Services for Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel

Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 March 2012

Tameside's Coat of ArmsCommenced: 4.00pm
Terminated: 5.25pm


Councillor R Welsh (Chair), Francis (Deputy Chair) 
Councillors Bowden, Cartey, Fitzpatrick, Fowler, Patrick, Peet, Sullivan, Wild

Mr Ahmed, Mrs Sharma, Mrs Aspin

Apologies for absence:

Councillors Harrison, Ward.

Mrs Gregory, Mrs Marsh, Mr Osmond

The Chair opened the meeting and received apologies.

39. Minutes

The minutes from the last meeting held on 7th February 2012 were approved as a correct record.

40. Tameside's Respite Service

The Panel welcomed Sheena Wooding, Deputy Service Manager, ISCAN, Tameside MBC; and Elaine Healey, Chair of Parents Forum to provide an overview of Tameside’s Respite Service.

The Panel heard how the council has been able to increase its short break service over the last three years with the Aiming High for Disabled Children Grant. In addition to this new legislation now requires councils to provide short breaks on a statutory basis.

There is a broad range of short break services in Tameside which allows children & young people to enjoy a range of activities. It also allows parents and carers to have a break from their caring responsibilities.

It was reported that there are a range of informal breaks at clubs and leisure facilities and more formal arrangements away from home respite, where a child will stay in a residential or family setting. Many short breaks can be accessed without a formal assessment.

There are activities and events taking place in Tameside everyday and most evenings. Many events are now commissioned through parent support groups, rather than private enterprise.

It was reported that parents now run some of the services that are available, contributing approximately 5,000 hours which significantly reduces the Council’s costs of service provision.

This also allows parents to have their say in the development of short break services which will directly affect their children. This can help provide a service that is more personalised and committed to meeting the needs of the children and their parents/carers.

The children accessing the short breaks will typically have a higher level of need. This can range from children with moderate to severe learning disabilities, autism or more complex health needs. The services are also vital to children with SEN whose parents may be ill or disabled and haven’t got the parenting capacity to meet their child’s needs all of the time.

The Panel were interested to know how the parents of children with SEN are made aware of the services that are available. Ms Wooding informed the Panel that details of the short break service is on the council website. Leaflets are also available in schools and other relevant facilities, parents can also be redirected from other clubs.

There are close links between the Integrated Service for Children with Additional Needs (ISCAN) and the hospital to inform new parents what services are available.

It was heard that the work carried out by the service has improved the links between parents and social workers. Parents are becoming more engaged with the range of services available.

Direct Payments

The Panel heard that Direct Payments form part of the Council’s short break service, following an assessment of need. The size of the support package can vary dependent on a person’s ability and also the willingness of a child’s parents to accept periods of respite. Work is carried out to approach parents and help them work towards benefiting their child in all areas.

Approximately 100 families are in receipt of direct payments. Packages can range from 4 hours per week to 15 hours per week.

Support is provided to access facilities, promote independence and social integration. The aim of Direct Payments is to provide support for children with SEN and their families, 70% of families in receipt of Direct Payments are using it for their child to gain support and attend activities.

Away From Home Short Breaks

The Panel heard that these short breaks are provided on a formal basis following an assessment of need. Social workers carry out the assessment following national framework for assessing children with need guidelines.

Boyds Walk Residential Respite Unit provides short breaks for approximately 35 children. There are 6 beds available and the unit operates 7 nights per week.

The unit can accommodate a spectrum of needs from behavioural difficulties to physical disabilities. The unit is comprehensively staffed due to some children possibly requiring one to one support. The range of stays can also vary from one or two nights a week upwards, this is dependant on personal circumstances and the level of respite required/desired.

The Panel were interested to learn more about the facilities at Boyds Walk Residential Respite Unit.

Resolved: The Scrutiny Support & Coordination Officer to arrange a tour of the unit and circulate the details to all Panel members.

Partnership Working

It was reported that parents are fully involved in the assessment processes and are able to contribute to their child’s assessment. This ensures that their needs as carers are identified and work is done to meet those needs.

A Parents Hub has been created at Jubilee Garden in Droylsden which helps to bring all parent groups together and it can provide understanding to parents about why certain decisions are made. Parents also sit on a range of strategic groups and are involved in delivering short break services on behalf of the council.

The social care team has developed strong links with child development workers and collaborative working takes place between ISCAN, special schools, council staff, parents and the SEN assessment team.

The Panel asked whether any parts of the services provided will be affected by changes to future funding and whether there are any areas that could be improved or made more efficient.

Ms Wooding and Ms Healey informed the Panel that parents are aware of the financial pressures that the council is facing. Certain cuts have affected services and work has been done by parents to continue delivering and increasing services that are available at a lesser cost to the council.

It was felt that current transport services provided by the council could be reviewed with potential costs saved. With the service experiencing a high level of parent involvement through the Parents Forum and other parenting groups, possibilities were discussed about part or all of the transport links to be managed and organised by parents.

The Panel highlighted that it would be beneficial to hear from Tameside’s transport service to understand how the service currently operates.

Resolved: Scrutiny Support & Coordination Officer to invite a representative from transport to provide an overview of the service at the next meeting on 27th March 2012.

The Panel thanked Sheena Wooding and Elaine Healey for their contributions to the review.

41. Local Government Act 2000 – Urgent Items

The Chair updated the Panel with findings from the SEN Panel meeting which was held on 29th February 2012.


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