It has been a long summer with much going on in the Disability arena behind the scenes and this update is probably a little overdue.
Over the last few months we have seen a considerable amount of belated progress with the Disability Strategy and, indeed, political responsibility for the same being moved to the Social Security Minister, Deputy Judy Martin, although unlike Paul Routier before her she was not given overall responsibility for Social Policy (still a vacuum in the Government structure). To say she has hit the ground running would be an overstatement as other current priorities, including family friendly legislation and the summer recess has thwarted progress.
Led by Anna Hamon, the part-time officer overseeing the project, there have been some results (see copy of the minutes of the last Disability Strategy Delivery Group meeting here) with elements of the short-term priorities identified and worked on. More positively as you can also see monies have been included in the Government Plan 2020/23 (subject to confirmation through the States Debate in November) to establish more officer resources and cash to drive the more important medium and longer term objectives forward. Hopefully, we shall see this approved and if a dedicated Disability Officer is a post that is created we will again have a “go-to” situation in this critical area restored.
There has also been movement in Health and Community Services towards a new what is termed “Care Model” (see presentation here). This, essentially, internal departmental operating model has been launched publicly and HCS are currently engaging with as many organisations as possible to explain the direction of travel. The missing element in this as far as governance of the Department goes is undoubtedly the voice of the totality of the voluntary sector and more importantly the voice of the patient. This is an issue that has been vociferously raised with the senior officers (and indeed politicians) driving this forward. The views of the generality of the Disability Partnership on where they think we are and where they would like to see things go, against a background where Government ambition now seems to have reverted, if it ever changed, to backing more services into the broader community, both the voluntary and the private sector, thus limiting the size of the New Hospital, as and when decisions are taken on where and when it will be built.
This laudable ambition makes sense and seems reasonable, but there is one huge “elephant in the room” in that there continues to be a huge skills gap in the health economy not only within HCS but across the private sector, and certainly within the voluntary sector. In some areas things might seem to be improving (social workers, perhaps), but there is a continued shortage despite recruitment and training initiatives of quality care assistants, state registered nurses and a ticking timebomb in the provision of GP’s with many approaching retirement over the next few years. Again, this issue has been raised with the powers that be, but no conclusion on how we are holistically going to deal with this has yet been forthcoming.
This issue has also been highlighted with the Care Commission and especially with the Head of the Commission Glenn Houston and his newly arrived / appointed Chief Inspector Audrey Murphy, who are fully aware of the problems in this area. Other matters have been raised with them especially the complex nature of the demands for accreditation on trustees under the new Regulation of Care Law. Common-sense has prevailed and the Commission has adjusted to a more reasonable level the requirements imposed on trustees from the voluntary sector being reduced to a basic DRB check, a simplistic declaration (as per the Charities Commission requirement) that people are “fit and proper” and a short CV to explain their credentials in becoming a trustee of organisations. Detail concerning this should appear on the Commission’s currently-being-amended-website in due course. There is also an open invitation from Audrey Murphy for any organisation with issues re Care Regs and Registration to engage directly with her and her colleagues as felt appropriate.
One issue the Commission cannot deal with is the question of fees, which is a “political decision” and will form part of a new initiative to be raised directly with Government, both politicians and officers, in the autumn in which, perhaps along with other bodies, the JDP might play a part.
There are numerous other issues of relevance bubbling away but these might be saved for another day when fully discussed by the Partnership.
In order to achieve action across much of the foregoing we intend to hold Disability Partnership meeting shortly where we will endeavour to get a full range of speakers on these issues, so –
DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
WEDNESDAY 16TH OCTOBER, 5.30 FOR 6PM
MAIN HALL ST PAUL’S CENTRE
A full agenda will follow asap.
Jersey Disability Partnership