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Wales Online
Wales Online
Richard Youle

Domiciliary care services finally recovering in Swansea after three years of Covid pressure

The challenges facing domiciliary care in Swansea have finally begun to subside to pre-Covid pandemic levels, the council's director of social services said. David Howes said staff sickness levels were lower now than during the past three years, but he warned that adult social care still had a couple of tough years ahead because the NHS in Wales hadn't recovered.

"We are not of the woods yet," he told a council scrutiny panel. However, Mr Howes said the days of waiting lists for people in need of care, which is provided or arranged by councils, being 300% higher than normal were not being experienced.

"I am really pleased that finally we are seeing services recover to something like what we would expect ordinarily, albeit with a changed nature of demand," he said. "At least the numbers are back to where we would expect them."

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But Mr Howes said the improving picture was not being shared by the NHS in Wales, and that this had a direct impact on adult social care given the close links between and interconnectedness of the two services. A key element of adult social care is domiciliary care, which the council provides itself or commissions from the independent sector. Domiciliary carers help mainly frail, elderly people with things like hoisting, washing, dressing and going to the toilet.

Mr Howes also told the scrutiny panel that a shortage of registered social workers was a "significant issue", particularly in child protection. There was also an issue finding enough places in settings for children who couldn't live at home. "There are definitely capacity issues that are going to be very dramatic for the individual (child) impacted but the numbers are much smaller," he said.

A report before the panel about complaints said the council as a whole received 1,274 "stage one" complaints in 2021-22 compared to 1,171 the previous year, and 154 "stage two" complaints compared to 129 the year before.

The highest proportion of complaints - 345 - were about litter, waste and parks, but the figure was a lot lower than the 527 in 2020-21. There were 277 complaints about roads and transport in 2021-22, a further 260 about housing and public protection, and 115 about social services - nine more than the year before.

People who aren't happy with the outcome of stage two complaints can take the matter to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The ombudsman dealt with 71 complaints relating to Swansea Council in 2021-22, two fewer than the previous year. Fifteen of the 71 complaints were about planning and building control, there were 10 each about housing and roads, and seven about adult social services. Four complaints in total were upheld by the ombudsman.

The council also received 360 compliments from the public in 2021-22, including 96 about adult services. One of the compliments was from a man about the council's safeguarding team. He wrote to the employee concerned to say that his wife, who had been helped by the council, had died. The letter said: "You probably know but I still want to write to say that I will never ever find words to express my gratitude to you. Your help and support have been immeasurable."

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