Newport aims to make social services ‘fit for the future’

NEWPORT council is looking at ways to recruit and retain social services staff as part of a larger strategy to make its social services “fit for the future”.

The council carried out a review into the issue following a recommendation from the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales after a focussed review in 2008.

A report to members of the Overview and Scrutiny Forum for Young People’s Services said that Newport, along with other authorities were facing difficulties in attracting experienced and qualified social workers and occupational therapists because staff had been left with low morale and, at times little public sympathy, since high profile cases such as Victoria Climbié and Baby Peter were brought to light.

The report said that on September 22, there were nine social work posts and one senior practitioner post covered by agency staff costing £650,000 – almost double the £358,000 cost of employing the workers through the council.

Between February 2007 and September 2009, seven occupational therapists resigned from a total of 14 employed by the council and although all were replaced there was an increase in the waiting lists for patient assessments.

Proposals to tackle the problem include introducing a number of measures and incentives to attract workers and keep them in their positions long term.

These include promoting and offer continuing support for staff and their professional development and introducing financial rewards for best practice.

Strengthening links with the NHS and schools to offer more collaborative practices and introducing flexible working hours where possible are also proposed.