People are supported to actively manage their well-being and make their own informed decisions so that they are able to achieve their full potential and live independently for as long as possible.
Completion of the Maelgwn Project
Excellent progress has been made with the Maelgwn site in Llandudno Junction. Construction of 27 properties on the old school site came to a close in early February 2021, with tenants able to move in from 22 February. There is a good mix of accommodation available to individuals with different needs, such as disabilities, care leavers and vulnerable people. The units themselves vary from one-bedroom flats, to five-bedroom fully adapted bungalows, many of which have already been allocated. Here’s a flavour:
Bron y Nant Respite Facility
This project is at an earlier stage of development, however planning has been obtained for both the disability respite facility, with a complex care day resource centre, plus Bryn Euryn Nursery. The staff and Bryn Euryn Nursery service users have relocated whilst work goes on, and the entire site was demolished by November 2020. It is expected that construction of the new facilities will take around 72 weeks, so it is likely that we’ll be updating you on the project in next year’s report.
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Local action plan
The Welsh Government has consulted on the Code of Practice on the Delivery of Autism Services under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the NHS (Wales) Act 2006. The Code will support the delivery of the Welsh Government’s autism priorities as set out in the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan published in November 2016. The Welsh Government are aiming to commence the Code from September 2021.
Conwy and Denbighshire Autism Stakeholder group, with the support of a joint project officer, have developed a draft Local Action Plan. We are awaiting the final Code of Practice and following on from this will consult with people with Autism and partners on the draft Conwy & Denbighshire local action plan.
Conwy and Denbighshire have worked with the local National Autistic Society Branch to establish an SLA to manage the delivery of funding to the third sector for the provision and development of autism services locally. Funding criteria will be aligned to the local action plan priorities.
Supporting our unpaid carers
Our multi-agency planning group for carers, COG 8 had begun working on a number of issues that had been identified through the process of undertaking a self-assessment against the standards outlined in the North Wales Regional Carers strategy.
1. Collaborating with workforce team to implement Social Care Wales Carers Toolkit resources within induction and training processes
- E-learning packages have been made available via the NHS website.
- Staff from partner agencies such as Carers Outreach have undertaken the e-learning training, and key roles within Social Care. Access to the e-learning training will be set up for all Conwy staff across the Council.
2. Develop proposals to create a more flexible range of short-breaks/respite options
- A COG 8 sub-group examined this issue, which included looking at examples of good practice across the region.
- A Flintshire scheme operated by NEWCIS called “Bridging the Gap” was thought to provide great potential for providing more flexibility for short breaks, albeit mostly focused on carers who are earlier on in their caring journey.
- Carers Outreach were awarded some funding to run a pilot scheme along similar lines, for carers of people living with dementia. The project had been operating for only a short time before Covid-19 restrictions affected delivery.
- Crossroads also received some funding to trial a new project “Efo Ni” which would provide an effective early support using volunteers to help people access local community activities or support them to continue with their own interests and hobbies, combatting isolation. Again, Covid-19 had a significant impact on this pilot project.
The ongoing development of approaches to sustainable and flexible respite care will continue when Covid-19 restrictions allow.
3. Address high proportion of Carers who decline the offer of assessment
A detailed analysis was undertaken of the various reasons that people refuse the offer of an assessment. Over 400 responses were analysed and grouped into themes. Overwhelmingly, the top response (160 carers) was “not required at the present time”, followed by an almost equal number of various responses which indicated that the carer was managing their situation and/or already getting the level of support they needed, or had already had an assessment recently.
Reassuringly, this suggested that the vast majority of people who decline an assessment are not being disadvantaged by doing so, and carers are always encouraged to communicate their needs should their circumstances change.
Providing services to carers during a pandemic
Our commissioned services have risen to the challenge and creatively adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic in ways which protect staff, carers and the people they care for. Where community visits have stopped, services continue to be offered over Skype, FaceTime and telephone calls, and previously closed cases have been re-opened to check whether people require support during this difficult time.
