Agenda item

Report by the Monitoring Officer on an Investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman into a complaint about Gloucestershire County Council

Decision:

RESOLVED to

 

1. Accept in full the LGSCO’s recommendations as set out in sections 13 and 14 of this report;

 

2. Support and endorse the actions identified by the Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health as set out in paragraphs 15 to 23 of this report.

 

3. Meet the LGSCO’s requirement to prepare a report setting out its response by sending to all County Councillors a copy of this report and of the minutes of the Cabinet meeting at which it is discussed.

 

Minutes:

Rob Ayliffe, the Monitoring Officer outlined that the report had arisen from a complaint that had been brought to the Local Government Ombudsman on behalf of an individual who received Adult Social Care services from the Council. The details of the case were summarised in the ombudsman’s report.

 

The ombudsman’s investigation found that the Council had failed to meet its responsibilities to assess and meet the needs of her and her carer. The ombudsman considered the failing to be sufficiently serious so as to issue a public interest report. The report made for extremely difficult reading and it was clear from it that the Council had failed to provide adequate care and support to the individuals concerned.

 

As the ombudsman had issued a public interest report, the Monitoring Officer was required to formally report those matters to Cabinet to ensure proper consideration was given to the report, that the Council acted on its recommendations and that lessons were learnt from it.

 

The Monitoring Officer outlined that in this case conversations had already taken place and that Cabinet and Senior Leaders were committed to doing everything to ensure that something like this did not happen again. The recommendations were summarised in the report.

 

Professor Sarah Scott, Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health, stated that the recommendations and had been accepted by the team and that they were being implemented in full.

 

However, she had wanted to seek additional levels of assurance regarding the standards of practice amongst our adult social care workforce. A report had now been  received from the Principle Social Worker from a neighbouring local authority.  The report outlined the process they followed to review the assessment, review, reassessment, care and support planning processes in Adult Social Care.  This involved, for example holding focus groups with staff, gaining feedback from those who have experienced reviews and assessments, shadowing a case audit and scrutiny of anonymised assessment and support planning paperwork.

 

The report provided evidence that the changes to the practices, processes and culture within Adult Social Care had made an impact within the service. Two short sections from the conclusion were read out:

 

This review has highlighted some areas of really positive practice and I have met dedicated professionals both within GCC Adult Social Care and within the Carers Hub who described creative and strengths-based working and a passion for improving the lives of the people they worked with.

 

It has revealed that there has been much progress since the period the Ombudsman’s findings relate to, in terms of a new strengths-based approach to social care, a more responsive service to people and their carers, and that staff are better supported through huddles and the other structures of support discussed.

 

Whilst there was a degree of reassurance in the report, it was recognised that there was always room for improvement.  The report made ten recommendations.  An action plan had been developed to ensure delivery against those objectives.  The action plan would be presented to the Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee when it next met in January along with an update on progress in meetings the recommendations.

 

Sarah Scott stated: ‘I fully accept that the standard of practice, care and compassion fell far short of what we expect from our teams, for the distress this caused I apologise unreservedly.    I have written to Ms X and her former partner to offer my apologies.’

 

 

 

Cllr Kathy Williams, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Delivery, acknowledged that his was not the standard of care that we aspired to deliver within the Council.  She extended her sincere apologies to Miss X and Mr L for the service’s failure to support them when they needed it most.

 

She stated that she regarded caring for people when they are at their most vulnerable as one of the most important roles as a Council, and one that absolutely had to be got right every time.  For that reason, she was was fully supportive of the suggestion from Officers to seek further assurance and  was pleased to receive the report from the Principle Social Worker from a neighbouring authority.   It provided a degree of reassurance regarding the standards of practice and the care and commitment with which our adult social care staff approach their work. 

 

She acknowledged that this did not alter the fact that in this case, the Council fell short of its duties, but indicated that she had greater confidence that this had been learnt from and that the improvements that had been made that would mean it didn’t happen again.

 

In addition to the ombudsman’s recommendations, internal processes were being strengthened for overseeing and reviewing complaints about Adult Social Care to further reduce the chance of something like this recurring.

 

Cllr Williams  stated that she wanted to assure Miss X, Mr L and Sarah Scott and her teams that these recommendations had her full backing as the responsible Cabinet Member.

 

The Leader echoed the comments made and invited members to endorse the recommendations.

 

RESOLVED to

 

1. Accept in full the LGSCO’s recommendations as set out in sections 13 and 14 of this report;

 

2. Support and endorse the actions identified by the Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health as set out in paragraphs 15 to 23 of this report.

 

3. Meet the LGSCO’s requirement to prepare a report setting out its response by sending to all County Councillors a copy of this report and of the minutes of the Cabinet meeting at which it is discussed.

 

Supporting documents: