A REPORT has been published of the recent inspection of Cardiff Council’s Social Services carried by Care Inspectorate Wales(CIW).
Undertaken in November and December 2020, the inspection looked at how well children’s social services has progressed on its journey of improvement, and how well social services as a whole continues to help and support children and adults.
The inspection focussed on three key lines of enquiry: first, how well the Councildischarges its statutory functions to keep people safe and promote well-being during the pandemic; second, how well the Council provides early help, care and support, and seamless transitions between services for disabled children and their families; and, third, what is being done to prevent the need for children to come into care.
CIW recognises that senior managers and lead members have introduced a new culture of raised expectation and standards in social care and that through partnership working, the local authority is engaging with all of its departments and other relevant partners to promote well-being outcomes. It notes that these strategic partnerships have developed with a shared ambition of maximising the delivery of seamless and sustainable services and that Cabinet Members for both adults and children’s services are well informed, understand the changes required to ensure the sustainability of services, and are focused on improving outcomes for people.
The report recognises that during the pandemic the Council demonstrated a need to change and adapt services to reflect newly identified challenges. This includes the need for mental health expertise in both adult and children services. It also recognised that new technology is being used creatively to address loneliness and social isolation, for example, the Independent Living Services Engagement Officers supported people to use digital devices to stay connected, whilst in children’s services virtual reviews using social media platforms have helped to engage young people.
The inspection team found that there were no child protection or safeguarding issues to raise and that safely reducing the number of children looked after has been recognised as a priority by the local authority. The modernisation of the Fostering Service is ongoing with the aim of improving outcomes for children and young people, and the ongoing recruitment of foster carers has increased capacity and diversity of in-house placements.
Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Cllr Graham Hinchey said:
“This report recognises the way that Children’s Services have been reshaped to focus on early intervention and prevention, and that services such as the Early Help Hub and the Cardiff Parenting Service have been developed to ensure services come together to provide the right support to the right people at the right time.”
“Inspectors recognised Cardiff’s clear strategic direction for both adult and children’s services. Whilst the way support is delivered in response to the pandemic has created challenges, our teams have been proactive and innovative in approach and we continue to identify strengths and those areas for improvement.”
The inspection highlighted positive examples of multi-agency approaches to risk management and of multi-disciplinary teams working together during the pandemic to share information and intelligence, ensuring the risks to people with the most complex needs are managed. It was noted that good and effective relationships with Police, the Health Board, Education and third sector have allowed the development of healthy strategic partnerships between health and social care services that can maximise the best use of resources and deliver improved outcomes for people.
Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health & Wellbeing, and Cllr Susan Elsmore said:
“CIW’s report provides a balanced picture of social services, and how Cllr Hinchey and I, in tandem with senior leaders, are driving a culture of excellence within social services to raise standards and ensure delivery of services that meet outcomes that matter to people. In relation to adult services, the report is positive with many areas of strength. Those areas of weakness identified for improvement will be addressed as part of our improvement plans.”