Posted: Tue 12th Oct 2021

Concerns flagged up over council’s in-house care monitoring service

North Wales news and information

A lack of capacity by Gwynedd’s in-house monitoring service means that care providers are not being visited on a consistent or timely enough basis, a “concerning” report has revealed.

With officers admitting that two years are elapsing between visits to some providers, members of Gwynedd Council’s Care Scrutiny Committee have urged decision makers to open the purse strings and employ more staff to carry out regular monitoring, in light of its findings.

Set up in 2016 resulting from a “fundamental weakness in the council’s ability to monitor the quality of care for adults consistently and effectively,” the Quality Assurance Service was set up to ensure “pro-active and preventative” monitoring.

The service has been designed to spot and rectify any issues before being flagged up during statutory assessments by Care Inspectorate Wales officers, with the in-house monitoring including:

  • 11 Internal Care Homes
  • 2 Learning Disabilities Homes
  • 14 Private Care Homes
  • 8 Nursing Homes
  • 9 Supported Housing Providers
  • All Domiciliary Care Providers
  • Day Care Services

But in an “honest” update to committee members, the report acknowledged that providers were not being visited as often as they should – said to be partially down to the modest size of the three and half member team.

With members told that it has only been possible to monitor care, nursing and supported housing provision, home and day care services had not been reached,  with visits compounded even further by the pandemic.
Councillors also heard that the latter end of 2020 saw safeguarding reports received, with claims that suitable care was not being provided within five homes in the county.

Prompting face-to-face monitoring,  three care homes and two nursing homes within the county were later placed under the “Escalating Concerns” procedure and resulting in an embargo on new placements.

But acknowledging that the heavy workload has seen gaps of up to two years between monitoring visits to some providers, officers wanted to see similar arrangements to Conwy where such visits generally take place every six months.

In response, Cllr Cai Larsen said he was “worried” about the lack of capacity, noting the “clear difference” with the situation in Conwy.

He added, “Is there any way to divert more resources? If something inappropriate happens in a care home then its a risk to the council’s good name and will be made public.”

Cllr Richard Medwyn Hughes also described the report as “very disappointing,” despite acknowledging cash and capacity being issues.

But with the team planning to submit a bid for further council funding for the next financial year Cllr Dafydd Meurig, the portfolio holder for adult social services, encouraged the committee to show its support.

Following the committee’s findings a spokesperson for Gwynedd Council said, “Our staff monitor and support care services, complementing the work of the Care Inspectorate Wales as the independent regulator who register, inspect and take any necessary action to deliver improvements.
“The Quality Assurance Team’s main purpose is to safeguard adults whose care and support needs are provided by registered Adult Care Services within Gwynedd.
“Since it was established in 2016, the team has actively supported care providers to address identified concerns in a timely manner and assist them to avoid more formal action if corrective steps are not taken.
“Clearly the pandemic has had a significant impact, on-site monitoring has not been possible and re-establishing this work is currently well under way.
“However, currently staffing and capacity concern across the care sector is having an impact on the team.
“Our aim is to support providers to ensure that quality care is delivered in a safe and comfortable environment.
“The council has seconded an additional member of staff to the Quality Assurance Team to assist in addressing the current challenges and consideration is also being given to increasing capacity within the team further.”

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter

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