1. The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Mrs C Bell,
gave a verbal update on the following issues:-
Symptom-free Testing sites – 24 sites were now open across the county and a full list of them could be found on the Kent County Council website. As at 28 February, 364,065 tests had been done, of which, 2,460 had been positive. Anyone testing positive would be advised to self-isolate.
Kent Infection Control Hub launch – an online portal brought together expertise from social care providers and offered interactive features such as webinars, podcasts and a chat facility.
Loneliness and Social Isolation Select Committee – work was continuing to implement the recommendations of the Select Committee, which had reported in March 2019:
· Knock and Check Campaign – this had been running since October 2020 and encouraged people to check on a neighbour whom they knew to be vulnerable, elderly or alone, to check that they were alright and if they needed any help, for example, with shopping or household tasks. The campaign had attracted positive media coverage and an estimated 6,500 people living alone had been helped by it.
· Community Wardens Social Prescribingproject ‘Connected Communities’ – community wardens had been trained as community connectors, to reach people aged 65+, living alone, who may otherwise become isolated and lonely. Four pilot schemes had been established, in Folkestone, Maidstone, Ramsgate and Sheerness, which offered a 12-week intervention using video calling. Face to face meetings would be added later, once pandemic restrictions had been relaxed. In the pilot areas, referrals could be made online.
KARA project – a series of slides set out the latest statistics and feedback on the project. Licensing for tablets to access the project had now been extended to April 2022, allowing people to continue benefitting from the project while covid-19 restrictions were ongoing. More than 1,000 tablets had been activated for use with the project and a second dedicated support worker had been recruited. 127,000 calls had been made and feedback from the users of the project had been very positive. For example, use of tablets by care home residents had freed up the homes’ phone lines, which would previously have been tied up for long periods of time, and people working with sensory teams could communicate by sign language, using the device. One unit had been supplied to inpatients of a psychiatric unit and three supplied to Maidstone Hospital. Mrs Bell recorded her thanks to the teams who had set up and run the project and hoped that it could be further extended in the future.
2. As this was the final meeting under the current administration, Mrs Bell thanked the Chairman for her leadership of the committee and thanked Members for their interest and constructive challenge and questioning at meetings. She also thanked the Deputy Cabinet Member, Diane Morton, for her support of the Cabinet Member role and, in particular, as a champion of mental health issues.
3. Mrs Bell responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:-
a) asked how the areas for the pilot scheme of the Connected Communities project had been chosen, and if other areas could be added, Mrs Bell explained that, as community wardens were employed by the Growth, Environment and Transport directorate, Adult Social Care did not have first-hand involvement in directing the project. She undertook to find out about the selection of areas and advise the committee outside the meeting. The Chairman welcomed this and said that a scheme in every area of the county would be the ideal;
b) asked why the KARA project had been extended just to April 2022, Mrs Bell explained that the contract for the technology used for the project was renewed on an annual basis, as the specification may change over time, but this did not mean that the project would not extend beyond the next year. Her aim was that the project would become a permanent part of the Adult Social Care service; and
c) referring to the Knock and Check campaign, concern was expressed that people in some age groups may be less comfortable asking for help from a neighbour and may be less likely to engage with and benefit from the campaign.
4. The Corporate Director of Social Care, Mr R Smith, then gave a verbal
update on the following issues:-
Staff update – Janice Duff, Director of Adult Social Care, East Kent, had retired, Damien Ellis, Head of Provision, was taking a year away from work to explore new opportunities, and a new Assistant Director for North Kent, Sidney Hill, had been appointed.
Winter Plan – it had simply not been possible to predict and plan for the issues which had arisen during the winter of 2020/21, including the emergence of the ‘Kent Strain’ of covid-19 and the ongoing lockdown and restrictions. Partnership working had been good, with partners meeting weekly to look at issues. This had helped Kent to avoid needing to declare a critical incident, and the county had almost returned to the usual health and care pressures it would expect to deal with at this time of year. The aim now was to build on this success in preparing for winter 2021/22. Mr Smith placed on record his thanks to colleagues across the County Council and in partner organisations for excellent joint working.
Domestic Abuse Partnership Board – this new board would be chaired by Akua Agyepong. A more detailed report on work on domestic abuse and Kent’s response to the Domestic Abuse Act would be made to a future meeting of the Cabinet Committee.
Covid-19 vaccinations – national targets for vaccinations had been met, which was a great success story for Kent and an example of good collaboration.
5. It was RESOLVED that the verbal updates be noted, with thanks.