DASS Update: According to Peer Review Progress Not Even So-So” “

It’s now late summer and somewhat like this snifter of Courvoisier I have in my hand  we’re feeling fine and mellow at Leaky Towers and we’ve been musing  on how we’ve got to know each other very well now - so lets dispense with the formalities for the time being.

We may be members of the landed gentry but in the words of those good buddies Cameron and Brooks -"we’re all in this together" right?.  Therefore, you have special permission to henceforth refer to me by my first name Julian and my loyal and trusted Ladyship is quite happy to be called Justine.

 So, in the spirit of such bonhomie we’ve been trying to find out for you what Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services has been up to lately.

As you may know they’ve got a new Director - a certain Mr.Hobgoblinson or some such and they even have a plan -  "The Everything is Going To Be Nice & Lovely Plan" - so many wonderful,clever  ideas with timetables and pie charts and spreadsheets and outcomes and targets and so on and so forth (sorry correction - Justine has just whispered in my ear :” not targets dear ,targets have become very unfashionable ” - and as we know its all about appearances these days and if its one thing darling Justine knows about its  fashion  - there isn’t a day that goes by without her fingering her way through Vogue and its supermodels).

 So there I was thinking so far, so good until dainty Miss Verity just tiptoed in with a note on a silver platter.

 And oh dearie ,dearie me  it would appear that so much for DASS getting its house in order as the unbelievable news reaches us that the so and so’s at DASS are renewing contracts with a “care provider” who were heavily criticised in the notorious AKA report and who has featured prominently in despatches from Leaky Towers and horrifyingly in this particular story "A Grave Injustice."

 How so? I hear you cry?!  

Well apparently all those associated with Service Provider 10 has been given the all clear because the owner has been very upset about pranging the Bentley (don’t you just hate it when that happens?) and so all is forgiven apparently - and so - its business as usual and  they are now an integral part of The Everything Is Going To Be Nice & Lovely Plan  -   so break out the Bollinger boys and girls!.

 However as dear,darling Verity points out things are not as Oh So Rosy as it would  appears as there a few pesky social workers in DASS who are not very happy about this situation as it means they may be have to get into bed (if you’ll pardon the expression ) with a particular person associated with appalling practices ( I’m assuming that these “practices” which would be classed as criminal if perpetrated against you or I were never investigated properly by DASS/CQC or Police or as Ernest Eldritch, our earthy gardner puts it in his own inimitable style - “Seems they just couldn’t be fucking arsed sir, if you’ll pardon me for saying so m’lud”.

 So I suppose the question that disgruntled social workers should be posing is whether DASS managers or indeed anyone associated with the Council would be happy to have members of their family under the “care” of someone with a “bit of a rep" as once again Eldritch delightfully puts it

 And so - at this juncture I fear that all I can do is sigh deeply,adjust my monocle and commandeer one of Justine’s fashionista phrases and proclaim: ” OH DASS - this is SO VERY YOU"   

   READ MORE AT CBBC , sorry we mean CQC  has ANYTHING changed ?

Wirral and CQC

In 2010 CQC gave a damning appraisal of Wirral Council it stated training, management and knowledge were piss poor and prompted then Council Leader Jeff Green to say  “I am appalled ( he says that a lot)  at the findings of this report and I am deeply disturbed that some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral should find themselves so at risk and exposed.

“Protecting vulnerable people and keeping them safe is one of the most basic functions Wirral residents expect from its Council and whilst this inspection was conducted prior to the current administration being formed and the new Cabinet Member taking up his position; it now falls upon us, as a new administration, to put right what the CQC have exposed as so clearly wrong in the Department of Adult Social Services.

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure the leadership, management and performance of this Department is improved and that a new culture of openness, challenge and tackling of poor performance is put in place. Following very full and frank discussions, I have given the Director of Adult Social Services full Cabinet support, and a timetable, to take whatever action is necessary to turn this unacceptable and woeful performance around.”

So what happened next ……. ?????

Well not much

A former employee tells us all staff were given a Self assessment skills audit . They said “basically it was to say if you felt you had been well trained or not and had skills to do the job, most new staff didn’t  but the self assessment had disciplinary measures built in . Basically if you said you didn’t have the skills they would discuss disciplinary measures and “exit strategy” (euphemism for the sack!) Staff were worried and given this heavy handed approach it would be difficult for many to be honest.  So if you didn’t fill it in you were disciplined if you said the training hadn’t equipped you for the job there was the threat of the sack. But if you are a new member of staff, if you say you ARE adequately trained and able to do the job ( when in reality you weren’t)  and something awful happens to a vulnerable person, you have no defence, because  D.A.S.S. management would say “Not our fault - you signed this to say you could do it, no liability on our part BYE” .  Seemed like you couldn’t win and staff were being threatened for being badly equipped and poorly trained to do a very difficult job”

Wirral Leaks have seen the documents which do indeed have disciplinary measures in built and have a scoring system which in some way appears to replicate the Councils redundancy policy scoring. Highlights include

·         Some staff did not have the required level of knowledge, skills or experience to do their job well.

·         Where capability/performance issues identified agree plan of action, which may include formal capability/disciplinary action.

·         Some staff may wish to discuss with their Manager/Principal Manager and Head of Branch if there is an opportunity to exit the department’s employment in line with council wide agreed procedures

The document has a covering letter From DASS branch manager Rick O’Brein which states

“As you will know following the recent Care Quality Commission Inspection, their report identified a number of issues relating to the workforce with regard to skills and competencies.


The Report went on to say that the work of front line staff and managers in fieldwork services needed to improve in standard and quality, to support people with complex needs.  The department needed to secure the effective deployment of expertise across all its frontline teams to raise the quality of safeguarding work and assessment of mental capacity.


A process has been devised which I believe will allow us to move to a position to support more fully the staff in those front line teams to be capable, skilled and committed to ensure that the areas identified within the report as well as the delivery of outcomes for people who use services, are improved.


This is a three stage process to identify and benchmark where staff currently are, in terms of their capability, knowledge, behaviour and commitment to deliver. The process has three stages.


Stage 1 – Self Assessment (to be completed by all staff)

Stage 2 – Management/Leadership Verification

Stage 3 – Improvement/exit strategy


One of the outcomes of this process is that any identified gaps will be covered by inclusion in an updated Training Plan for 2011/12.



The paperwork and process has been shared with the trade unions and UNISON were able to attend one of the four staff focus groups which have taken place to enable people to consider the process and go through the paperwork in detail. A number of suggestions/ alterations were made, many of which have been incorporated into the papers attached



Have a look for yourself and weep

Staff Self Assesment Skills Audit

Managers Self Assesment Skills Audit