Agenda item

Briefing on panel visit to Action for Independence (verbal report)

[Earl Piggott-Smith,Scrutiny Officer, to present verbal update]



Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, briefed the panel about the visit to Action 4 Independence in Wolverhampton on 5.11.19. The aim of the visit was to meet members of the social work team to talk about their experiences of supporting people with a diagnosis of dementia and also to get their views of using the ‘3 Conversations’ approach. Cllr Moran briefed the panel on findings from the visit and overall view of the support offered. Cllr Moran commented that dementia presents a number of challenges to the social work teams as it not a condition that a person will be improve and their health will decline. The important value of using telecare to support families and a person with a diagnosis was highlighted. Cllr Moran supported the introduction of ‘3 Conversations’ as the approach reflects best practice in social work. In discussion with social worker team the issue of managing caseloads of 30- 40 was highlighted as a concern and the impact of picking up more cases when on duty. Furthermore, the pressure on front line staff working on complex cases added to already high stress levels.  There was recognition by the panel of the need to support staff and for them to have access to support, and specialist clinical support. The Director of Social Worker accepted that the new ways of working presented a challenge to social work teams at this stage of the process and referred to his own experiences of working in social work team. The Director of Social Worker offered reassurance about casework management and explained that in the past caseload of 60 -70 cases were the norm, but it was important to note not all the cases would be active.


Cllr Bennett commented on issue of number of calls to City Direct which were directed to social work teams and expressed concern about the impact of delays in callers getting their issues resolved. The Director of Adult Services commented that this is new role for managers who in the past would have allocated cases. In the new arrangements social workers on duty have to be able to self-allocate which presents a challenge to them, but this does require social work team managers to understand the issues facing duty staff and have discussions about work allocation. The panel were advised that social work teams are encouraged to meet informally through ‘huddles’ to talk about difficult cases which are causing them stress and to get advice and support.


The panel expressed concern about lack of awareness about welfare support offered from the Council experiencing work stress. The Director of Adult Services advised that while specialist clinical support is not available other forms of support are available. The support service is actively promoted, and managers should be aware of the process for making a referral. The Director of Adult Services advised that calls to the Council are referred directly to the appropriate teams to respond and the work being to reduce caller waiting times. The panel commented about whether social work staff should be able to access a qualified counsellors. The Director of Adult Social Care added that levels of staff turnover in adult social work teams are low. The level of staff turnover is always traditionally been much higher in children social work teams.


The panel praised the professionalism of social work team and wanted to formally record their thanks for making time available and willingness to share their experiences. 


The Director of Adult Services welcomed the willingness of social work teams to share their views and the issue of managing the call duty system is an area that further work will be done in response to the issue highlighted during the visit.



            The panel agreed to note the report.