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Health and social care seen as ‘broken and in crisis,’ council report says

11 Oct 2022 3 minute read
Monmouthshire County Council offices. Photo by Jaggery, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Twm Owen, Local Democracy Reporter

Health and social care is seen as “broken and in crisis,” a report by a Gwent council has acknowledged. 

Social services in Monmouthshire, in common with others in Gwent and across the country, are struggling to cope with rising demand from those requiring care at home and to recruit staff. 

Jane Rodgers, Monmouthshire’s social care chief officer, presented her annual report to the authority’s scrutiny committee, which highlighted that, in some weeks during 2021/22, 2,000 hours of care at home was going unmet. 

Cllr Jackie Strong said of the figure: “That to me sounds a horrendous amount of care not being able to be provided.” 

Ms Rodgers said in response: “We feel that day-in, day-out in our teams. Not being able to provide the correct level of care at home does impact people’s choices.” 

She said the inability to provide care at home means some people are unable to leave hospital when they are well enough to return home. 

The council is also working on ways to provide more support within the community, by working with voluntary agencies, and is also trying to base its care teams in local areas to reduce travelling and so some carers can walk between clients so that providers can recruit non drivers to the roles.  

Volunteers who support people with tasks such as shopping or simply going for a coffee or with a phone call are also used by the council’s community teams. 

Similar problems impacting at-home care across Gwent have been highlighted in a report for the Gwent Regional Partnership Board, which brings together the area’s five local authorities and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, while in Torfaen the cabinet member for adult services has called for a rethink on how care workers are employed due to its inability to meet demand. 

‘Demand increasing’

The Monmouthshire report said demand on care has been increasing over several years and grown greater following the Covid pandemic and lockdown with people having been at home shielding. 

Committee chairman Alistair Neill said: “The report gives a description of a system that is broken and in crisis.” He asked if Ms Rodgers could explain to the committee the challenges faced by the service. 

The director’s report stated “the health and social care system is now described by many as ‘in crisis’ and ‘broken’,” Ms Rodgers told the committee “The system does feel at times in crisis”. 

But she said it was “important to understand how we organise the social care system” to meet the changing demands. 

The report is intended to give an overview of social services and also highlighted that while the number of “looked after children” in the council’s care had reduced from 213 to 208 more were on its risk register which was described as the council offering support and monitoring over a longer period. 

Ms Rodgers said the report, which will next be presented to the full council, not only acknowledged challenges facing the service but “honoured hard-working staff”. 

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