‘Challenging’ peer review of adult social care services in West Sussex had ‘many difficult messages’

Adult social care
Adult social care

An 100-day plan has addressed the most urgent issues identified in adult social care services in West Sussex, according to the county council.

The local authority underwent a voluntary peer challenge in May, which saw local government officers and councillors from other authorities report on the state of adult social care in West Sussex.

The report was described as ‘challenging’ at a recent meeting of the health and adult social care select committee, with ‘many difficult messages’ and findings that showed there was ‘a lot of remedial work to do’.

The council responded by running a 100-day plan between July and October to address the most urgent issues and set out a three-year adult services improvement programme.

A report from Dave Sargeant, interim director of adults’ services, said the plan ‘made significant progress in a number of areas, with some of this work still continuing beyond the 100-day period’.

He told the meeting the focus of the plan was remedial action, rather than significant improvement, adding: “Some of these things are very challenging – you don’t change your culture in 100 days but there were some tangible achievements.”

Among the issues identified during the 100 days was ‘outdated’ training, with some practice described as ‘slightly old fashioned’.

Mr Sargeant said a lot of e-learning had been introduced, with an ’emphasis on ensuring people understood the spirit of the Care Act’.

A team was also assigned to work on the backlog of safeguarding assessments for people in nursing homes, residential care and hospitals. The work is expected to be complete by the end of the calendar year.

Mr Sargeant described the peer review report as ‘becoming ancient history’ and ‘a snapshot in time’, adding: “I do feel we’ve made significant improvement going forward.”

One of the areas which needed addressing was the merging of health and social care responsibilities by 2020, as required by the Care Act.

It was an area in which committee chairman Bryan Turner (Con, Broadwater) said there were ‘doubts’.

Mr Turner praised the way members and officers had accepted the findings of the peer review and ‘set about fixing it’.

But he said there had been ‘no positivity’ from the area’s health leaders when it came to the required merger adding: “Hopefully that changes. We need a shared vision of where we’re going to be, but I don’t think it will be by 2020.”

Sarah Farragher, interim head of adult services improvement, acknowledged that it was ‘big challenge’ but added there was a ‘determination’ within the team and ‘we’re doing all we can’.