In 2010 CQC gave a damning appraisal of Wirral Council it stated training, management and knowledge were piss poor and prompted then Council Leader Jeff Green to say “I am appalled ( he says that a lot) at the findings of this report and I am deeply disturbed that some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral should find themselves so at risk and exposed.
“Protecting vulnerable people and keeping them safe is one of the most basic functions Wirral residents expect from its Council and whilst this inspection was conducted prior to the current administration being formed and the new Cabinet Member taking up his position; it now falls upon us, as a new administration, to put right what the CQC have exposed as so clearly wrong in the Department of Adult Social Services.
“We will do whatever it takes to make sure the leadership, management and performance of this Department is improved and that a new culture of openness, challenge and tackling of poor performance is put in place. Following very full and frank discussions, I have given the Director of Adult Social Services full Cabinet support, and a timetable, to take whatever action is necessary to turn this unacceptable and woeful performance around.”
So what happened next ……. ?????
Well not much
A former employee tells us all staff were given a Self assessment skills audit . They said “basically it was to say if you felt you had been well trained or not and had skills to do the job, most new staff didn’t but the self assessment had disciplinary measures built in . Basically if you said you didn’t have the skills they would discuss disciplinary measures and “exit strategy” (euphemism for the sack!) Staff were worried and given this heavy handed approach it would be difficult for many to be honest. So if you didn’t fill it in you were disciplined if you said the training hadn’t equipped you for the job there was the threat of the sack. But if you are a new member of staff, if you say you ARE adequately trained and able to do the job ( when in reality you weren’t) and something awful happens to a vulnerable person, you have no defence, because D.A.S.S. management would say “Not our fault – you signed this to say you could do it, no liability on our part BYE” . Seemed like you couldn’t win and staff were being threatened for being badly equipped and poorly trained to do a very difficult job”
Wirral Leaks have seen the documents which do indeed have disciplinary measures in built and have a scoring system which in some way appears to replicate the Councils redundancy policy scoring. Highlights include
· Some staff did not have the required level of knowledge, skills or experience to do their job well.
· Where capability/performance issues identified agree plan of action, which may include formal capability/disciplinary action.
· Some staff may wish to discuss with their Manager/Principal Manager and Head of Branch if there is an opportunity to exit the department’s employment in line with council wide agreed procedures
The document has a covering letter From DASS branch manager Rick O’Brein which states
“As you will know following the recent Care Quality Commission Inspection, their report identified a number of issues relating to the workforce with regard to skills and competencies.
The Report went on to say that the work of front line staff and managers in fieldwork services needed to improve in standard and quality, to support people with complex needs. The department needed to secure the effective deployment of expertise across all its frontline teams to raise the quality of safeguarding work and assessment of mental capacity.
A process has been devised which I believe will allow us to move to a position to support more fully the staff in those front line teams to be capable, skilled and committed to ensure that the areas identified within the report as well as the delivery of outcomes for people who use services, are improved.
This is a three stage process to identify and benchmark where staff currently are, in terms of their capability, knowledge, behaviour and commitment to deliver. The process has three stages.
Stage 1 – Self Assessment (to be completed by all staff)
Stage 2 – Management/Leadership Verification
Stage 3 – Improvement/exit strategy
One of the outcomes of this process is that any identified gaps will be covered by inclusion in an updated Training Plan for 2011/12.
The paperwork and process has been shared with the trade unions and UNISON were able to attend one of the four staff focus groups which have taken place to enable people to consider the process and go through the paperwork in detail. A number of suggestions/ alterations were made, many of which have been incorporated into the papers attached
Have a look for yourself and weep