Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer’s first annual report highlights successes and challenges

Highland Council's new Chief Social Work Officer for Highland Council, Karen Ralston, has enjoyed a successful first year in her role.

Members today noted the 2018/19 annual report at the meeting of the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care committee.

The report highlights that Highland Council continues to, in partnership with NHS Highland, delivers high quality services as well as developing new approaches to caring for and supporting children, young people and adults.

Interim Head of Children's Services, Karen Ralston said: “Through the partnerships everyone is committed to making the Highlands the best place to grow up, live and prosper in.

“Communities remain at the heart of the collaborative approach and the Community Planning Partnerships have allowed for more meaningful contribution to local decision making.”

She added: “Social work and social care staff, including staff working across our Commissioned Services have, and continue to be dedicated and committed to providing support, care and protection to our most vulnerable children, young people and adults throughout the last year despite the challenging times.”

Children’s Services have benefited from access to the Change Fund, which has invested in Edge of Care Delivery in recognition of increased needs of families.

Karen added: “As Chief Social Work Officer I will continue to work alongside elected members and the Chief Executive Leadership team at putting people and communities at the heart of any decision making, planning and improvements. The voice and children, young people and adults using our services will be integral to this work.”

During the past year the following achievement have been recognised in social work and across social care:

  • The development of the ‘no wrong door’ approach to support children and young people on the edge of care
  • The increased portfolio of supported flats/accommodation for young adults
  • The provision of a new dedicated CAMHS service for care and experienced young people
  • The development of a suite of support services for care experience children and young people
  • The continued development of the CHAMPS board to strengthen the voice of care experienced children and young people through increased resource
  • The effective commissioning of third sector partners to improve both core services and early intervention activity
  • The continued development of the Highland practice model to ensure effective integrated children’s services across Education, Health and Social Care

Karen also acknowledges there have also been challenges including the unique demography of the Highlands.

She said: “Social work services continued to face a number of challenges due to significant demand and constrained budgets that impact on service delivery and meeting the needs of communities within Highland.

“Work has continued to be progressed in adult services, to continue the shift towards community-based provision.

“There have been increasing recruitment challenges regarding social worker and social care vacancies, particularly for posts in care at home and within children’s services, and posts in the more rural parts of the authority.”

12 Feb 2020
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