Independent review of Norfolk’s post-Care Act adult social services completed
15 July 2016
An external review commissioned by Norfolk County Council (NCC) to assess its progress in meeting the standards set out in the 2014 Care Act has reported back.
The Care Act 2014 is the most significant change in adult social care law in the last 60 years. It involves important changes in councils’ duties, ranging from the application of the new national threshold to determine eligibility of needs and different criteria to determine rights to an assessment for adults and carers.
The County Council asked the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), an improvement support agency and independent charity, to carry out the review earlier this year. SCIE held focus groups and one-to-one conversations with people who are supported by adult social services, carers, representatives from Norfolk care providers and social care staff among others about their experiences of the support on offer through adult social services. SCIE also reviewed 30 social care cases and went through relevant County Council documentation to reach their findings.
In the executive summary of their report, SCIE highlights the County Council’s “genuine intention to improve outcomes for local people” and comments that the council “has worked hard to provide staff with the necessary tools to do their job during difficult times being experienced here as elsewhere”. The report authors go on to write:
“The opportunity now is to build on areas of undoubted good professional practice in NCC alongside focusing on some challenging improvement areas, harnessing staff strengths and commitment, and ensuring Care Act principles and duties are core to all the Council’s processes, systems and working styles.”
SCIE makes a number of recommendations for how adult social services work in Norfolk could be strengthened, including:
- Changing some of the terminology the department uses so that it reflects the changes brought about by the Care Act and to minimise confusion about the council’s role and responsibilities.
- Improving information sharing with staff and partner organisations to ensure overall quality and consistency of practice across the county, for example where local initiatives and pilots have improved outcomes for people in communities.
- Reviewing the way the council communicates and engages with those people who have a vested interest in adult social care in Norfolk, including people receiving care and support, carers and community organisations. SCIE felt this could also enable a better understanding of the constraints within which the council is operating, and how to make the best use of the available resources, which all parties know are very tight.
- Carrying out an audit of how social work staff’s time is spent to determine whether they have enough time to deal with each case they are allocated appropriately, and taking into account the implementation of the council’s new Promoting Independence strategy and the Care Act duties and principles.
Harold Bodmer, Executive Director of Adult Social Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “The Care Act provides a clear legal basis for significant change in ways of working in adult social care and is widely welcomed across the whole care sector. Like all local authorities, Norfolk is working hard to introduce and embed these changes in our practice.
“This independent review by SCIE reviews our progress and practice to date and gives us very helpful suggestions about how we might strengthen this. We will be presenting their report, along with an action plan setting out we have already done and plans to our next Adult Social Services Committee in September. I’m grateful to the Social Care Institute for Excellence and everyone who took part in the review. I think we should be encouraged by the findings of the review and I know we will continue collectively to support people to achieve the best possible quality of life.”
Tony Hunter, SCIE’s Chief Executive, said: “We were pleased to be asked to carry out this review in circumstances which all stakeholders recognised to be challenging and complex. We found everyone involved to be open and frank about their views and experiences, complementing a range of case studies and other Care Act related documentation. We have therefore been able to provide the council with a range of findings and recommendations to further embed Care Act policy and practice across Norfolk, with strengthened mechanisms for engagement and partnership with stakeholders.”
SCIE’s findings were discussed today (Friday, 15 July) in a workshop for people who had contributed to the review. Norfolk County Council will now work with some of those people to produce an action plan in response to the review which will be presented to councillors at the September meeting of the council’s Adult Social Care Committee. The development and implementation of the action plan will be monitored by Making It Real, a user-led organisation representing people who receive care and support.
SCIE’s full report has been published on Norfolk County Council’s website this afternoon. Visit https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/https://www.norfolk.gov.uk:443/-/media/norfolk/downloads/what-we-do-and-how-we-work/policy-performance-and-partnerships/policies-and-strategies/care-support-and-health/external-care-act-implementation-scie-review-in-ncc to read it.
For political comment
Cllr Bill Borrett (Conservative) Chair of the Adult Social Care Committee, on 07767 768511
Cllr Sue Whitaker (Labour), on 01603 620957
Cllr Denis Crawford (UKIP) on 01842 761577
Cllr Brian Watkins (Liberal Democrat) on 01603 259306
Cllr Elizabeth Morgan (Green) on 07557 634290