Agenda item

Overview of signposting and accessibility to services

To present to the committee an overview of the signposting offer to the variety of wellbeing services that are available through the council to improve accessibility within Adult Social Care and Talk Community.


The purpose of this item was to present to the committee an overview of the signposting offer to the variety of wellbeing services that are available through the council to improve accessibility within Adult Social Care and Talk Community.


Opening comments were made by the Cabinet Member - Health and Adult Wellbeing about the expansion of services in the last twelve months and by the Cabinet Member – Housing, Regulatory Services and Community about the work of Talk Community with local partners and community groups.


The principal points of the debate included:


1.             Further to minute 36, paragraph 12, above and with a comment made about damp and mould in social housing, the Chairperson suggested that living conditions and associated health impacts in both public and private sectors could be considered as part of future work programming.


2.             It was noted that the report made reference to 67 Talk Community hubs (there were now 69) and 300 people a week were visiting across the hubs, averaging just over 4 people visiting each hub per week.  Acknowledging that some had higher footfall than other others, a committee member expressed concerns about the level of activity of some hubs.


The Service Director - Communities advised that: as the hubs were volunteer-led rather than commissioned, it was difficult to obtain accurate data (approximately 70% of the hubs had responded to a recent request for information); there was an intention to consolidate, identify gaps and develop the offer in view of the needs of the hubs and local communities; in terms of value for money, the maximum grant was £2,500 for infrastructure to support the delivery of a hub; and raising awareness was a priority, and there had been substantial increases in hits to the Talk Community website and in reach across social media platforms.


The Service Director – Social Care Delivery commented on the potential of the hubs model to inform the work of social care teams and enhance collaboration with Primary Care Networks and other partners.


The Chairperson commented that a strengths based approach necessitated creative solutions that work in a rural setting.


3.             The Chairperson commented on potential barriers for individuals to access services, including psychological distress and loneliness.


The Service Director – Communities said that Talk Community was about working with communities to build resilience and acknowledged some of the difficulties in identifying and engaging with hard to reach groups.  The Service Director added that there was the potential for some hubs to specialise in matters such as dementia, domestic abuse or poverty.


4.             With attention drawn to Appendix 3 of the previous report (agenda page 31 refers), it was noted that the summary of issues and challenges identified by the Community Partnership included ‘Access to Services’, with feedback referencing ‘Waiting lists, access to mental health services, GPs, pharmacies and dentists’.


The Corporate Director Community Wellbeing commented on: the relationship between waiting lists and capacity; issues in terms of recruitment, particularly given national shortages in some skills; and the need to look at different ways of delivering services.


5.             A committee member said that: the consolidation phase could consider the approach to high volume hubs and to the support provided to existing community groups; many people did not access the internet and would need help to access information and services; graphs used in committee reports should be clear and descriptive; and there was a need to make information available to self-funders and their families to enable them to make well informed and timely decisions to protect and prolong their health and wellbeing.


The Service Director – Social Care Delivery provided an overview of the conversion rates from newly processed community referrals and advised that questionnaires were in development in order to capture clients’ experiences of contact with services.


6.             A committee member said that the police should attend arranged appointments wherever possible and suggested that information from Talk Community should be in a format that could be shared easily through social media.


7.             A committee member commented on the need for a consistent way for councillors to make contact with housing officers and deal with issues in their wards relating to the main housing associations.


8.             A committee member said that there was a need to evidence the statement that ‘Talk Community has been evolving and developing for two years and is becoming better known and more routinely used and identifiable as a route to information and community support’ (agenda page 38), particularly given that ‘The proportion of people who use services who find it easy to find information about services’ had reduced from 70% in 2019/20 to 67.8% in 2021/22.  Concerns were also expressed about the activity levels of some hubs and about the perceived disconnect between events and activities provided during school holidays and the broader Talk Community offer.


The Service Director – Communities re-iterated that engagement through the Talk Community website and social media platforms had increased significantly, outlined ongoing efforts to raise the profile of Talk Community, and acknowledged the need to review branding.


9.             The Chairperson commented on: the risks of growing the resource ahead of the need, as disappointing levels of uptake could be disheartening for volunteers; the potential for a regular professional presence to provide support and stability to the voluntary workforce; the importance of having a social mix in events and activities; and how volunteering and altruism could provide health and wellbeing benefits for many individuals.


The Service Director – Communities advised that the Talk Community Development Team provided support to the hubs in a collaborative way and work was continuing on the concept of enhanced hubs which could include capital funding for additional facilities.


10.         With reference made to recommendation c) identified in the report (agenda page 33), it was suggested that the review of broker functions should also consider the relationship with social prescribing and recovery colleges.


The Service Director – Communities confirmed that the council was working closely with Primary Care Networks to review roles and functions in order to address local need and to maximise results.


11.         The Service Director – Social Care Delivery provided an overview of the formalised discharge to assess process from hospitals in surrounding areas.


12.         The Service Director – Communities confirmed that information relating to services for carers as available through Talk Community Directory.


The Cabinet Member - Health and Adult Wellbeing made concluding comments about the quality of the report, the opportunity to review and refresh the Talk Community programme, the requirement for business plans to come forward for enhanced hubs, and the value of engagement from ward councillors.  The Cabinet Member - Housing, Regulatory Services and Community added that further improving signposting and accessibility to services could have a transformational impact for residents.


With input from the Democratic Services Manager, the committee endorsed the five recommendations detailed in the report (with adjustment to recommendation c), and identified two further recommendations and a suggestion, as recorded below.




That the following recommendations be submitted to the executive:


a)           The committee note the signposting and accessibility to services for our customers and those who are being enabled to support themselves;


b)          The impact, outcomes and deliverables from Talk Community are noted with discussion on increased reach of signposting across the county;


c)           A review of the community broker and broker, social prescribing, wellbeing trainers and other functions to be commenced to ensure community opportunities are being maximised for all;


d)          The community offer is maximised to enrich the lives of people living with learning disabilities and all impairments;


e)           Further develop the Talk Community and promotion of community assets within the Primary Care and other networks including social care delivery;


f)            Provide/target advice to self-funders so that they are enabled to take timely interventions in connection to their own health and wellbeing needs;


g)          That information about those people with community referrals who do not need full care assessments to find out if: they followed up referrals; they received a service, and they found that helpful;


In addition to the recommendations above, the committee made the following suggestion: Council explores the use of its assets (e.g. Maylord Orchards) as a focal point for service hubs and service delivery.

Supporting documents: