Monday, 8 August 2011

Residents urged to have their say in social work plans

Local people across Argyll and Bute are being urged to give their opinions on the delivery of social work services over the next five years.

The council is about to launch a two-month public consultation on its draft plans for the future delivery of services to some of the area’s most vulnerable residents.

However, the authority is keen to ensure that the plans reflect the needs of social work clients and their carers before progressing to the next stage.

During August and September, the draft Commissioning Strategy and Plans will be distributed to all interested parties for their comments.

These include clients and their carers, staff, parents and families of children for whom services are provided, external service providers, elected members and other council departments and partner agencies such as NHS Highland, Argyll and Bute Community Health Partnership, Strathclyde Police, the Community Planning Partnership and the Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

At the same time, meetings will be held across the area to ensure that everyone has the chance to have their say over the proposals. There will also be an opportunity to post feedback online on the council’s website.

Only once all the comments returned have been collated and considered will the final strategy and plan be drafted later in the year.

The particular issues which the documents aim to address are:

Identifying the demand for social work services both now and in the future
Identifying and agreeing with clients and carers how these services will meet their needs
Planning and designing services to meet clients’ needs in partnership with clients and their carers
Putting these services in place either through the council providing them or by buying them from other organisations

Councillor Andrew Nisbet, Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for social affairs, said: “The draft documents have been developed in order to ensure that care services become increasingly flexible.

“The challenges we face of increasing demand, shrinking budgets and the need to provide more personalised services, mean that we have to find better ways of providing services in the future. What we are striving for is to be able to provide a better quality of life for the people who use these services, as flexibly and efficiently as possible.”

One example of the changes proposed is for outside organisations to provide care at home services for older people, rather than the council.

The council is also to consider tendering services for those with a learning disability. In addition, the proposed closure and smaller scale replacement of the Argyll and Bute psychiatric hospital in Lochgilphead means the council and its community health partnership partners will have to make the changes necessary to accommodate clients in the community.

The council also plans to support people in controlling their own social care budgets if they wish, to ensure that the care services they buy meet their own personal requirements and priorities.

Councillor Nisbet said: “I would urge all those with an interest in this critical area to give us their comments during the consultation period.

“The plans will not be finalised until the consultation period is over and the feedback received has been assessed and reported to the council.

“We will make whatever changes we can to reflect the needs of clients and their carers, within the constraints of best value. In the current challenging financial climate, it is obviously vital that we ensure that we spend our money in the most effective way possible, and on those who need it most.”

The draft documents will be posted on the council’s website at from Monday, August 15. The consultation will end on Friday, October 14.

The timetable of public meetings will be available on the website from August 15.