Social care Midlothian IJB’s ‘biggest challenge’

Thursday 4th July 2019

Midlothian health and social care partnership (HSCP) views providing social care as its ‘biggest challenge’, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission.

The local government spending watchdog commends the partnership for ‘taking action’ to address difficulties in residential and home care services by looking to in-house and voluntary alternatives.

They also find the partnership is on track to meet most of its adult health and social care targets.

Looking at the council as a whole, auditors warn the authority is facing the twin pressures of a £15m budget gap and a rapidly expanding population that is growing faster than anywhere else in the country.

Accounts Commission member Tim McKay says: "Midlothian needs to address the significant challenges it faces - the cumulative funding gap and the additional pressures from a fast-expanding population.

The council has a good record of working with its partners and local communities. This will help in supporting a medium-term strategy and transformation programme to get its finances and services in good shape for the future.”

Midlothian has looked to voluntary and in-house care services as an alternative to one of its private providers, which is facing ‘continuing difficulties in delivering the service it is commissioned to deliver,’ the report states.

Meanwhile, officials are considering building council-owned care housing in Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg, after a similar Penicuik project delivered results.

Cowan Court is a modern supported housing development that offers 32 homes with 24-hour support and includes the option of living with a partner, sibling, parent or child.

It supports older people who might have otherwise moved to a care home.

Elsewhere in the report, the Accounts Commission praised the partnership for an innovative GP-based project focusing on prevention.

Now operating at all 12 GP practices in the region, the Wellbeing Service offers locals a ‘good conversation’ with a trained practitioner who can offer them advice about broader life issues like money and family worries that can affect wellbeing.

Council leader Derek Milligan acknowledged the council, which funds the IJB, faces an increased funding gap and “significant” funding challenges.

“The council is aware of where it needs to improve and we are focused on working with our communities to meet our key priorities,” he said.

“The chief executive, corporate management team and councillors from across parties will be working together to make these changes and to take action to address the key recommendations set out in the Best Value report.”