May 2003 to April 2007
|NORTH AYRSHIRE COUNCIL|
|Agenda Item 4 |
28 May 2002
|Subject: ||Research Report : Older People's Services|
|Purpose:||To inform Committee of a recent research report completed by the University of Paisley (The Centre of Gerontology and Health Studies) in partnership with North Ayrshire Council Social Services. In particular to note the relationship between the research report and the Strategic Review of Older People's Services.|
1.1 As part of the Strategic Review of Older People Services, Social Services decided to invite the University of Paisley's Centre of Gerontology and Health Studies, to undertake some research into the impact of the Joint Future agenda on the delivery of services to older people in the North Ayrshire Council area.
1.2 It was agreed that a full time member of their staff, under the direction of Professor Harriet Mowat, would be seconded to the Council for a six month period to undertake the research. Following initial negotiations it was agreed that the methodology adopted would be what is described as a Snapshot Research Project. This essentially entails presenting frontline staff with a case study (referred to in the report as the research vignette) and discussing with them current methods of intervention and service delivery.
1.3 The researcher, as well as interviewing frontline staff, also was aware of the emerging Joint Future agenda and the rapidly evolving policy initiatives around services to older people. This was considered in the light of frontline staff experiences and a number of conclusions drawn. In addition the researcher also looked at practice elsewhere in the UK, and in Denmark where a model of service provision, including free personal care, was previously developed.
2. Current Position
2.1 The research report, copies of which will be available at the meeting, is the culmination of this 6 month project and represents a useful insight into service users current experience of services, frontline staff experiences of reorganisation, the impact of new policy initiatives, inter-agency working and trying to meet growing demands from an increasingly vulnerable and ageing population.
2.2 The report provides a series of snapshot views, derived from interviews with 41 staff, into what is happening on the ground across the local communities in North Ayrshire. In particular it raises issues around 4 key themes. These are :-
2.3 In addition to the local analysis the report provides useful insights into the challenges of developing the Joint Future agenda in Aberdeenshire, where joint working and joint partnership boards have already been established. It also draws on the experience of Denmark, where in addition to being similar in size and population to Scotland, it also introduced Free Personal Care a number of years ago and some useful lessons have been extracted from that experience.
- Service variation: it is quite apparent that the delivery of services to older people is not provided to the same degree in each community within North Ayrshire. The Strategic Review report highlights this factor where levels of home care or residential care vary across the whole area. Even where the level of service delivery is either in the higher levels of provision or meets the local or national norms, there are strong perceptions that service levels are lower than the reality.
- Communication: this covers communication between agencies, communication within agencies and communication between agencies and service users. It is a recurring theme in discussions across all localities and there are a number of references throughout the document to reorganisation, new policy initiatives and the impact of a rapidly changing agenda on both service users and workforce.
- Co-ordination: this area highlights particularly the fact that providing services to older people often involves a range of services and carers/family members. Once again there is variation in practice with very strong leadership and models of service delivery in some areas and in other areas poor co-ordination and poor communication between services, or within services, creating poorer outcomes for service users.
- Flexibility: this principally refers to the availability of services on a 24 hours, 7 day a week basis and ensuring that we are able to develop a workforce that can meet the current and growing needs of an ageing population. It highlights the potential shortfall in labour supply in future years and the difficulties this may pose.
3.1 The development of a working relationship with academic institutions, in this case with the University of Paisley, has proved to be a very useful approach, particularly in gaining insights into the experience of service users and frontline staff in the current climate of change. The research report also provides challenges for the Council, in particular for Social Services and Housing and also for our partners in the Health sector. It is intended to circulate the report as widely as possible to ensure that the lessons learned through the research project are taken on board and where appropriate, remedial action and learning takes place.
4.1 The report carries no explicit cost implications but clearly carries implications for the way services are delivered, the way communication is undertaken both within and between organisations, the way flexibility is built into service delivery and the levels of co-ordination across sectors and within localities. It is important that the lessons learned from this study are built into future service delivery.
5.1 As reported elsewhere at Committee, the Strategic Review report is providing the basis for an extensive consultation exercise over the next three months. The findings of this research report should be taken into account during that consultation exercise. It may also be helpful to make people aware of the availability of this report so that the information contained in it can also be more widely disseminated and discussed.
6.1 The recommendations contained in the report and the questions raised by the report should be incorporated into the vision for older people's services that will be brought back to Committee towards the end of 2002.
Reference : LS/KA
BERNADETTE M DOCHERTY
Corporate Director (Social Services)
For further information please contact Louis Skehal , on 01294 317732
Committee Reports and Agendas