Councillors debate social care commissioning in Calderdale after concerns highlighted over 'breakdown' between families and professionals

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Meetings have started being held with families who were seriously let down over loved ones’ care provision, Calderdale councillors have been assured.

Earlier this year shocked councillors heard there had been a complete breakdown in relations between a community and professionals over how some social care has been provided.

The council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board heard members of Calderdale’s Asian community speak movingly about how they felt powerless, isolated and unable to voice their concerns about their loved ones’ treatment over issues including their diet.

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Councillors heard serious disorder and protest was only avoided through the work of Nur e Sabil – a group of Muslim families coming together as advocates for their community – local councillors and the Council of Mosques in helping secure a major review of practices.

Emotional meetings: The council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Cath Gormally said she hoped to provide reassurance.:Emotional meetings: The council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Cath Gormally said she hoped to provide reassurance.:
Emotional meetings: The council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Cath Gormally said she hoped to provide reassurance.:

Senior council and health partner officers accepted there had been failings and welcomed the Buying Our Care report, with recommendations over how services are commissioned – the council’s Cabinet is being asked to adopt these into policy.

Three months on, scrutiny councillors have now asked what steps to address those issues, that highlighted in earlier this year, have been being taken.

Coun Ann Kingstone (Lab, Skircoat) said she felt an increasing lack of confidence in the service doing what they said they were going to do and had been approached by constituents about their cases.

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“They are failing to answer the questions of those people whose cases were brought to them. I want action and I don’t understand why we are not getting action, and those people are not getting answers.

Coun Helen RivronCoun Helen Rivron
Coun Helen Rivron

“It looks like it is focused on the future but complaints brought now are not being addressed,” she said.

Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) said councillors expected issues to be addressed very quickly and Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) added that the board needed to hear from the people affected as well as officers and health and care partners when monitoring progress.

The council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Cath Gormally, said she hoped to provide reassurance.

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An action plan, co-produced by Nur e Sabil, had been put in place to tackle themes that appeared in the report, for example appropriate nutrition including halal and vegetarian food provided for those in care who needed it.

Coun Mike BarnesCoun Mike Barnes
Coun Mike Barnes

She said staff had begun pro-actively meeting families affected, including opportunity to meet them in their homes, and these had been “emotional” meetings.

“We are taking it extremely seriously.

“It will be better in the future, and the immediate future,” said Ms Gormally.

Actions pledged include nutrition requirements such as halal and vegetarian diets being recognised in people’s support and care plans and offered as a basic standard, a much more effective complaints procedure and much closer working with families.

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Speaking in March when the social care commissioning complaints were discussed by councillors, Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) said a working party had concluded that the council and NHS needed to use their considerable purchasing power to ensure services provided matched the needs of all Calderdale residents who used their services.

“We need to make sure that the cultural, religious and dietary needs of all service users are met – this work has focused on Muslim service users, but this requirement must also apply across the board,” he said.

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