Direct Payments Service
Direct Payments are cash payments paid to individuals so that they can organise their support to meet their assessed social care needs. This gives them flexibility, choice and control over how their care is delivered.
A mini restructuring of the Direct Payment section is be concluded during 2023-2024. The responsibility of the new section will be to raise the profile of Direct Payments with all eligible citizens known to Social Care who wish to take control over how their support is provided. This will be done by development of web pages, social media, community talks and ensuring that front line staff are skilled and confident to discuss the benefits of Direct Payments with citizens.
The team will provide a support, information and advice service to those interested in learning more about the scheme, scheme recipients, department staff and Health colleagues involved in the process. They will keep abreast of the changing national political agenda, ensuring that all changes are incorporated into scheme developments.
As mentioned earlier in this report, work has been ongoing around the introduction of the enhanced Responsible Individual (RI) role. The associated project will continue into 2023-24, gathering information from Local Authorities across Wales on different models and best practice for delivering the Responsible Individual duties. The information gathered will form part of an option appraisal, to be undertaken with a number of stakeholders, to assess a list of models to determine the preferred option. With greater focus on developing our in-house care provision, the introduction of the enhanced RI role is a very important development in promoting, monitoring and improving service quality.
Transforming residential placements for children and young people
Support (through our Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet) has been given to establish a new programme of work to transform the way we deliver residential placements for children and young people.
Care homes and placements for children and young people ensure that their needs are met when they cannot live with their own family. Children and young people may be resident in a care home for short periods, including respite care or short breaks, or in the longer term, with a view to moving on to adulthood and more independent living. They are a place for children and young people to be supported to develop and grow.
We aim to increase the number of local placements to enable children and young people that are currently out of county to return to the area, or closer to home, enabling them to retain their local roots, schools, culture, friends and known support networks. This will also increase the opportunity for staff to support children and young people locally, enabling better relationships with children and young people to be developed.
The transformation programme is supporting the delivery of our ’Placement Commissioning Strategy 2022-2027’, which has the aspirational aim to “provide sufficient placements to meet the individual and diverse needs of children looked after”.
We have already started on this journey through local developments that are currently in progress, such as a new sub-regional Assessment Centre Bwthyn Y Ddol, (a joint venture between Conwy and Denbighshire Councils and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board), which creates new short-term planned and respite placements, and Sylva Gardens residential home, creating new flats and a support service for three children with complex care needs. Proposals have also recently been supported to redevelop our existing in-house residential provision, Glan Yr Afon, to increase capacity to provide accommodation for up to four individuals. This will involve the demolition of the existing building and construction of a purpose-designed facility.
There are a variety of factors influencing the pressure and challenges faced by our services, which are not unique to Conwy, but being observed nationally:
- Increase in demand for placements
- Growth and complexity of care needs
- Lack of in-house foster placements and local residential placements
- Increased costs per child per week in the independent care sector
- Departmental savings target
- Pressures in Betsi Cadwaladr University health Board and other partners, also exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic
To support the service with this significant programme of work, we are appointing a dedicated Transformation Programme Lead (supported through Welsh Government funding). The aim is to have one co-ordinated programme to progress existing developments and consider new and different models for providing local residential placements. The engagement of a range of stakeholders such as other local authorities and public sector organisations, not-for-profit organisations, independent providers, and young people that are looked after will be a key feature to develop options to meet these challenges.
Youth Justice: child first and trauma-informed approach
You’ll have read about the work we’ve undertaken so far in this area earlier in this report. In the next few months we’ll be reviewing the staffing structure within the Youth Justice Service to create specialised roles to develop and progress aspects of this work further. We also plan to source a building within the authority to create a Community Hub where children and young people can:
- Pop in to gain independent living skills through ‘cook and eat’ projects
- Attend appointments with the Youth Justice Service and partner agencies
- Attend specialised intervention on an individual or group basis
- Have a safe and warm place to congregate