Agenda and minutes

People Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 16th December, 2022 1.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Beth McGhee  Senior Policy and Scrutiny Adviser


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 437 KB

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26.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2022 as a correct record and agree the recommendations made at the meeting.



Apologies for absence

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27.1     Apologies for absence were received from Ms Nicola Boulter and Mr John Hayling, Parent Governor Representatives, and Councillor Carl Maynard, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Health.


27.2     Councillors Charles Clark, Kathryn Field and Trevor Webb were not present in the Council Chamber but joined the meeting via Microsoft Teams. They participated in the debate but did not vote on the items under discussion.



Disclosures of interests

Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.


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28.1     There were none.


Urgent items

Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.


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29.1     There were no urgent items.


Scrutiny Review - Use of Digital and Technology in Adult Social Care and Health pdf icon PDF 380 KB

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30.1     The Chair of the Review Board, Councillor Penny di Cara, introduced the Review Board’s report on the findings and recommendations of the Review. The Review Board was established by the Committee in July 2022 to look at the Department’s plans to encourage more people to use digital and self-service methods when they contact and transact with the Department, and use its services. The Review had looked at the digital services currently in place in ASCH, the extent to which they were used and cultural and behavioural changes that could lead to greater use of them, focusing particularly on the service areas of financial assessments; reviews (especially carer reviews); information, advice and signposting; and carer assessments.


30.2     Overall, the Review Board were impressed by the work underway and the balanced approach the Department was taking to increasing the use of digital and self-service options. While the Department knew there were benefits to increasing digital options, the Review Board was reassured to hear that alternative options and routes for contacting the Department (e.g. via phone or in person) would remain for those who needed them. The Review Board found the Department was adapting and improving its approach to use of digital and technology in response to feedback and consideration of best practice. The Review Board had made recommendations that were practical, built on the good work underway, and were focussed on supporting increased use of the Department’s digital offer.


30.3     Councillor Wendy Maples, Member of the Review Board, added that the Review Board had considered both the theory behind, and practical examples of, behavioural change as part of the Review; and that the final recommendation - that the Department explore the benefits of introducing a digital ambassador scheme - was an opportunity for the Department to explore the value of a practical approach to encouraging behaviour change. Councillor Nuala Geary, Member of the Review Board, also commented in support of the work taking place that the Review had heard about. The Review Board thanked all the witnesses for their contributions and officers for all their work on the Review. 


30.4     The Chair thanked the Members of the Review Board for their work and the introduction provided. The Committee welcomed the report and, in discussing it, asked questions and made comments on the following areas:


·                     Assistance with using digital platforms – a question was asked on what support (e.g. coaching) was available for users who may be new to, or less familiar with, digital services. The Director of Adult Social Care and Health responded that while it may be possible to incorporate an element of support with using the Council’s digital applications into visits to people with care needs who were known to the Council, the Department would also need to look at how it could draw on broader offers for improving digital literacy, including from other services and agencies. The Assistant Director Planning, Performance and Engagement added that the Department would continue to work closely with the One Council Digital Inclusion  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 393 KB

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31.1     The Chair of the Committee introduced the report which outlined the Committee’s latest work programme, and included a summary of the work of the Loneliness and Resilience Reference Group.


Loneliness and Resilience Reference Group update

31.2     The Chair of the Reference Group, Councillor John Ungar, introduced the summary of the Group’s work appended to the report. The Reference Group had been formed to consider a project on loneliness and isolation, which had been led by ESCC Public Health but delivered in partnership with partners across local government, health and the voluntary and community sector, recognising that loneliness and social isolation were complex and systemic social issues that could not be addressed by one agency alone. Collaborate Community Interest Company (CIC), a social consultancy and research organisation, were commissioned to support the project, developing the evidence base and identifying opportunities to mitigate loneliness and its worst effects.


31.3     The Reference Group had met four times across 2021/22 and inputted into the project as it was planned and delivered. The outcome of Collaborate CIC’s work was two detailed reports on insights and recommendations for a systems approach to addressing loneliness in the County, which the Reference Group had considered in detail and could be made available to other Members of the Committee on request. At the latest, and final, meeting of the Reference Group it had been confirmed that funding had been allocated to establish a System Stewardship Group, as a first step to responding to the other recommendations of the Collaborate CIC report. This would build on existing partnership work to ensure there was system-wide responsibility to tackle loneliness. ESCC would lead on convening the Stewardship Group on behalf of partners, with focussed planning to establish the Stewardship Group commencing in the new year. An interim evaluation of the Group and its work was planned to take place in December 2023, followed by a final evaluation in December 2024-March 2025. The Reference Group requested an update report back to the March 2024 meeting of the Committee, following the interim evaluation. 


31.4     The Chair of the Reference Group welcomed the work that had taken place, noting how positively Public Health had worked to find ways to tackle this issue. The Director of ASCH responded, thanking the Reference Group for its work on what was a very important issue, and which had impacts on people’s health and wellbeing and demand for social care. The Director noted that the membership and scope of the Stewardship Group was to be determined when concerted planning got underway in the new year.


31.5       The Committee discussed the update and commented on the following area:


·                     Role of poverty – it was suggested that the role of poverty needed to be considered in this work as people on lower incomes, or facing increased financial pressures from the rising cost of living, would increasingly struggle to take part in paid social activities, such as visiting a café or pub, which could increase social isolation and loneliness. The Director responded  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.