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
Community groups and sessions
Our Staying Well Team organises and promotes community-based activities throughout Conwy County for older people to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Individuals are encouraged to connect with their communities and learn new skills. This year we identified the need for several new activity sessions, and these are now set up and running self-sustainably:
- Singing for fun sessions in Llanrwst, in partnership with Cartrefi Conwy County Borough Council
- Seated exercise sessions in Rhos on Sea, with local provider Matt Freeman
- Nature sessions and walks in Colwyn Bay, in partnership with Coed Lleol
- Art afternoons in Llandudno, in partnership with Mostyn Art Gallery
One of our main aims this year was to promote our existing provision, so we relaunched our community timetables, and will continue to update them every quarter. Between April and December 2022 we delivered 74 different sessions which were attended by 682 people. We have offered a range of social events, educational walks, arts and craft sessions, carer, intergenerational and dementia-specific sessions, to name but a few.
We ask for feedback from people who attend our sessions, and for those delivered between April and December, we found that:
- 55% said they were more active as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 97% said they had connected with others as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 75% said they were more likely to give their time to others as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 93% said they had learnt something new as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 85% said they had taken more notice of themselves, and others around them, as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 75% reported an improvement in their overall wellbeing as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 53% reported an improvement in their state of health as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 32% said they felt less lonely as a result of attending one of our programmes
- 81% said they had achieved what truly matters to them after attending one of our programmes
- 98% said they would recommend our service to others
What were the challenges?
We have experienced staff shortages whilst awaiting the outcome of funding bids to recruit to vacant posts. Our team’s capacity was reduced by 59% for over six months which impacted hugely on our ability to deliver our aims and objectives and hindered our ability to make long-term plans.
We now have three full-time Wellbeing Officers in post who have been allocated their new focus areas of Kinmel Bay and Towyn, Rhos on Sea, and Dwygyfylchi and Penmaenmawr. Work has already started in these areas and we’re currently focused on delivering some informal consultation sessions, such as wellbeing mornings, awareness stands and walks. These sessions will enable us to promote existing provision whilst engaging with older people living in these areas to help identify if there are any gaps in provision. We hope to then support the set-up of new, sustainable activities to support the health and wellbeing of older adults living in these areas.
Basic income pilot for care leavers
In July 2022 Welsh Government launched the ‘Basic Income Pilot’. This is a scheme for care-experienced young people that turn 18 years old in a specific time period. The Basic Income pilot provides £1600 each month for a two year period. This is taxed at the source and is in lieu of benefits.
In Conwy we will have nine young people eligible for the scheme. Currently, there have been four young people eligible to sign up with three accepting the opportunity. One young person has been able to focus on starting a business, which has been positive.
What were the challenges?
There was a short launch period for the pilot which impacted on our ability to take a planned approach to implementing the pilot.
Due to the uncertainty with the economic crisis there is no guarantee that this will continue beyond this initial pilot period.
Young people will be encouraged to partake in research to consider the effectiveness of the Basic Income Pilot.
St. David’s Day Fund
The St David’s Day fund is a relatively small amount of funding totalling £33,205 annually with the aim of supporting children who are looked after, and care leavers from the age of 16 to 25 years.
The purpose of the grant is to provide additional support towards independent living, focusing on areas such as:
- Help with employment; for example, DBS checks, travel, licences.
- Training and education; for example, laptops and text books.
- Accommodation needs such as household goods, and support towards deposits and removals.
- General health and wellbeing like clothes and healthy living.
As well as supporting individual applications, the St David’s Day funding has been utilised to develop a website specifically for Care Leavers in Conwy entitled Small Steps Big Future. To date, we have received 53 applications via the website to the St David’s Day fund.
What were the challenges?
The key and ongoing challenge in managing the grant is ensuring that we are as equitable as possible and the funding is utilised to maximum benefit for each individual. We have a weekly panel, which includes a young person, so that there is a quick turnaround of decisions and each request is reviewed on merit and in context of previous applications. We were very pleased to receive high assurance at the latest audit inspection.
