The Chair agreed to change the order of the agenda so Item 7 was heard first.
Councillor Huelin, Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Communities presented a PowerPoint on her portfolio holder responsibilities. This PowerPoint can be found from the link below:
Councillor Ralph thanked Councillor Huelin for a brilliant breakdown of her complex portfolio holder responsibilities and questioned what would benefit her as portfolio holder to do the role better, have better access to or help with the challenges of such a complex portfolio. Councillor Huelin stated this would be to have trust and to building relationships, better communications and collaborative working.
Councillor Holloway thanked Councillor Huelin for attending and referred to health checks for residents with learning disabilities and questioned what the portfolio was undertaking to ensure those residents with learning disabilities were receiving their health checks and the health care they required. Councillor Huelin referred to Les Billingham who stated this had unfortunately been an ongoing issue but prior to Covid this figure had improved but was unclear on the situation at present. Mark Tebbs provided members with an update that Thurrock had achieved the national target for checks of 75% in 2021/22. Current performance was around 60%. This was being monitored weekly and every practice had been written to explaining the importance of getting these health checks completed and the financial incentives available. Mark Tebbs continued to state this was a top priority for the NHS.
Councillor Fish stated he was pleased the figures had continued to improve prior to Covid but this was a key issue and was increasingly urgent as some residents were missing out. Councillor Huelin stated she was aware of the issue which had been evident in the increase in the number of care packages for those adults with learning disabilities but due to Covid they were trying to catch up on the checks. Councillor Huelin stated statistics and analysis of data would be available to share with members.
Councillor Fish referred to service users being consulted prior to any vital decisions being made and questioned how the portfolio holder intended to do this to which Councillor Huelin stated this would be through the consultation process.
Councillor Holloway referred to the pressures being faced with the overspend in budgets and questioned what impacts this would have on the service and what the portfolio holder would do to try and mitigate some of those pressures for her services. Councillor Holloway also questioned whether this would have any impact on any of the service users. Councillor Huelin stated the council was trying to identify and understand where those pressures were and would start with work on some of the external packages. Councillor Holloway stated it would be remiss of the council not to be looking years ahead and not have to worry what was to come and that service user care packages would not be reduced as part of any savings to which Councillor Huelin agreed this was the last thing the council would want.
Councillor Ralph referred to care packages and would there be more of an integrated service provider where the care packages had been designed for individual persons. Councillor Huelin stated this was covered under the transformation programme and the health and wellbeing board. Pilot schemes had worked with service users having more control over their care package. Joint working so care packages could be changed flexibly and quickly, and dignity was a high priority.
Councillor Polley thanked the portfolio holder for attending this evening and working with the committee and referred to care packages. She questioned whether there was any room to make some investments in preventative education which could reduce the demands on adult social care services in the future, such as stop-smoking and obesity campaigns and mobilisation classes. Councillor Huelin stated these were part of the preventative care package where there were helpful leaflets, self-help ideas and links were available on the council web site. There were also a lot of different options and programmes already available for residents. Les Billingham stated Thurrock had over the last 10 years been on a journey looking specifically at prevention and integration of services which had proven highly successful and was acknowledged within the sector as being ground-breaking.
Councillor Huelin left the meeting at 7.50pm.