Our workforce and how we support their professional roles
Enabling our staff to increase their health and fitness
Ensuring that our workforce is healthy and motivated is a priority for us and early in 2020 a new health and activity coaching programme called FAST 365 was launched in partnership with a local fitness organisation. The aim of the programme is to provide the workforce with knowledge and support to make transformational steps in their health and fitness over a six-week challenge period, then the whole year.
It is hoped that by taking part in the initiative, Social Care and Education staff will report a reduction in stress and musculoskeletal complaints, which account for a significant number of the days lost to sickness within the department.
The challenge since launching the programme has related to why this has not been delivered by Community Development Services and offered to the wider Council. However, from the outset the intention was not to persuade people to participate in physical activity but to introduce the concept gently that wellbeing is associated with activity or movement.
The aim is that, once active and using the activity monitoring belts (purchased by staff), participants will want to access the CCBC leisure offer and maximise the 30 minutes of paid time allocated to them for activity and movement. Despite Leisure Services being unable to deliver a comparable offer at the moment we will continue to work closely with them and anticipate that the pilot programme will prove beneficial to both the participants and local authority-run leisure centres in terms of attendance and promotion of internal services.
Since the launch of the programme numbers signing up have exceeded expectations and if deemed successful after evaluation, a discussion will be held around repeating the opportunity and making the offer open, either to a wider group of staff or to targeted individuals.
Gaining feedback on our performance
By asking colleagues from internal teams and other organisations what their experiences are of working with us we can ensure that we monitor our effectiveness and make improvements where needed. In 2019 our in-house domiciliary service gained valuable feedback from teams they work with across the county on topics such as the provision of service information, effectiveness and timeliness of communications, dealing with concerns about individuals who access domiciliary care and achieving their desired personal outcomes. Overall the responses were very positive, demonstrating excellent working relationships between the teams and effective service delivery.
100% of respondents stated that the domiciliary teams responded appropriately to concerns about individuals who access the service.
100% of respondents agreed that the team were courteous when dealing with enquiries.
The service listens to the demands of need and will seek out alternative ways of providing a better, more suited support service.
Workforce Development and Learning
As part of our workforce investment we have entered into a partnership with Community Care Inform. CC Inform is a market leading web-based resource, designed specifically for Social Care professionals working with adults, children and families. The site offers a wealth of practical guides, updates to legislations, latest research, case law and a range of videos, podcasts and other resources designed to inspire group discussions and enhance our practice.
To date, 290 staff have access to CC Inform Children and CC Inform Adults. This also includes hosted Social Work students. Our aim has been to ensure that practitioners use the resources as part of their everyday work. This will enable them to be better equipped to make swifter, more confident, evidence-based decisions.
How we use programme management to deliver change
A programme is a temporary, flexible organisation created to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities, in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organisation’s strategic objectives. A programme will be established to enable business transformation to take place, when such a change requires multiple projects to support the change or transformation. Using Project and Programme Management approaches is a major part of how Social Care undertakes changes and improvements for the benefit of Conwy’s staff and community.
Our Programme Management approach is based on the Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) methodology and is a key tool that enables us to manage transformational change which might involve complexity, risk, the management of many interdependencies and the resolution of many conflicting priorities. It provides a structured framework that can help avoid pitfalls and achieve goals. Programmes within Social Care will be aligned with one or more of our Corporate Plan 2017-22 objectives and therefore also directly informed by the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015.
We ensure that a) colleagues who work regularly in programme environments attend a certified Managing Successful Programmes course and b) programmes adhere to the seven principles of the MSP approach:
- Remaining aligned with CCBC’s corporate strategy
- Leading change
- Envisioning and communicating a better future
- Focusing on the benefits and threats to them
- Adding value
- Designing and delivering coherent capability
- Learning from experience
Our financial resources and how we plan for the future
Despite the challenges of the financial climate, we continue to protect direct service delivery. We aim to provide best value, be efficient and not duplicate. Social Care identified £2.4 million of savings for 2019-2020. However, we continue to provide the best service we can for our residents.
To mitigate the effects of financial pressures, we ensure that we access and maximise grant funding wherever possible to enable us to continue working innovatively and effectively within our services. For example, the Integrated Care Fund (ICF) is allocated by the Welsh Government across Wales. The aim of the fund is to drive and enable integrated working between Social Services, Health, Housing, the Third Sector and independent providers to develop sustainable services. The fund can support new initiatives (or projects) as well as the extension of existing services. In Conwy, ICF funding has been used to develop the Integrated Health and Social Care Support Worker (HSCSW) Service across Conwy. This is a key piece of work to enhance the Older People service across the County.
