity.
Conwy’s OPUS project supports citizens aged 25 and over in finding work. The team comprises of mentors, advice on welfare rights and occupational therapy, and supports people to overcome barriers to finding work, volunteering opportunities or work-related qualifications. We are proud to have supported nearly 200 people on their journey to work.
- 58% have successfully completed training
- 12% have undertaken volunteering
- 10% have entered employment over 16 hours
We have also received really positive feedback from those individuals who we have supported:
I don’t know what I would have done without the help and kindness of all the staff at OPUS.
I was struggling with depression but now I’m happier. I’ve learnt to be more open minded and positive.
B worked in retail in the same store for 25 years and was made redundant, which knocked her confidence. She wanted to re-train in Health & Social Care, but didn’t know where to start.
B enrolled onto the OPUS Project and her Adviser encouraged B to attend the STEPS programme, which she really enjoyed. It was a friendly group and it increased B’s self-confidence. B’s Adviser then helped her secure funding through OPUS to attend training and supported B to attend a work placement.
B is currently studying part-time and has a part-time job doing something she enjoys.