Agenda and draft minutes

Select Committee - Loneliness and Social Isolation - Wednesday, 12th September, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Swale 1, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Gaetano Romagnuolo  03000 416624

Note No. Item

10:00 - 10:45


Penny Southern (Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Health) pdf icon PDF 67 KB


The Chairman welcomed the guests to the Committee and reminded the Committee of the Terms of Reference. A short introduction was given by Members and officers.

Q – Please introduce yourself and provide an overview of the roles and responsibilities that your post involves.


Mrs Southern introduced herself as the newly appointed Corporate Director of Adult Social Care and Health and said that she had been in-post for 6 months and had worked in Social Care for over 32 years. She said that she had worked in partnership with the local Clinical Commissioning Groups across Adult Social Care and Health, discharged the statutory obligations of the Director of Adult Social Services and was a Member of ADASS (Directors of Adult Social Services) in the south east region. She referred to the Social Isolation Select Committee and said that although the Committee focused on social isolation, it was important to recognise all of the implications in the individuals’ living circumstances when tackling social isolation.


Mrs Southern said she was passionate in ensuring that the services provided by Adult Social Care and Health in Kent focused on being approachable to everyone that used the services, as well as ensuring that Kent’s statutory responsibilities were adhered to to ensure that appropriate connections were made. She said that a report had been taken to the Adult Social Care Cabinet Committee on 9th March 2018 which focused on Commissioned Services for Adult Carers of Vulnerable Adults. She said that Medway Council had produced a useful strategy to reduce social isolation and Kent were not looking to follow in their footsteps by creating a similar strategy because there was a clear strategy for Adult Social Care and Health in Kent, which was regularly monitored, updated and shaped.


Q – Do Kent County Council have a Social Isolation Strategy?


Mrs Southern said that there was a strategy for Adult Social Care and Health called ‘your life, your wellbeing’ which covered all elements for individuals experiencing social isolation and loneliness. She said that if social isolation and loneliness was tackled in the right way and sufficient strategies were delivered, the issue would improve. She said that Adult Social Care and Health in Kent felt very comfortable with the current ‘your life, your wellbeing’ strategy, and if the strategy needed to be refreshed, officers would work towards ensuring that the strategy was up to date and provided relevant information.


Q – Who is impacted by Social Isolation and why?


Mrs Southern said that from an Adult Social Care and Health perspective in Kent, it was important to recognise that all individuals were impacted by Social Isolation in some way. Although she added that there were particular contributing factors which influenced social isolation and loneliness in relation to older people and those factors were listed in the ‘your life, your wellbeing’ strategy. The main contribution to social isolation and loneliness was ill-health. She said that she sensed a lack of confidence due to the way generations were developing with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1.

11:00 - 11:45


Mr Mike Hill (Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) pdf icon PDF 67 KB


1.            Members welcomed Mr Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services to the Select Committee Hearing. 


2.            Mr Hill explained that he had held the portfolio for Community Services since 2005, this portfolio contained core front line services which had a large impact in terms of social isolation in Kent. 


3.    The portfolio could be divided into 4 broad groupings:


a.    Public protection, Regulatory Services, Community Safety, Trading Standards, Kent Scientific Services, Coroners, Public Rights of Way, Gypsies and Travellers, Community Wardens and Emergency Planning.  Mr Hill was also the Chairman of the Kent Community Safety Partnership and the Chairman of the Police and Crime Panel;

b.    Libraries and Archives;

c.    Countryside Leisure and Sports, Countryside Partnerships and Volunteering;

d.    Culture and Creative Services, including Turner Contemporary. 


4.            The Chairman explained that there was not currently a specific stand alone strategy for loneliness and isolation, but that it was contained within an overarching strategy.  The Chairman stated that Community Wardens and the Voluntary Sector played an important role and he asked Mr Hill how he saw KCC’s strategy for loneliness and isolation developing. 


5.            Mr Hill commented that all the services within his portfolio had a role in preventing social isolation.  He particularly referred to libraries which were used as safe havens and he considered that there should be a stand alone strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation.  This should be in two parts, the first offering activities for residents, places to visit, areas with internet access and the second targeting intervention more directly to combat social isolation.  Community Wardens had a large role in targeting people who were socially isolated, their roles had changed from being a law and order service to working with communities, to be aware of vulnerable people in communities and to signpost them to the agencies which could help. 


6.            Mr Hill also referred to the Home Library Service which was run by volunteers and was a regular point of contact for many residents and an important part of their lives. 


7.            The Trading Standards Service had evolved and was now part of the front line community safety work, it now focussed on people who had been subject to scams and other fraud. 


8.            Members were pleased to hear about the Home Library Service and asked for more information about how many library services there were throughout Kent.  There were suggestions that library hours should be increased; the library was considered to be a location to meet other people, gain access to computers and education for free.


9.            Mr Hill stated that a new library strategy was due to be published, the core issue was the buildings of which there were 99.  These were considered to be a vital point of contact for communities and it was hoped that this view would be supported, libraries were more than just book lending services. 


10.         In response to a question about the number of Community Wardens and where they were deployed Mr Hill explained that there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

12:00 - 12:45


Mr Mike Whiting (Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste) pdf icon PDF 67 KB


1.            Mr Whiting explained his role as Cabinet Member and offered a written report (circulated to the Select Committee after the meeting) which set out in detail how the Public Transport department delivered services which sought to counter loneliness and social isolation.  He explained that the department’s mission statement was to help enable access to education, health and community services for diverse users across Kent, through the planning, procurement and management of public transport services”.


2.            This was done by managing the subsidised bus service and delivering statutory and discretionary bus services, as well as community transport services and the free bus pass service for older and disabled people. Statutory services included those on which children relied to travel to school, while the other services listed above were mostly discretionary. Community Transport covered a range of services, including the County Council’s own Kent Karrier service and services delivered by other operators but supported by the County Council.


3.            Mr Whiting acknowledged the role that transport services could and did play in addressing social isolation and said the County Council needed to find a way to manage service provision and support isolated communities by making the best use of the resources available. However, much of the service which could contribute most to addressing social isolation was discretionary rather than statutory and, as such, was not the subject of any extra funding from the Government.


4.            Mr Whiting was asked how committed the Cabinet was to overcoming social isolation, especially in rural areas where people could not access services due to a lack of transport, by helping more people to access community transport services. He explained that there was a general commitment to addressing these issues, by the Cabinet and by all elected Members.  Many other issues arose from social isolation, as people could not go out and about, attend medical appointments, visit friends and take part in clubs and social activities. The ability to engage socially was known to have a positive impact on people’s physical and mental health and benefit their quality of life. However, he was unaware of any statistical study to quantify the impact of investment made in community transport and the benefit this investment would bring.


5.            Social Services was a huge area of local authority expenditure, and it would be helpful to be able to demonstrate that every £1 spent on preventative services could save a given figure on the support services which would be required to address the negative effects of loneliness and social isolation.  It was important also to assess if each £1 spent could be spent more effectively and if it was being spent in the right place. He pointed out that the Kent County Council had continued to subsidise bus services while many local authorities had not. If evidence were to arise that funding could be directed more effectively, the County Council should take notice of this.


6.            It was suggested that, if a link between the relief of social  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Appendix pdf icon PDF 536 KB