The impact of lockdown on carers has been detrimental; as lockdown progresses we are seeing an urgent need for carers’ assessments to be reviewed. More so, Carers are limited in the respite care they can receive, if any at all which is causing carer burn-out and stress. There has also been an increase in safeguarding concerns and we believe this is because people living with dementia are deteriorating quicker as a result of the loss of social interaction and activities they participated in pre-lockdown. Carers are having to provide more complex support with fewer resources.
Where carers are facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, various avenues have been explored to provide food parcels, and more individualised offerings, such as dark den for an autistic child, a CD player and mindfulness CDs for a lady with mental health problems, a bus pass to enable a young carer to travel to care for her sick father, and laptops and tablets to allow families to access school work.
In doing this work we have come to realise how many people are being affected financially by Covid-19 and how little support there is for both children with complex disabilities who are not accessing school and also those suffering with mental ill-health. The referrals coming in for these groups in particular lead to conversations with the organisations who are referring, which in turn highlight a need for much more support to these marginalised groups.
We may look for further funding to offer support to these groups as an ongoing concern.
Credu has reported a huge impact on their work with young carers, in particular having to cancel trips out and group work. The team have been working hard to find ways to support young carers and their families despite the restrictions. They communicate differently, using WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Zoom, and have been busy assisting with foodbank vouchers, collecting shopping and prescriptions and creating craft kits.
Assessments and one to one sessions are now back on track; we have been utilising casual staff to contact families who engage regularly with us, and with whom we already have a connection, allowing our outreach workers more time to work with vulnerable families.
Connected Persons Team: Assembling the team and establishing dedicated support for Special Guardians
We have now successfully recruited to all the posts within the Connected Persons Team, and have been operating as a full team since May 2020. This enables us to provide efficient responses to assess, supervise and support our Connected Person Foster Carers and Special Guardians. The appointment of the Connected Persons Coordinator in particular, has been key to establishing clear links with our Conwy Family Centres, as well as promoting the dedicated Coordinator support available to Special Guardians. The Conwy Family Centres have been working to ensure that quick and responsive support packages are offered to any Special Guardians requiring additional guidance or intervention.
Assessing and Supervising Social Workers are also now working with the Connected Person’s Coordinator to ensure a detailed handover of cases once the Special Guardianship order has been granted to enable a smoother transition for the family. The Team have also been working closely with the childcare teams to ensure robust Special Guardian Support Plans which can be met and are achievable for the family.
Some other areas the team have concentrated on this year are:
- Building the Active Offer for Special Guardians
- Newsletters (twice a year)
- Communicating with Special Guardians using their preferred method
- Signposting to training opportunities
- Completing financial assessments annually
- Linking in with other Local Authorities to ensure a smooth handover of cases
- Frequent reviews now built into the Special Guardians Support Plan
What were the challenges?
Unfortunately, there have been a number of Special Guardians who have not maintained regular communication with the Local Authority as had been agreed. It has taken time to re-establish contact, but we now have effective communication plans in place for all Special Guardians.
Covid-19 has presented us with a unique set of challenges. The number of face to face visits reduced, however we were able to establish ways of achieving virtual contacts.
- We will complete the development of our Special Guardianship Policy and make it available
- We will be reviewing the current financial assessment process
- We are looking to improve and increase training opportunities for Special Guardians
- We are developing Connected Persons training for children’s services
Our commitment to the reunification of families
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic Conwy has remained proactive in ensuring that the reunification of children with their birth parents continues in a timely way. We have seen a number of young people successfully returned to the care of their parents.
Our in-house Clinical Lead Psychologist and Assistant Psychologist have been available for consultations and support for any parent, child or young. Social workers have worked in partnership with our Psychologists around reunification.
Services such as the Family Intervention Team and Strengthening Families Team have continued to work with families to support reunification.
Improved links with, and referrals to the Family Centres have been effective in ensuring families that have been reunified remain supported by Conwy.
What were the challenges?
Covid-19 lockdowns have made family time with the biological families challenging. However, we have implemented virtual methods to facilitate family time. We are aware that this does not compare with face to face contact, so when safe to do so we will continue to encourage the re-establishment of face-to-face family time.
- Improving opportunities for increased family time
- Continue to develop support services for families, so that the time young people spend in Local Authority care is reduced, and where safe and possible they are returned to their biological families
- We are currently finalising a Reunification Policy which will support the developments outlined above