Stoke-on-Trent social services is serving some people well, but
the prospects for continuous improvement are uncertain, according
to a joint review, writes Katie
While the social services department has many strengths, the
authority is “at a crossroads” and needs to make more key decisions
to allow social services to move forward and fully modernise its
services, finds the report by the Social Services Inspectorate and
the Audit Commission.
Stoke-on-Trent has achieved some positive changes to services,
and has plans to achieve further improvements in many areas, but
users, carers and other agencies are concerned that social services
can be slow to respond.
Many adult service users experience delays in accessing
services, a lack of clarity about who should have an assessment,
and too many referrals within the department and between
In children and families services staff tend to be reluctant to
offer family support. A more co-ordinated approach is needed
between agencies to ensure that the right combination of services
is available to prevent family crises.
The pattern of services has been changing too slowly, claims the
report, and opportunities to achieve better integration with local
health services have not been fully grasped.
The report reveals that there are good relationships across
local agencies and a “shared will” to develop better services.
However, the authority must focus on developing clearer and more
ambitious plans with its partners, and on implementing these within
an acceptable timescale.