A report on the council’s collaboration work with voluntary sector organisations and local communities.
Following a brief introduction by Sarah Scott, (Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health), Di Billingham, (Lead Commissioner - Adult Early Intervention), and Louise Holder, (Strategic Lead - Adult Social Care Transformation), updated members on the council’s prevention and early intervention work in collaboration with the voluntary and community sector (VCS).
Key messages noted at the meeting included: -
a) The importance and value of the voluntary and community sector to Gloucestershire’s care and support market;
b) The benefits of establishing strong relationships, creating trust and developing mutual understanding on the success of the council’s prevention work;
c) The links between people choosing to live independently in their own homes and the need to provide vibrant and varied community offers;
d) Recognition of community and placed based activities as essential components to the delivery of the Adult Single Programme and enabling people to live independent lives;
e) The value and importance of collaborative working as a means of strengthening the councils connections and investing in areas where gaps exist or when experiencing increased demand;
f) How working with the voluntary and community sector meets the requirements of the council’s Care Act duties.
An underlying message throughout the presentation was the ever increasing demands being placed on adult care services, combined with limited resources in terms of available funding from which to provide the best possible care to those people at most need.
In recent years, new and innovative approaches in delivering Adult Social Care, (forming part of the Adult Single Programme), has enabled the delivery of services by the GCC Adult Social Care Team, (in collaboration with the voluntary and community sector), to flourish. The benefits of collaborative working became increasingly evident during the COVID-19 Pandemic, where new and more digitalised ways of working enabled the delivery of services to be maintained in spite of significant challenges to the system.
Members were informed that a Digital Innovation Fund introduced in 2020 had been instrumental in providing funding to a variety of community organisations, allowing them to adapt to more digitalised ways of working and in breaking down barriers to ensure a more independent way of living through the use of technology. It was reported that, in 2021, the fund had focussed on supporting schemes aimed at improving digital literacy, working with BAME, (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), communities and supporting people with disabilities and sensory impairments. Despite the advances, there remained some barriers to digital working.
Responding to questions on how the Gloucestershire ‘Three Tier Conversation’ model of social care functioned, it was explained that Tier 1 of the model was fundamental in the development of people’s strengths, (and those of their families and local communities), and in helping people to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
Tier 1 represented the basis for providing information, advice and guidance to those most in need of support. It was explained that the voluntary and community sector was uniquely positioned to support this approach, allowing it to develop a wider understanding of a persons’ needs and consider taking appropriate preventative action before the needs escalated or reached crisis point.
During 2018, a series of workshops had been held throughout the county, highlighting the challenges to the social care system and introducing the Three Tier Conversation Model as the new approach to delivering social care services in Gloucestershire. Feedback from the workshops and a community wellbeing survey undertaken at the same time identified the need to:-
a) Establish a cross sector network allowing practitioners, VCS and community groups to better understand one another, share intelligence and work together to address gaps and barriers;
b) Create an information portal from which to provide updated health and care and community information, (for use by practitioners, the VCS, families and individuals);
c) Seek small grants from which to invest in local activities/address gaps or meet increased demand.
When asked whether it would be useful to arrange further workshops, (in response to ongoing changes to delivering social care), it was explained that, although the workshops had provided a kick-start on how to develop a better understanding of peoples’ needs, to continue this approach was not something likely to be repeated. It was, however, something that would be built upon and developed in the future.
Members acknowledged some of the successful activities that had been introduced in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. They were informed that, during this time, essential work had been undertaken by the County Council, District Councils and NHS Health Services, working alongside local voluntary and community groups.
One such activity had been the invaluable work undertaken via the ‘Know Your Patch (KYP) Networks’, set up in 2018. Conveniently located in all 6 districts, KYP Networks had been key to the county’s response to the pandemic. Feedback and communication generated by the network system had allowed the social care team to gain more understanding of the needs that existed within local communities and to put in place the necessary processes from which to provide food, prescriptions and social contact to those in most need.
In terms of financial support, it was noted that, for the current financial year, the Adult Single Programme had made a direct contribution of over £800k to support the work of the voluntary and community sector. Acknowledging some of the benefits generated from working alongside volunteers and local communities during the pandemic, it was confirmed that the Council intended to build on this success by proposing that the Council’s Care Act Budget remain at the same level for the 2022-23 financial year.
During the past year, the council had been actively involved in work with the NHS One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System Partnership, successfully securing an additional £200k from NHS Gloucestershire CCG to invest in the rollout of a pilot for the creation of ‘digital buddy hubs’ located in each district. Co-ordinated by the community sector, the hubs would be essential to reaching out to wider parts of the county, in particular, to those living in remote locations who might find it hard to connect with the council’s prevention services.
Members commended the council’s ongoing work with the NHS One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System Partnership, including efforts to create links and combine resources pending further changes to the Care Act. It was confirmed that the intention was to consider how best to further the council’s support to the VCS; how to sustain the good work already underway and how to consider ways of developing new and innovative approaches to delivering social care and allowing more people lead independent lives.
The committee requested information on funding opportunities that might provide longer-term funding to support the work of the VCS, plus details of the criteria on which the award of funding and community grants are based. It was agreed to circulate the information via email, with a further update to the committee in the New Year. Action by – Lead Commissioner - Adult Early Intervention
Members commended the update and noted the report.