To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, and to consider and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member on the proposed decision to delegate the social care and support functions set out in the report, under section 79 of the Care Act 2014.
Mr M Thomas-Sam, Strategic Business Advisor, and Ms C Grosskopf, Strategic Policy Lead for the Care Act Programme, were in attendance for this item.
1. Ms Grosskopf introduced the report and clarified that the ability to delegate the assessment function applied also to specialist assessments in respect of services for blind people and deaf people. The County Council was able to delegate the assessment function if it wished to; there was no obligation to do so. Ms Grosskopf, Mr Thomas-Sam and Mr Ireland responded to comments and questions from Members and the following points were highlighted:-
a) it was the assessment function and service provision for the specified areas only that the County Council was minded to delegate; the Council would retain control of the funding for services and the legal responsibility for contracting for those services;
b) concern was expressed that legal advice had been sought about the detailed operation of the new delegation but that advice had not yet been received, so the detail of how the new delegation would work was, as yet, unclear. However, Ms Grosskopf pointed out that, on the advice so far, it was expected that delegation would be implemented via the commissioning and procurement processes;
c) in response to a question about how the operation of the service would be monitored, Mr Thomas-Sam explained that regular monitoring would be part of the Care Act Programme and, in the light of actual data, following the implementation, any necessary adjustments needing to be made to the service would be reported to the committee as part of its usual monitoring process;
d) a view was expressed that existing expertise in undertaking assessments should be retained ‘in-house’ by the Council as far as possible. Mr Ireland clarified that the Council was not seeking to externalise its social work assessment functions; the new delegations related only to the specified client groups. In taking on new areas of responsibility, the Council was venturing into service areas of which it had no previous experience or expertise, so it made sense to delegate the assessment function to organisations which did have this experience;
e) a concern was expressed that the bodies to which the Council would delegate the assessments may not have sufficient capacity to undertake them; and
f) a view was expressed that there would need to be a robust system via which a client could appeal against their assessment and request that it be reviewed. Mr Thomas-Sam explained that there would indeed be a national appeals system but the detail of this would be included in the second part of the Care Act implementation. It was expected that the Government would publish a consultation document in due course, early in 2015. However, as best practice, the Council would ensure that quality of decision-making could be clearly evidenced, in the event of any decision being challenged under an appeals system, and that every individual would be provided with the information they needed, relating to their assessment. This best practice would require staff to be given necessary training so they were able to provide and uphold the best possible assessment service.
2. The Cabinet Member, Mr Gibbens, commented that the Care Act was a huge piece of legislation which would bring far-reaching changes to the way in which the County Council delivered social care, and, as such, its implementation would need to be closely monitored. He suggested that regular update and monitoring reports be made to the committee on the overall implementation of the Care Act, and that the frequency of these reports could be agreed as part of the agenda planning process.
3. RESOLVED that:-
a) the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, that the following adult social care and support functions be delegated, from April 2015, under Section 79 of the Care Act 2014:
1) assessment and care provision for prisoners,
2) assessment of self-funders, existing and ongoing, for the purposes of the cap on care costs,
3) specialist assessments for blind people,
4) specialist assessments for deaf people, and
5) carers’ assessments and administration of some aspects of support for carers,
be endorsed, taking account of the comments made by this committee; and
b) regular update and monitoring reports be made to this committee on the overall implementation of the Care Act.