Posted: Fri 14th Jul 2023

Apology from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council CEO for mishandling of mobile home care service closure

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 14th, 2023

The chief executive of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has apologised for the way staff, trade unions and councillors were told about the closure of its night-time mobile home care service.
A notice of motion from Plaid Cymru councillors, which was accepted by full council on Wednesday, July 12, raised concerns about how the closure of the service was communicated, that it was a delegated decision by officers, the possibility of it being outsourced and a claim the service had been run down since March.
It called on the chief executive Paul Mee to make a statement, which he did, saying there wasn’t any intention to run the service down, that a review of the service was part of the budget strategy agreed in March and that it would not be outsourcing the service.
He said there would be no compulsory redundancies but recognised that the consultation with trade unions and the way staff were notified were not handled as well as he would expect and apologised.
The motion submitted by Councillor Adam Owain Rogers on behalf of the Plaid Cymru group said staff working in the service “were summoned to attend a meeting with officers and unions last week to be told that it was intended to outsource the service to other providers in the private/independent sector”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Mee said the budget strategy was agreed by full council in March which closed an unprecedented budget gap of £38m. He said the budget was subject to a consultation and the council had already started consultation on key service changes.
He said the review of the support at home night mobile service was considered as part of the “service efficiencies and operational service reconfiguration savings” agreed as part of the budget strategy.
He said: “In the context of increasing demand and ongoing budget pressures, the council continuously reviews all of its services across the council, including its social care provision.”
Mr Mee said the council’s wider support at home service provides nearly 17,000 hours of care and support at home each week to 1,431 adult residents across RCT through commissioned an in-house services.
He said: “The support at home night mobile service is a small discretionary service that is generally used to reduce the length of time between the last call in the evening and the first call in the morning with some calls during the night to help with continence care.”
He said the service provides up to 145 hours of care per week, supporting 46 people, adding there is no statutory requirement to provide a home care service at night and to the best of his knowledge, this service isn’t provided by any other Welsh council.
Mr Mee said that from April, the care and support needs of new clients was met through alternative provision and no additional people were added to the night mobile service “so as not to raise expectations and to ensure continuity of care provisions for those adults”.
He said the review was started because of the relatively high cost of the service, the limitations of its capacity due to its small size and its discretionary nature.
Mr Mee said: “There has not been any intention to run the service down since March of this year. This efficiency was already identified based on the service at the time the budget strategy was agreed.
“The review has determined that the care and support needs of the individuals receiving the service can be reviewed and reassessed to make alternative care and support arrangements to meet their assessed needs” which he said can be made through existing in house and commissioned services so they “will not be outsourcing the night mobile service”.
He said the decision was made as a “delegated operational decision” and said it had been properly made in accordance with the council’s scheme of delegation.
But Mr Mee said: “I appreciate this has caused concern to our staff, the trade unions and members of this council are quite rightly concerned about the impact on our valued workforce and of course those people in receipt of this service.”
He said the council will work closely with trade unions to support staff, adding that no compulsory redundancies will be needed with staff having the option of voluntary redundancy, voluntary early retirement or redeployment.
Mr Mee said: “Although I’m properly satisfied that this decision has been properly made by the interim director of social services and that the changes proposed are necessary, I fully accept that the manner in which the trade unions were consulted in advance and the way staff were notified was not handled as well as I would expect and for that I apologise to the trade unions and I apologise to the staff involved.
“I also apologise for the concern this has caused to members of this council. These are areas I will ensure are improved going forward.”
Counil leader Andrew Morgan said he was grateful to the chief executive for giving a “frank and honest” statement to members.
He said officers make delegated decisions every day when there’s no operational change and the end output is the same.
He said the priority is that the needs of those using the service are met.
He said cabinet does not shy away from making difficult decisions and they’ve had to make some really difficult decisions over the last few years but reiterated that there would be no need for compulsory redundancies.
Cllr Morgan said this is the first time he can remember when councillors have been unhappy in this particularly way and where they have had to ask the chief executive to make a statement.
Councillor Will Jones, member of the RCT independent group, thanked the chief executive for the “very frank and honest” statement and said the manner and lateness in which it was conveyed to staff and service users is “not what it should have been”.
He said as long as officers are confident they can provide the service that was provided before and that people are looked after, he’s happy with that.
Councillor Sam Trask, leader of the Conservative group, echoed the sentiments of other members in putting the people who use the service first and making sure they are looked after and also bare in mind council staff who are being affected by this.
He said it was “very reassuring” there are not going to be any compulsory redundancies. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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