Good first year for Ayrshire Out of Hours Social Work Response Service

The Ayrshire Out of Hours Social Work Response Service has made good progress in its first year of operation, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet heard this week.

The service was established in March 2012 after the three Ayrshire councils withdrew from the West of Scotland Standby Service in order to provide a more localised response to social work crisis situations which occur out-with office hours.

Based at Crosshouse Hospital and managed by East Ayrshire Council, the service has recorded some very positive statistics over the year such as 9,638 referrals from the Out of Hours service to day services. This is almost an 80% increase compared to the previous year from the West of Scotland Out of Hours Service.

During its first year, the service made 356 visits, again an 85% increase from the previous year. A particular benefit has been increased access to the service in the most rural areas of Ayrshire. A priority area for the service is child protection and over the year a total of 59 Child Protection Initial Investigations were completed. The service has also been able to provide ongoing support at weekends to families and vulnerable adults, reducing the need for admissions to care settings.

Another benefit of the service is its location at Crosshouse Hospital. A partnership arrangement is in place with the adjacent Ayrshire Doctors on Call who provide support in call handling when the Out of Hours service is busy and the location has also resulted in timely responses to Accident & Emergency and Ayrshire Maternity Unit.

Good working relationships have also been created with other services working outwith office hours including the Mental Health Crisis Response Team and Police Scotland.

Councillor Iain Linton, Spokesperson for Community Health and Wellbeing, said: “Having a joint service that is focused on the needs of Ayrshire residents has greatly enhanced the service and helped to ensure that the more vulnerable members of our communities are being helped when and where they need it. One of the most significant benefits has been the increase in access to services for communities in the south of both East and South Ayrshire Councils.

“Having the service staffed by experienced Social Work staff seconded from the three councils means that there is good local knowledge of the resources available and relationships are already established with day services which provides an additional element of mutual support and understanding across services.

“The service has developed and adapted well over its first year and is an excellent example of partnership working across all three Ayrshire councils. I congratulate everyone involved in the service and am sure that it will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Continuing in the partnership working vein, Cabinet also approved plans to develop a tender for an Ayrshire-wide Joint Equipment Service with North and South Ayrshire Councils and NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

This would mean that instead of each council providing equipment and minor adaptations to help people to live independently in their own homes, there would be a single service delivering the equipment which would cut out the need for dual deliveries or uplifts from the Council and NHS services. A good recycling facility could also be developed and a single store site could reduce running costs for each organisation. In addition, a single IT facility would allow for more efficient ordering and stock control.

Cabinet agreed that a negotiated tender with competition be progressed which will allow the partners to identify a preferred bidder to finalise a specification that meets their requirements.

Also agreed at Cabinet was the proposal to develop a Business Case for a joint Social Work Sensory Impairment Service, again in partnership with North and South Ayrshire Councils and NHS Ayrshire and Arran and also national and local voluntary services including RNIB and action for Hearing Loss.

The aims of a joint service would include providing a uniform service with the same high standards across Ayrshire and improving the outcomes for people who use the service.

With the incidence of sensory impairment within the Ayrshire and Arran region set to rise substantially over the next 20 years, this would be an ideal time to develop a business case which identifies the benefits and potential risks of a single joint sensory impairment service. The business case will be presented for further consideration by Cabinet in due course and it is hoped that a joint service could be established in April next year.

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