Agenda and minutes

Performance Scrutiny Committee - People - Tuesday, 21st September, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Connor Hall  Scrutiny Adviser

No. Item




Cllr L Lacey


Declarations of Interest




Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 115 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on  22nd June 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record.



In-House Children's Residential Care pdf icon PDF 289 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Children’s Services introduced the report and stated that there was a long history of children having to leave their Local Authority area to access residential care but that in Newport we were trying to address the national shortage of care and keep our children as close to home as possible. We had our own portfolio and had maintained our own homes for a number of years and had been committed to providing good quality residential care.

The Cabinet Member for Social Services told the Committee that this had been one of the most rewarding schemes that he had been involved in and the report reflected the commitment of all involved. He stated that we led the way in Wales and our achievement had been looked at by others as how to do things well. The new way of working meant through Project Perthyn that we had no locked doors and no office as we provided a home environment, which was as close to a family home as possible. We had a ‘cwtch’ approach in place, understanding the need for children to receive hugs and in turn learn about appropriate physical touch. Project Perthyn strove to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of our children. These facilities were real ‘homes’ for children and the comments from the children themselves reflected the dedication of the staff and demonstrated how they appreciated the manner in which they were cared for.


Members asked the following:


 -Was the provision in place sufficient for the numbers of our looked after children and what provision was in place for the varying needs of these children?


The Head of Children’s Services stated that we currently had 368 children and this figure was steady. The vast majority of these were in foster care and there had been a big push to recruit foster carers. The number we needed to have in residential care was relatively small. There was a small group of children with very complex needs and mother and baby units that we were unable to provide for and had to be placed outside of the Local Authority. We were currently close to the ceiling of what we needed for residential care in Newport with no emergency capacity at present. Emergency placements were a major challenge for us and an area we would continue to look at. 


-       What was the provision for respite care?


The Head of Children’s Services commented that we would continue to have children in care so would continue to seek out the best ways of providing care. Oaklands house struggled during the pandemic to provide respite care. 2 children there needed long term care but it was hoped that they would be able to move on by end of year.  We looked constantly at models of respite care. Newport City Council commissioned Ty Hafan on occasion and this was very particular specialist provision. Also some schools away from Newport provided respite care and specific foster carers for respite care,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Director of Social Services Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 387 KB

Additional documents:


The Head of Adult Services gave a brief introduction to the report.  The report contained information on how services had been maintained throughout the extremely challenging period of 2020/21. Although the report contained performance information, the performance reporting system that was in the process of changing during that period of time was suspended because of the pandemic, meaning that some of the detail was not fully available. Some of the historic measures were therefore not able to be included but could be provided verbally if required, during this meeting.


Members asked the following questions:-

 - With the reporting requirements changed, how were we able to draw comparisons without benchmarking figures?

The Head of Adult Services responded that  the whole of the reporting performance framework had changed as Welsh Government realised a lot of the previous measures were not giving them the information that they wanted. No targets had yet been established as a full year of data would be required to establish a benchmark for future performance. The new performance framework had changed so a comparison against the previous year was problematic. It was sensible therefore to treat this period as a baseline set of figures upon which to build future datasets to support evidence of future success, good practice and service pressures.


-There was an increase in assessments – what type of assessments were these?

About 30-40% were assessments for occupational therapy and the other large cohort of people were those wanting assessment for care and support. Often the families were unsure of what support they might need so Social Services worked with them and their families to determine what kind of support was needed, be it domiciliary care in the community, respite care or residential care. Whilst the majority of people who approached for an assessment were older people, there were adults of working age as well, whether because of physical or learning disability or mental health. The number of people that we assessed with mental health difficulties had increased by about a third during this period some of that as a consequence of the pandemic and deterioration in people's mental well-being. There had also been a significant number of people who presented with early onset dementia and dementia that had previously been manageable but a combination of factors linked to the pandemic and social isolation had meant this was no longer the case. 

In response to a follow up question the Head of Adult Services stated that it was often a family member who referred people with suspected dementia for assessment. People had presented later due to the pandemic and so because of deterioration in condition, peoples needs were more complex. Whilst we were coping in Newport and the Covid uplift from WG would continue until March 2022, discussions with Welsh Government were ongoing on how to meet this challenge.



- What was the situation with mental health assessments?

It was a service that was constantly under pressure and now had seen an increase in a third  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Conclusions of Committee Reports

Following the completion of the Committee reports, the Committee will be asked to formalise its conclusions, recommendations and comments on previous items for actioning.


The Committee wished to make the following comments to the Cabinet:

Residential Care Report

·         Committee wished for the opportunity to visit Windmill Farm before reopening to see the changes that have been made since their original visit.

·         The Committee would like to thank the officers for the report, as it was comprehensive and well set out.


Director of Social Services Report

·         The Committee would like further context on some of the statistics on homelessness contained within the report, namely:

o   Why have those who have been offered accommodation then chosen to leave it?

o   Clarification on the number of homeless and street homeless in Newport, and how homelessness is defined by Newport City Council.

·         The Committee would like to note that the overall report as well as their response to it was a positive one.



Scrutiny Adviser Reports pdf icon PDF 388 KB

a)      Forward Work Programme Update (Appendix 1)

b)      Actions Arising (Appendix 2)

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The Scrutiny Adviser noted changes to the Forward Work Programme – namely the change of dates for upcoming meetings. The Committee agreed to the change of dates and times.