Cllr Green said that child safety was paramount and that the safeguarding procedures were not weakening. He said it made sense to share expertise. At the opening of Raby Hall he had asked the Chief Executive if Wirral Autistic Society was charging above the personal budget. She had said “absolutely not” and that there was no top up charge. There had however been confusion.
Howard Cooper said there were big changes in a short timescale. Wirral Autistic Society was a good provider, but not cheap. Cllr Foulkes asked if they had “nailed down the costs”. The Director replied that there were ongoing discussions regarding autism.
The Chair asked a question about holidays for people with learning disabilities. Howard Cooper responded that it was the sort of area that they wanted to develop, but was currently underdeveloped. Cllr Foulkes asked if one of the positions had previously been a permanent post. He was told that it was not the case and that it had been a different job managing in-house provision of services.
The public were then excluded from the rest of the meeting.
Cllr Foulkes said he wasn’t going to sit here and say he was happy and that they took a different view of transformational change. He referred to the CQC report and asked if adults with learning disabilities having a choice was enough? Howard Cooper answered no. Cllr Foulkes pointed out that some choices cost more than the services replaced. He referred to Raby Hall costing £290/night whereas Maplehome was £380/week. He said carers had concerns.
Howard Cooper said he expected the system to improve so that people could exercise a diverse range of choices that just Wirral Council provision. He pointed out that Wirral Autistic Society provided very high quality and specialised care for people with autism as those people had a high level of need. Cllr Foulkes asked if carers had been made aware of choice.
The Director had examples of respite in people’s own home, that could be provided when carers go on holiday. Cllr Foulkes said he believed the whole process was going too fast. He referred to a visit to Maplehome. He said the manager had told them not to tell people there about the changes and that he was not 100% happy regarding the implementation.
Howard Cooper assured him that every single one had been contacted and that the day centre wasn’t being stopped, but would be provided in a different building. Cllr Johnston asked whether the safeguarding post was an interim or a permanent position.
The answer given was that it might need to continue beyond September. He said the need for two separate boards was a legal one, however different areas had different approaches as to whether adult and children safeguarding should be dealt with jointly or separately.
After the other reports and minutes were agreed most of the meeting was about the changes to Adult Social Services after the critical Care Quality Commission Report last year.
Howard Cooper (Interim Director of Adult Social Services) explained to those present that Social Services needed extra capacity in relation to safeguarding for vulnerable adults. He talked at length about how safeguarding was done in the Children and Young Peoples Department and how lessons could be learnt from them in how to do safeguarding well for vulnerable adults.
Although someone had been working with both the C&YP Dept and DASS, the current management team for children was stretched. As a result he recommended that the Employment and Appointments Committee make two temporary appointments (until a new Director was permanently appointed). The first would be an Interim Head of Service and the second an Interim Head of Joint Adults & Childrens’ Safeguarding.
Cllr Green asked about child safety. Howard Cooper referred to the recent OFSTED inspection. He pointed out the advantages and risks of taking a joint approach to safeguarding and that it would have positive benefits with the transition from children to adults. The changes to DASS would take place in phases. From January to March changes would be made, but from April to July longer term structures would be put in place before the transition to the new permanent director of Adult Social Services. Mr Cooper referred to changes happening in the NHS, Wirral Council becoming a health provider, the public health function coming to Wirral Council and GP Commissioning.
Cllr Green said it had been a huge piece of work. He apologised for the way the decision of the 9th December had been communicated. There had been failings and he took responsibility. He said this administration put carers at the centre. He said the contracts had been looked at by a team of council officers to evaluate the standard of quality. He said carers were “at the heart of what we do”. He also said service users were part of what they were doing.
Cllr Moon said there had been a successful tendering process. However providing mental health respite couldn’t be met as the quality was not there. Therefore Fernleigh would remain open until other arrangements were in place. He said the real winners were vulnerable people who could now exercise choice. He referred to the CQC report which had criticised Wirral Council for poor personalisation and also on dignity and respect. He said 30% would have personal budgets by the end of March and that they were moving ahead on dignity, respect and safeguarding. He realised they were working hard. He said they had far, far further to go over embedding and safeguarding. He restated the commitment to users and carers and referred to a three month track record. He said the 322 assessments had been dealt with sympathetically.
Cllr Green thanked officers, carers and Cllr Moon. He checked with the Interim Chief Exec over waving the call in. The Interim Chief Exec agreed. Cllr Foulkes interrupted and said it had been the second time call-in had been waived. Cllr Green said he would take “no lessons from the Labour Party about the Department for Adult Social Services”. He said it could be considered by the Scrutiny Committee and hoped some members would read the reports and how to treat vulnerable people.
Cllr Green having declared an interest left and Cllr Holbrook took the Chair. The next report was on extending the transport contracts by a further 6 months. Cllr Moon said the procurement process would be completed by the end of July. The recommendation in the report was agreed.
Cllr Green returned and the Cabinet considered a report on Contracts for Personal Support. Rick introduced the report on behalf of the Director of Adult Social Services. He referred to the decisions of the Task Force to transform the contracts for residential and nursing home provision. He noted the closure of Maplehome, Pensall House, Poulton House, Manor Road and Meadowcroft. However the decision to close Fernleigh Respite Centre had been changed. The Director of Adult Social Services had agreed to waive call-in so that they could work quickly with the tenderers. The report was comprehensive and also covered residential and nursing care. 94 providers had agreed the revised terms and conditions. There was provision to provide people with respite care as well as a fee reduction for out of authority contracts. In relation to intermediate care it had been successfully tendered. Domicilary care and supported living services would provide reablement and support. It was a substantial piece of business and work would be done to try and ensure the changes take place. The Council would continue to commission services on people’s behalf and the efficiencies and savings were outlined in the report regarding changes to staff and redeployment.