Council embarks on major transformation of key services


Plymouth is about to see the biggest and most radical changes to the way local public services are delivered in the city since the local government reorganisation 16 years ago.

The Council’s Cabinet has given the go-ahead that will transform the way health, social care, adult learning and services for children and young people are provided.

Council social care services will be joined up with services provided by health, while new co-operative organisations will be set up that will enable people to have greater involvement in how services are provided.

The package of major projects, which are part of the Council’s major three year transformation programme, will mean hundreds of local authority and NHS staff will be working together in new integrated organisations.

The plans agreed by Cabinet include:

Joining up the delivery of health and social care services: Around 180 council staff will transfer to Plymouth Community Health Care in April 2015. Staff delivering services such as social care, occupational therapy, community care workers and back office support, will join health services staff delivering services such as district nursing, therapy services, mental health services and out of hours services to create one service, able to provide a joined up response to individual’s needs.

The aim is to enable people to stay independent for longer, only have to tell their story once, be able to access services that promote health and wellbeing or provide help in a crisis more easily and to have more opportunities to take control of their own health and wellbeing.

Joining the Council and health service teams responsible for commissioning – or buying – £400m of health and care services a year: If also approved by the North East Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body next month, this will mean that work to improve public health, to prevent illness and poor health will be joined up. This approach will ensure that universal services for families continue as now but additional services will be targeted where needed as early as possible which can improve outcomes along the course of a lifetime.

Taking a new co-operative approach to providing services for children and young people: The Council will work co-operatively with partners to ensure there is early help for children and their families that need support. The aim will be to provide support where it is needed, not just for children and young people, but their families and carers as well.

The Council will work with local healthcare providers and commissioners to join up services so clients and care professionals deal with one organisation with one contact.

This will be more convenient for families and service users and will also increase information sharing of information and reduce the risk of miscommunication between services.

The changes are also driven by the rising number of children needing a child protection plan. A greater focus on providing help at an early stage will potentially stop that rise by preventing situations from becoming critical and needing expensive, statutory responses.

The changes will also enable more help to be given to nurseries, child-minders, schools and colleges, plus community and voluntary groups as these all work directly with children and young people.

Creating a new community interest company to run adult and community learning services in Plymouth: The new company will be made up of City Council employees as well as the voluntary sector organisations, Shekinah and Plymouth YMCA. It will continue to deliver the existing adult and community learning services, providing skills for those who want help with developing their skills and using the skills of the voluntary sector partners to engage with vulnerable groups.

The aim is to create a seamless service for learners that will support the economic development of the city by improving skills and opportunities and increasing income that can be reinvested into community services.

Creating a co-operative to provide school meals to more than 20,000 Plymouth children. The jointly owned Local Authority Trading Co-operative Company will provide school meals which will be half owned by the schools and half by the Council.

The new co-operative has in part been prompted by a decision by the Government to move budgets for school meals, once held centrally by councils, to individual schools.

Cater-ed, as it is called, is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, different from other areas because it is a truly collaborative arrangement, working on the principle of ‘one school, one vote’. This means each and every school involved in the co-operative has influence over how it is managed and developed.

The move brings together the pooled budgets of 64 primary schools, five special schools and the Alternatively Complementary Education Service.

Public Health is already the responsibility for the City Council following changes introduced last year and from October 2015 the Council will be responsible for commissioning the Health Visiting Service.

Council leader Tudor Evans said: “These proposals will deliver one of the biggest changes to the way local services are delivered in a generation. We do not undertake change on this scale lightly. We are driven by a desire to do what is right for Plymouth residents by providing joined up services designed for the needs of the users, as well as the need to protect these vital services as far as possible from the Government’s massive cuts to our funding, which has seen more than £30m taken away over three years.

“We have done extensive work to ensure Plymouth residents will benefit from services delivered in these new ways. It means that from next year children, vulnerable adults, older people and those with learning or physical disabilities will receive services that are more joined up and focused on individual needs.”

Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “We are continuing to transform our services in Plymouth around the needs of our service users. We believe by bringing our services closer together with local partners such as health and the voluntary sector, we can provide a seamless service that helps some of our most vulnerable residents, from babies through to teenagers and older adults.

“This is about making services work better for people, so they don’t have to keep telling their story over and over again to different services or organisations. The aim is to ensure we deliver the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health said: “By working as a co-operative we are able to identify very early on the families who need extra help. We have record numbers of children in our care at the moment and we know that if we offer more help at early stage we can potentially stop that rise.

“This new way of working is a more joined up approach and will benefit families by only needing to tell their story to one service provider rather than repeating the same information to different people at different times while they are trying to access help.”