Officers provided a presentation to the committee on the single point of contact (SPOC), which is also the first point of contact for many referrals that are received by Social Services.
Officers noted that the presentation would focus on the single point of contact in relation to adult services. Prior to outlining the detail of the services, officers outlined how the referral system currently works. There is one single phone number and email address which is used for both children and adult services. Following on from initial contact, there is an integrated referral form which is used regionally by partners when referring a case to social services. SPOC will undertake assessments in order to provide information, advice and assistance to those who make contact.
SPCO operate on a multi-disciplinary team structure. Officers went through the make-up of the adult SPOC team. Staff numbers have been increased due to the concerns that were raised last summer around response rates.
The new structure was introduced in summer 2022. It was recognised that the wider pressures in the adults social care team could be supported if the rate of referrals could be slowed down by responding to the needs of persons at the earliest opportunities with the outcomes focused model of practice.
Members were advised that the referred rates into adults SPOC has steadily increased over the last few years, with certain months being busier than others. Members were provided with a breakdown of the referrals over a recent six month period, and information pertaining to how they were actioned.
Officers discussed the journey of the referrals at the point that they are received by SPOC and the impact of proportionate assessments on the wider service. Proportionate assessments deal with advice and assistance as per the Social Services and Well-Being Act. Assessments can also assist in uncovering some more complex needs that may lead to further assessment within the system.
Members were provided with information relating to call times, and it was recognised that the number of unanswered calls has decreased. Contact Officers receive an array of phone calls, relating to various aspects of adult and children’s social care. Officers are constantly assessing how contact officers can be best supported.
Members raised concerns with regards to staff sickness and how they could be better understood. In addition, how can assistance be provided with regards to recruiting new staff. Officers confirmed that staff sickness was not in relation to stress or anxiety at work, but that it was mainly due to unpreventable illness that normally occurs.
Officers confirmed that they would be reporting on staff welfare and how this is supported in a report to be presented at a later date.
Members queried how customer satisfaction with the service was assessed. Officers confirmed that as a first point resolution only compliments seem to be received. However it was recognised that this does not mean that services users are not disgruntled. Officers noted the work that had previously been done with external consultants being engaged and capturing the views of service users and the feedback that they provided.
The Director advised that the expectation was that there should be no abandoned calls, especially when vulnerable people are telephoning a service that they require assistance from. There is an expectation that teams will have a look at the systems that are in place to make sure that they can be possible in the future.
Members noted the high demand on the service. Officers distinguished between the short term OT services and the long term OT services, where the waiting lists for assessments would be longer.
It was confirmed business support staff can assist with answering telephone calls, however it is recognised that they are not trained to deal with the complexities of the phone calls that are received. They would be able to provide an immediate answer to a call if required. The business support workers can deal with email referrals received in terms of putting them on the required system.
Following scrutiny, members noted the item for information.