We will continue to manage the grant fund as efficiently and effectively as possible whilst also providing a range of opportunities for care leavers. We have made connections with Can Cook, a charity dedicated to supporting people to eat well and going forward will be offering a slow cooker course for care leavers so they can learn how to eat healthily and cost-effectively.
Increasing capacity at our children’s ‘front door’
To increase our ability to process cases within our Assessment and Support Team, we have developed a new Assessor and Support Worker role to assess, plan, review and deliver care and support plans. This provided an opportunity for candidates without Social Worker qualifications to develop their skills, and essentially replaced Social Worker vacancies that we were unable to recruit to. Now four months into the pilot, we can see that this arrangement is working well. The post-holders are effectively moving cases on from our children’s front door team to either universal support, or longer-term care and support from our social work teams. The skills that these candidates brought with them from previous Family Intervention roles have proved invaluable, and their input has freed up Qualified Social Workers to concentrate on higher end care and support and safeguarding work.
What were the challenges?
Most challenges were of a human resources nature, including a change in culture and management style, the amount of work involved in creating brand new posts, and extracting and sharing out the work, suitable to their grade, from the remainder of the team. Recruiting to our permanent roles is a continued challenge and this is partly behind our decision to try something new with skills we already have in our workforce.
This shift has been taking place at a time when the county took on a significant number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children, who require input from Qualified Social Workers. So the Assessor and Support Workers were not able to provide the expertise needed to process these particular cases.
We plan to make the Assessor and Support Worker role permanent and consolidate it into a wider social care practitioner role. We need to consider whether they permanently replace Qualified Social Workers, so we’ll continue to monitor the demands on the team as a whole to make that decision.
Providing appropriate accommodation for children and young people with disabilities
We are committed to enabling children and young people who are looked after by the Local Authority to remain living in Conwy in appropriate accommodation with the right support. The Disability Service vision is that provision of accommodation and care should be seamless across the transition to adulthood. As a result we have worked with First Choice Housing to source a property that is flexible and will allow us to provide on-going accommodation post 18 years through de-registration and the creation of supported living services as each young person becomes an adult.
First Choice Housing Association have sourced and completed acquisition on a property in Llandudno for three children with disabilities currently living in out of county residential placements. Welsh Government have awarded Housing with Care funding to the value of £741,048 for acquisition and construction costs, plus FCH private finance of £399,027.
Architect plans have been drawn up, maximising the space of the property to house three separate apartments, a staffing area and suitable outside space to cater for sensory play. Consultation has taken place with the Planning Department and final plans have been submitted for approval.
A ‘Planning My Home’ document has now been completed what on what the apartments need to look like, bespoke to each child living there, and queries finalised for the architect to put the specification out to tender for a contractor to complete the works. Project documentation is well underway, and the project board and groups have been identified.
Care Inspectorate Wales have confirmed that the property will need to be registered as a children’s residential home and as each child turns 18, each apartment can be de-registered and re-registered as a domiciliary care setting, allowing the child or young adult to have a tenancy on their apartment.
All families have been consulted with and all are in agreement with their children returning to Conwy. Current residential providers have also been consulted with; they are supportive of the moves and will take part in identifying and implementing transition plans. Education are engaged in terms of the provision of school places for all three children on their return to the County.
What were the challenges?
- Getting the project started, as no dedicated Project Manager was in place to lead on this. The Project Manager later identified is managing this in addition to their current job role.
- Architects have had to be creative to maximise the space of the property to accommodate all of the needs required for the children, but equally some compromises have had to be reached between the Wish List versus the Must-Have List.
- Timescales are tight on completing some of the work streams to ensure the home becomes operational by January 2024.
We have identified the following areas to prioritise:
- Completing an option appraisal to decide whether the support provider should be internal or external
- Waiting for the Planning Department to approve plans for construction works
- Awarding construction works to a contractor following tender process
- Identifying transition plans for each child
- Consulting with all key stakeholders that are not part of the Project Board or project groups
We aim for the accommodation to be operational from January 2024, and will provide an update in our next report.