Thursday, 8 December 2016

North Lanarkshire Update

I've written previously about North Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership  (HSCP) which holds the future of the Council's home support service in its hands.

The HSCP has been operating for many months and has just established a 'Project Board' which will review how support in North Lanarkshire and make recommendations about how the service should be delivered in future.

Here are the Project Board's terms of reference: 

Terms of Reference

The purpose of this review, is to consider how best to promote independence and good lives for those for whom difficulties associated with frailty, long term conditions, mental health or disability means that they need some paid assistance from social work and /or health services on a temporary basis until they can become or resume a level of independence or on an ongoing basis. This requires consideration of options available to ensure that people get the right level of support they need at the right time and that they have as much say as possible regarding how and from whom it is provided, within the financial resources available to the Health and Social Care Partnership.

The proposed project board will:-

  1. Review how support is currently provided 
  2. Establish models of support which promote independence and re-ablement - including review of which staff and resources are available and/or needed to pursue this so that it is a universal approach for those referred for paid support 
  3. Review how best to approach the utilisation of the skills of the workforce across social work and health, who contribute to provision of re-ablement and of ongoing support arrangements for those requiring complex and end of life care – including how this workforce is trained, skilled, supported and managed 
  4. Review when support is most needed e.g. time of day, overnight etc. 
  5. Review how more choice and control can be afforded individuals as to how and by whom assessed needs are met, by widening opportunities for people to have control over an individual budget 
  6. Consider the role of independent support providers in light of the current tendering process to establish a framework of independent providers available to provide support if deemed appropriate for this 
  7. Make recommendations regarding proposals around any changes required to improve the overall opportunities available to assist service users/patients to have as independent and quality lives 
Group Governance and Membership

The group will make regular reports to the Director of Nursing and Head of Adult Social Work Services on a regular basis with a view to producing a report for the Health and Social Care Partnership and Integrated Joint Board.

The Group will be chaired by Dennis McLafferty, Manager Adults (Frailty and Long Term Conditions)

Members of the Group will be –

  • Service Manager Care at Home 
  • Locality Social Work Service Manager
  • Service Manager Quality Assurance
  • Accountant Finance
  • Associate Director of Nursing
  • Home Support Team Leader
  • Senior Home Support Manager
  • Service Manager HR
  • TU/Staff representation
The Group may co-opt additional support from additional individuals as identified as necessary and will seek wider consultation with wider stakeholders.

Now many of these aims are perfectly laudable, but I wonder how the consultation with the workforce will take place - preferably not via some union official sitting on a committee, but by actively talking with Home Support staff on the ground.

If anyone knows what the trade unions are doing (or not doing) on this subject, please drop me a note (in confidence, of course).

Because this is a very big issue - one where lots of people's jobs and livelihoods are at stake


NLC Update (18/08/16)

I understand that a potentially crucial meeting of the Joint Integration Board (JIB) of North Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is taking place on 12 September 2016 I believe.

As regular readers know this JIB/HSCP body is responsible for devising a detailed strategy to bring council-run care services and NHS services together, possibly under single service provider.

But as far as I can tell the ordinary rank-and-file members in North Lanarkshire Council know very little of what is going and how these discussions might affect their future interests.

So what I'd be interested to find out is whether there are any plans to brief members such as Home Care workers on what the JIB/HSCP has been discussing including options for the future os the service which have been the subject of speculation in the press.

Now if I were a member in NLC I would certainly expect a detailed report back from the union reps involved in these discussions, so that members can have their say and influence important meetings such as the one coming up on 12 September 2016.

If any readers have useful information or thoughts to pass on, drop me a note and I'll share the details on the blog site - in confidence, of course. 

NLC Update (24/05/16)

A kind reader has sent me a copy of a confidential report from a body known as the Joint Integration Board (JIB) of North Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership.

The JIB is just a fancy name for a big committee made up of very senior officials from North Lanarkshire Council and Lanarkshire NHS who have been charged with the task of getting social care (council-run) services and NHS services to work more closely together and more effectively, with a view to reducing 'bed-blocking' for example.

The report is dated 4 May 2016 which is important because the article below from The Motherwell Times with the banner headline "Home support staff are staying in-house" is dated 29 April 2016.

Yet the JIB report (dated a week later) says in Appendix 3:

4. Home Support

"Currently, around 77% of this service is provided in house, with 23% purchased from commissioned providers. The savings option was based on increasing the proportion the service purchased to 60%, although it would have remained the Service's intention to provide as much re-ablement and complex care as possible in-house whilst buying in more support overall."  

Now the JIB statement directly contradicts a previous decision of North Lanarkshire Council and I find it hard to believe that such senior officials were not aware of the Council's new policy stance.

So why is the Health and Social Care Partnership still pressing head with plans to out-source much of North Lanarkshire Council's home care service?

If you ask me, the Home Care workforce deserves some urgent answers because this JIB business just doesn't sound right.

Home support staff are staying in-house

Friday 29 April 2016

Home support workers sent a clear message they wanted to remain as council employees

Home support workers employed by North Lanarkshire Council will not see their contracts being transferred to the private sector.

The council currently employs around 1,400 care staff who provide vital services to local people.

Following budget cuts, one of the proposals to save £3.6 million being considered was to ‘TUPE transfer’ around 400 staff to a third party private provider.

During a public consultation about potential savings the public told the council this was the sixth least palatable option of the 98 listed.

The workers themselves also submitted over 15,000 letters they had collected from the public calling on the council not to take this action.

At the Housing and Social Work Services Committee yesterday (Thursday) convener Barry McCulloch announced this proposal will not be going ahead.

Councillor McCulloch said: “I am glad to announce our home care support will be remaining in-house. This was always our preferred option.

“Everyone knows what a vital job these people do to support those in need in our local communities, and I’m glad this has now been dropped.

“This has been made possible by relocating people in some of our care facilities and by vacancies arising within the service.

“We look forward to our home support staff continuing to provide an excellent service in our communities.”

His Master's Voice (18/06/16)

The trade unions in North Lanarkshire have shown their willingness in recent weeks to act as a mouthpiece for the Council, as this post on the future of the Home Care services demonstrates only too well. 

Days later the unions issue a joint press release with North Lanarkshire extolling the virtues of the late-running job evaluation (JE) review, yet the full details of this review have still not been released and the workforce remains firmly in the dark.

Strange days indeed and ordinary union members could be forgiven for asking what they are paying their union dues for, especially when the level of service and support  is so poor.

NLC Update (27/05/16)

Image result for his master's voice

A kind reader from North Lanarkshire sent me the following statement which has appeared on the Facebook page of the local Unison branch.


"in light of recent concerns over the future of home support, the bench asked the council to clarify its position on privatisation and TUPE transfer of home support workers.

"the council have assured UNISON that there are NO PLANS to privatise and TUPE transfer home support and that Cllr McCulloch's statement earlier this month where he said that privatisation was off the table still stands."

Now I think's it's a good thing that the union has been stirred into action, but why is Unison speaking on the Council's behalf?

Surely a senior figure from North Lanarkshire Council should be seeking these words 'on the record' was it were, otherwise they're not worth the paper they're not written on - as an old friend of mine was fond of saying.

Not only that, a clear statement of the Council's position should be sent to the Joint Integration Board of Lanarkshire's Health and Social Care Partnership so that the record can be set straight at its next meeting.