What is a performance inspection?
The Social Work Inspection Agency ( SWIA) is carrying out performance inspections of all local authority social work services in Scotland.
SWIA gathers and analyses a wide selection of information about a local authority and the social work services it provides or is responsible for. The inspection findings are published in a report that identifies strengths as well as areas for improvement.
This leaflet summarises some key findings of the inspection of Aberdeen City Council's social work services, which are set out in the full report published in June 2008.
SWIA had originally inspected Aberdeen's criminal justice social work services as part of a separate national programme of inspections in 2006. Our findings gave us cause for concern and we carried out a follow-up inspection of criminal justice social work services as part of the city's performance inspection. This report is contained in one chapter of the performance inspection report.
Aberdeen City Council will produce an action plan in response to the inspection report. The plan will set out how any necessary changes are to be made. Once the plan is agreed, SWIA and the council will monitor the implementation of the plan together.
If you would like a copy of the full report, or would like to know more about SWIA, please contact:Corporate Manager
Social Work Inspection Agency
Tel: 0131 244 4885
Fax: 0131 244 5496
The majority of people who used services in Aberdeen agreed there was a good range of services available to them, that they were involved in decisions that affected them and were treated with dignity and respect. There were some specialist services that were working well with people and making a positive difference.
Managers had developed a clear vision of where they wanted health and care services to go and there was an increasing focus on developing a performance management culture.
However, there were long-standing difficulties in health and care services in terms of budgetary control, reliability of data for service planning and ensuring that services were targeted at the right level of need. The latter had occurred in part because of an uneven approach to and variable quality of assessment and care planning.
Outcomes for people with learning disabilities receiving employment opportunities, young offenders and in some areas for young people leaving care were positive. However most other areas were weak. Staff morale was very low and staff did not feel part of the change processes that were in place.
Managers and elected members had not demonstrated the strong leadership required to address these long-standing difficulties. We recognised that there were plans in place to begin to tackle these difficulties, however at the time of our inspection it was too early to see evidence of the required changes.
We identified some key areas for improvement, including:
- the way in which the needs of service users and their carers were assessed and services planned to meet any identified need;
- staff morale and relationships between and within staff and managers;
- developing a better understanding of the impact of parental substance misuse on children within the city;
- developing a more inclusive approach to working in partnership with service users, their carers, staff and stakeholders; and
- planning the development of services in a way that improves outcomes for those using them and that are clearly matched with available resources.
The criminal justice follow-up inspection found that the service had increased the size of its workforce and almost all offenders had an allocated worker. Some aspects of the service had improved. However we found that there had been too little improvement and some deterioration in performance in other key areas of service delivery.
Senior operational and strategic managers continued to exercise insufficient oversight and quality control of the service. There was significant room for improvement in the quality of partnership working between the council and the Community Justice Authority.
Some examples of good services delivered by social work services and partner agencies
- The young offender review group identified young people about to reach the criteria for being persistent young offenders and offered services such as early intervention social workers or services from the voluntary sector.
- The welfare rights team was jointly funded by social work, housing and health. The service had carefully thought about where people would most want to access services. One member of the team therefore worked out of seven GP practices as this was where people felt comfortable to discuss their problems. Another visited people at home who were housebound and one of the team was based in the psychiatric hospital.
- The Barnado's project worked with young people in residential care to prevent them gathering charges for incidents within the residential units or schools. They offered mediation, restorative justice and anger management.
- The community placement team provided a range of community opportunities for people with disabilities. Employment opportunities included voluntary work, work experience, permitted work for those on incapacity benefit, social businesses and open employment. The service appeared flexible, creative and inclusive in its work with users.