The last year has seen huge progress in the establishment of our new Family Support model. The five community-based Family Support Teams are fully established in their local communities, and are delivering support on:
- Open access groups
- Targeted groups (for example, parenting courses, themed workshops)
- Information and advice
- Support from volunteers and peer support
- One to one support
- Support from Family Workers, based on what matters to the family
- Accessing specialist support for families (for example, we have services such as Welfare Rights, Domestic Abuse and Family Counselling based with the each of the Family Support Teams every week)
- Multi-agency working based around the individual families’ needs
We have been able to reach even more families in need of additional support through our Flying Start outreach services.
Family Wellbeing Profile
We are using a new tool which we co-produced with families to hold conversations about what matters to them. This “Family Wellbeing Profile” tool has been shortlisted for a Social Care Accolade and has received positive feedback from families and the workforce as a framework for a ‘What Matters’ conversation, covering all areas of family life. The tool provides the opportunity to measure outcomes, and for families to take ownership of their own action plan.
We have developed Quality Standards for the service, in partnership with the families that we work with and the staff who work with them (see right).
As part of this, we have been interviewing families to get an insight into their story, and what difference the support has made to them.
We use the ‘Social Return on Investment tool’ to provide an indication of money saved by preventing families from further crisis and complexity. The sum calculated from April to December 2019 is in excess of £1 million.
Communication and Partnership Working
We are working with a whole host of partners to deliver services effectively. We have set up a system for automatic referral of families who do not progress to managed care services who instead are referred to the Family Support Teams. We have been working with North Wales Police to introduce ourselves as an alternative pathway for support for families through ‘early help referrals’.
The main challenge for us as a service is the success of reaching people who are in need of support; the volume of families benefitting from our Family Support Teams is greater than expected. We are being smart in the way that we use our resources, and are maximising opportunities to work in partnership and with the local community to meet this demand. It has also been a challenge to make sure that our early support and prevention work remains the priority, when many of the families have complex needs and circumstances.
We will continue to deliver the services that we have established, and to be led by local community needs. We are continuing on our journey of finding appropriate sites to establish Family Centres or support based in the local communities.
Once our teams transferred to the new offices at Coed Pella in Colwyn Bay, we were able to offer an improved environment for families during ‘contact’ time. The central location is easily accessed by public transport and has helped many families travel for contact sessions with ease. Each of the five rooms are purpose-built, with fully-equipped kitchens, en-suite toilet facilities with baby changing areas and toy storage, and we act on feedback from families for improvements where possible. During the design stage thought was also given to the sensitive nature of the families’ situations and the potentially challenging handovers between family members and foster carers, so the contact suite has two distinct entrances and a designated safe parking area for drop-off and collection. CCTV monitoring equipment in each room allows contact workers to observe and record family time without being obtrusive, and the staff observation room gives more opportunity to reflect and improve the service we provide.
With the nature of supervised contact changing and being viewed as an opportunity to deliver and test parenting skills sessions, the decision was made to upskill the workforce to reflect the new responsibilities and more complex service. The team are all now ACE-informed and as such they all understand some of the adverse childhood experiences the parents themselves may have gone through, their approach to families has softened and they are truly committed to working collaboratively with parents to achieve the best outcomes for the children. This year the Contact Workers have also worked with Health Visitors and the Family Intervention Workers to deliver bespoke parenting packages to families in need. In one scenario this year this also involved the inclusion of an interpreter to ensure that Dad was also able to contribute to parenting of his new-born baby. Work has also been undertaken with the Legal team to improve case note quality and ensure that they are robust and acceptable as evidence in a court arena. There has, as a result, been a notable improvement, with one local judge congratulating us on the quality of the contact case records.
Sexuality and Relationships
As sexual health and relationship training for people with learning disabilities has been a focus this year, funding was utilised for courses delivered by the Jiwsi project, which were well received by attendees. As a result, we have commissioned further training from the same project, who work with young people who live in North Wales and are identified as being vulnerable and at increased risk of sexual health problems now or in the future.
Alongside this, we have a Relationship Policy which provides guidance for people with disabilities, their Carers and anyone who works with them to aid understanding of how services should work with individuals around sexuality and relationships. It is our belief that people who use adult services have the same personal and sexual needs and rights as other people and that our staff should support those accessing our services to explore and understand their sexuality. The Policy demonstrates our commitment to encouraging individuals to express their personal choices and preferences in respect of personal relationships and sexuality.