In addition, the use of grant funding has been utilised within our preventative services to divert children away from entering the care system through the intensive work of the Strengthening Families Team. There was a 94% success rate in supporting families (including foster families) who are referred to the service, due to the child(ren) being on the edge of coming into the care system.
Prevention is at the heart of what we do to manage demand. If we can provide the right support at the right time, we will prevent the escalation of need and cost.
Ensuring social value from commissioning activities
A key part of our Social Care Commissioning work is to develop Social Value in the County. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 places a duty upon local authorities (with partners) to promote the development of not-for-profit organisations to provide care and support services and preventative services. Within this “Voice and Control” is an underlying principle of the Act, and this influences the Social Value agenda in directing services towards becoming more co-productive in their development, whereby service users are empowered to influence the development and delivery of services that affect them.
A detailed self-assessment report into social value within Conwy included recommendations to develop a corporate Social Value Strategy, and to support the embedding of social value into local partnership structures. This report fed into a report to Welsh Government from the regional Social Value Forum, as required by the Act.
Co-production by its very nature is intrinsically linked with social value. If we improve co-production, more social value will follow. Within Conwy Social Care, we are moving towards a more co-productive approach to commissioning and contract monitoring of our commissioned third sector services.
Our approach to commissioning uses the Analyse, Plan, Do and Review cycle, and we’re trying to embed co-production across the cycle, where possible. It’s all about delivering wellbeing outcomes and getting value for money; we will involve service users and providers throughout the cycle to ensure that through working together we provide the right services, at the right quality in the right place at the right time with the right price. Through this process we will also quality assure the services that we commission.
Contract review meetings are an opportunity for a two-way dialogue, where we work together to do what we can to maximise the impact of their services. This involves making sure that services are listening to their people and developing in response to what they’re hearing.
A recent example concerns a service that’s been recommissioned through Families First funding, for a Family Relationships Support service. The service specification was influenced by people who had used similar services, and through school-gates consultations. At the interview stage, service users and representatives from CVSC were involved in the panel to share the decision-making about which provider was awarded the contract, and will also be involved in the contract reviews too. Genuine power-sharing and collaboration will lead to a service that is more aligned with achieving outcomes that people want, hence improving social value.
Social Value generation is not restricted to Social Care, and wider council services can and do generate social value through their various partnerships and contracts. This agenda will be taken forward corporately through a new three-year Partnership Agreement between the Council and the Third Sector.
What were the challenges?
Social Value involves understanding the value of change in people’s lives. Any service that helps to promote positive changes such as improved wellbeing, having more confidence, being healthier, living in better housing, or having better family relationships, is creating social value.
A challenge, particularly regarding preventative services, is that due to budgetary pressures, there is often a requirement to build a business case based purely on financial value. This often overrides the consideration of social value. Additionally, any potential cost savings may not be realised for quite some time, and/or in other parts of the system. For example, social based preventative services could lead to savings or reduced demand in the health service, in time.
A new three-year partnership agreement between CCBC and the third sector has been agreed for 2020-23, with six joint priorities for development. One of these priorities is to develop a Social Value Strategy. This will raise the profile of social value across Conwy and help to embed social value into the work that all partners undertake, including the sharing of good practice.
Our partnership working, political and corporate leadership, governance and accountability
The Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 outlines a set of national outcomes and places a duty on public bodies to put sustainable development at the heart of decisions. This Act ensures that the environment, social and economic considerations are central to decision making. In Conwy, we have incorporated these objectives into the Conwy Corporate Plan. The seven goals and five ways of working are aligned to Conwy’s eight Citizen Outcomes.
The Corporate Plan includes actions which are preventative, aims to work towards the longer term impact and are integrated in the consideration of how they contribute to the 7 Wellbeing Goals. The actions are also collaborative in terms of the focus on working closely with communities so they are involved in owning and working collectively to meet the Citizen Outcomes.
The Act also defines sustainable development in Wales as a mechanism for improving the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. This promotes focus on considering what we do, how we do it and how we communicate. As a service we are contributing by reflecting on how we are applying the five ways of working through our six-monthly Service Performance Review process.
