Room for improvement in Merthyr Tydfil children’s and adults’ services

Concerns about both children’s and adult services in Merthyr
Tydfil are highlighted in a joint review published last week,
despite the significant progress and improvement the council has
made since becoming a unitary authority in 1996.

The review found the council is not consistently applying an
assessment framework to guide decision-making and the management of
risk in respect of vulnerable children.

In addition, eligibility criteria are not yet fully implemented,
leaving the public and potential referrers to the service unclear
about the range of needs and services available.

In adult services, the assessment and care management process is
“basically sound”, according to the review, but the standard of
care plan reviews needs to be improved.

The report also finds key gaps in mental health, substance
misuse and disability services, while there is a need to develop
strategic partnerships with other agencies to create more tailored
services for adults and older disabled people.

On a more positive note, the report points to “real strengths in
some crucial areas”, including the quality of multi-disciplinary
working, efficient decision-making, and an “enabling” and
user-focused staff culture.

“The council needs to stop and think about the service it
provides now and where it wants to be in the future. It needs a
longer term view and new ways of approaching change,” said Audit
Commission/Social Services Inspectorate assistant director of joint
reviews Sue Mead.

“It can, however, exploit the strengths it clearly has, the most
important one of which is some good staff and teams.”

– East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s overall children’s services
are effective, with children kept safe and positive examples of
holistic and multi-agency work, according to a new SSI report.

The report concludes that the council has responded well to a
joint review of social services in 1999 which found that although
many people were well served, family support centres were
under-developed while services for children with a disability were

However, services for children with a disability still required
“further attention”, says the report, pointing to the limited
availability of respite care and under-developed co-ordination
between the different agencies involved.

In a list of 19 recommendations, the report highlights the need
for an “urgent review” of the council’s emergency out-of-hours
service, which it describes as a “potentially vulnerable part of
the service”.

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