The Regional Learning Disability Transformation Programme has prioritised sexuality and relationships, and has allocated funding to support this work further, including training and support from the third sector to develop a friendship and dating agency.
51% of people told us that they feel part of their community.
I have felt very lonely at times.
My dementia cuts me off from most people.
Having respite care helps me to take part in community activity twice a week
Supporting Conwy’s Carers
Conwy has signed up to the North Wales Regional Carers Strategy, which was created with the involvement of Carers and statutory and third sector professionals from across the region. The strategy outlines a vision of a consistent “offer” for Carers across the six North Wales counties, so that regardless of where Carers live, there should be access to services to support them in their caring role and to support their well-being.
To measure progress against the regional strategy, Conwy has completed a self-assessment that showed that on the whole, Conwy has an effective mix of support for Carers, comprising the in-house Carers’ support team and a range of commissioned third sector providers, including distinct support for Young Carers and for those caring for someone with mental health issues.
To support the regular Carers offer within Conwy, ICF funding has been used to provide additional provision to support Carer resilience and well-being. A programme of mindfulness courses were piloted in early 2019 for carers of people living with dementia. Following very positive feedback, the course was recommissioned for late 2019/20 for all Carers.
ICF dementia funding has also been approved to establish a team of dementia support workers, and dementia support workers linked to the Community Resource Teams in each of the five locality areas. These teams have been recruited and will have a significant impact in supporting people living with dementia and their Carers. Finally, we have secured an opportunity to provide some new pilot schemes to offer flexible, personalised short breaks.
80% of Carers agreed that they have been involved in all decisions about how the care and support was provided to the person they care for.
Good dialogue established with key professionals and support organisations.
What were the challenges?
A key part of supporting Carers lies with our ability to recognise and identify Carers, and an ongoing challenge in this area is that a significant proportion do not self-identify as a Carer, but see themselves as merely fulfilling their duty as a partner. People are also commonly wary of the terminology, and to many the idea of an “assessment” brings with it assumptions that the quality of care they provide will be judged, with the possibility of negative consequences.
The self-assessment against the regional strategy identified areas for improvement, and a multi-agency planning group for Carers’ services are now taking forward actions around:
- Collaborating with the workforce team to progress the implementation of the Social Care Wales Carers Toolkit resources within induction and training processes.
- Exploring ways to address the high proportion of Carers who decline the offer of an assessment. The number of people who decline the offer of an assessment consistently outnumbers the actual number of completed assessments, each quarter.
- Developing proposals to create a more flexible range of short breaks/respite care options.
Regionally, we are developing a shared outcomes framework which will monitor the key aspects of supporting Carers that we know are important to get right. This will promote further collaboration and innovation across the sector, with agencies working together with Carers to help co-produce the services that are helping to support Carers’ wellbeing and maintain their caring role.
62% of Carers agreed that they feel supported to continue in their caring role.
I am quite happy to continue in my caring role knowing there is back-up should I need it.
Most of the time I feel very alone in my caring role, even though I have help.
Supporting our foster carers
The Looked After Children section has been involved in consultation with an external consultant systemic and family psychotherapist to focus on developing clear strategies to meet the needs of our looked after children. We are developing our assessing skills to clearly identify children’s behavioural needs and to match them with a carer who can be supported to develop their parenting skills to meet the child’s needs more effectively.
The assessing and supervising social workers have been involved in training workshops so that they continue to develop their skills in identifying strategies for the foster carers who they work with to best support the foster placement. The aim is to reduce the likelihood of placement breakdown.
We have focused on the following:
- Are children’s needs clearly identified, with the understanding of those needs updated over time?
- Are clear strategies developed for meeting those needs?
- Are carers and staff members appropriately trained and supported to deliver those strategies?
- Is the effectiveness of strategies reviewed over time and modified as appropriate?
What were the challenges?
Creating capacity in our working week to concentrate on development within the service has been a challenge, as well as increasing the number of training days and having the relevant professionals in attendance.
We have a training plan scheduled for the next twelve months which will enhance the support provided to foster carers, the children and young people, and the placements themselves. We will be reviewing our assessment of behavioural needs and parenting strategies.
Watch our video to hear Matilda talk about her experience of being in a foster family. She won The Fostering Network award for National Outstanding Contribution by Sons and Daughters.
If you are interested in fostering, contact us on 01492 576350 or at firstname.lastname@example.org