The Social Services and Wellbeing Act (Wales) 2014 and Code of Practice sets out a framework for measuring the progress that local authorities make against their duties under the Act as a whole. This process also enables LAs to continuously improve services. As stated within the Code of Practice, we have robust arrangements in place to collect and return data on statutory performance measures to Welsh Government on an annual basis. Measuring performance activity is done in line with each of the quality standards which focuses on people, partnership and integration and prevention.
The local authority has robust governance arrangements in place to support the effective management of Social Care. The Council has implemented a Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Council has appointed two Portfolio Holders who represent Children and Family Social Care and Adult Social Services and Leisure. We also submit various reports to Scrutiny Committee for review and challenge. In addition, we have a robust internal process for performance oversight and challenge. Meetings are held with our inspectorate throughout the year and we routinely and actively review our own practice to ensure continuous service improvement.
Flexible Funding Programme
The Funding Flexibility Programme looks to improve the outcomes of the most vulnerable in our communities through early intervention and prevention approaches which encourage self-reflection and increase motivation. The aim is to remove the barriers that prevent people from achieving positive change by developing innovative approaches which are designed to prevent citizens from becoming more vulnerable in the future. The programme brings together ten funding streams into two grant ‘pots’ in order to strengthen our ability to deliver preventative services, focused on early intervention for those in greatest need. The first of the two focuses on Housing and the second on Children and Communities.
With this new flexibility, we have been able to change our parenting support significantly, with our Flying Start and Families First staff now working together as one Family Support team, from five different localities. Each area has a schedule of support and activities on a number of differing levels including open access, information and advice, one-to-one groups and specialist support. The model is based on the lived experiences of families in Conwy, who have told their stories about accessing support.
The Family Wellbeing tool has been shortlisted for an accolade award, and we have been invited to join the Children’s First Pioneers. Close links have been established with other services within the authority, such as the Youth Justice Service, Children’s Duty Desk (Social Care), and the Youth Service, who have restructured to replicate the locality-based model. Recommissioning has started and will continue into 2020/21.
We have been talking to young people and parents about play opportunities, which fits into our Health and Wellbeing theme. We are also looking at how our leisure centres are being used. We are currently analysing our Supporting People data, so we can plan our services going forward. Elements of our information gathering will also be used within the Homelessness, Younger People and Mental Health themes which are all are interlinked.
Following a review of our employability support we are making a number of changes to how we coordinate our support. For example, the Social Care staff delivering employability-related schemes have transferred over to Community Development Services so that employability staff sit under one service, and we are creating a strategic lead post for employability within the same service. The new Principle Officer for Employability will have oversight of all employability schemes within the authority, and will develop the Employability Strategy for Conwy, including our support for those with mental health and disability needs.
In Conwy, the funding streams encompass five services:
- Children, Families and Safeguarding;
- Community Development;
- Integrated Adult and Community Services;
- Regulatory and Housing.
As such, our governance approach brings together all lead officers, all five Heads of Service and all Strategic Directors to ensure everyone understands what is being delivered, the barriers and opportunities. We can also ensure that areas of collaboration are identified and promoted.
We have reviewed our contract monitoring arrangements and how we involve service users in developing our services. We will be sharing examples of good practice, and looking to standardise processes for contract monitoring. We will also be strengthening our resources in terms of seeking service user feedback and coproduction.
We have been seeking user feedback on play opportunities, in line with the recommissioning plans, and will be linking this into our Health and Well-being theme, as will the data about our leisure services. We are currently analysing our Housing data, in order to inform needs going forward. We will be implementing more employability changes and along with service user feedback, will be looking at how we deliver some of our provision.
Regulation and Inspection
The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care Act (Wales) 2016 (RISCA) has changed how our services are inspected, how we improve the quality of care and support that we provide and regulation of our workforce. It places service quality and inspection at the heart of regulation; strengthening protection for those who need it and ensures services deliver high quality care and support.
Since 2018, within Adults Services the commencement of registration for managers in the care home sector across Wales, under the new RISCA regulations took place. We have held a series of manager forums in preparation for the introduction of RISCA. We have also recently hosted Social Care Wales Registration workshops to support registration of the domiciliary care workforce. We have established a RISCA policy group that meets monthly in order to review policies required under the new regulations. We also host a joint Conwy Provider Training Group to promote workforce development and learning across the Sector.
Within the Looked After Children service area, Care Inspectorate Wales have published their National Overview Report in relation to care experienced children and young people, we participated in this review and we are currently looking at how we can improve how we work to improve experiences by using the key findings.
More Than Just Words: Delivering the ‘Active Offer’
An ‘Active offer’ simply means providing a service in Welsh without someone having to ask for it. In 2016 Mark Drakeford (then Minister for Health and Social Services) stated that:
“Ensuring the safety, dignity and respect of Welsh speakers is at the heart of providing health and social services in Welsh. It is not just about complying with legal requirements and maintaining professional standards; it is also about improving the quality of care and meeting the language needs of people and providing good public services that focus on individuals.”
In Conwy we play our part in ensuring that the Active Offer is embedded in our culture, ensuring quality and safety for Welsh speakers in the county. Particularly important is ensuring that individuals who receive care and support from us are able to communicate with support staff in their language of choice. To facilitate this, we hold More Than Just Words training sessions, aimed at the whole workforce, which introduce:
- The Active Offer
- The strategic framework for Welsh language services
- Experiences of service users
- How the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act sets out our responsibilities in relation to Welsh language service provision
- Implementing change
- Developing a language skills strategy
- Exchanging good practice
- Forming an action plan
During the last two years, 19 courses have taken place, with 178 members of staff attending.
95% of people responding to our Citizen Survey agreed that they were able to communicate in their language of choice.
Participation and Consultation
Over the last twelve months we have undertaken a number of participation and consultation exercises on a range of topics on behalf of both Adults and Children & Family Services. Feedback and information received from consultations and engagement helps us to shape our services.
Adult Participation Network
- Consulted with older people and Housing for the Conwy Housing Strategy.
- Worked with Public Health Wales on a Diabetic Retinopathy Leaflet.
- Accompanied Conwy citizens to attend the BCUHB consultation on Dental Services.
- Accompanied Conwy citizens to attend the ‘Ageing Well in Wales: Age Friendly Communities’ consultation Event in Y Galeri, Caernarfon (attended by the Older People’s Commissioner).
- Attended the Network to discuss Telecare Products and Services (Wellbeing Services).
- Attended the Network to consult with them on a poster for Council Tax reduction information (Revenues & Benefits).
- Attended the Network to discuss Benefits and how to contact the Welfare Rights Service (Welfare Rights).
- Worked with the Programme Coordinator for the IMAGINE Project for Colwyn Bay (How Communities can work better together).
- Attended the Shared Reading Programme from the Conwy Libraries Service to discuss the programme and how individuals can become involved.
- Consulted with service users and carers about the re-design of the Community Mental Health Service.
- Coordinated small consultation groups at Plas Isaf Residential Home and Llys Elian regarding their views of living in a 24-hour residential setting.
- Attended an ‘Ageing Well in Wales’ consultation event –‘Innovative Approaches to Public Services in Rural Communities’.
Our Participation Officer has delivered several sessions to local groups and staff on how to become ‘Dementia Friendly’. We have also promoted the Conwy Annual Survey for people who use our services, by talking to individuals to support them to complete the feedback form.
Youth Participation Work
- Reviewed our Children’s Rights Toolkit in consultation with the Conwy Youth Council.
- Completed an Online Safety Project about extremism and risks to young people.
- Supported our youth representative for Disability Wales to attend the All Wales Youth Parliament.
- Consulted with the Youth Council on the Play Sufficiency Toolkit.
- Facilitated members of the Youth Council attending the Colwyn Bay Town Council to further integrate the voice of young people in the work of the Town Council.
- Engaged with families who have accessed the Strengthening Families Team to include their views of the service within an overall report.
- Consulted with the Conwy Youth Council on the Conwy Corporate Plan.
- Consulted with children and young people about ‘What Makes a Good Foster Parent’
- Contributed to School Council meetings within the Pupil Referral Unit
- Consulted with the Rural Development Service on what matters to young people living in rural areas.
- Facilitated members of the Youth Council being regular attenders at national events – hosted by Young Wales and we have representation at the UK Youth Parliament.
- Consulted with Young Care Leavers on the Mind of My Own Communication App for Children and Young People.
- Contributed to a Pupil Governor Training Session for Conwy secondary schools with the Conwy Youth Council members.
This post is also available in: Welsh