Joint Review report of Social Services released

Merton welcomes report

Merton Council has welcomed a government report into its Social Services that highlights the progress the department is making.

A Joint Review of the department was carried out between February and April 2002 on behalf of the Department of Health and the Audit Commission and a report has been published that sets out where Social Services is performing well and the areas that need greater focus.

Many services provided by the department received praise and the Review Team rated Merton as serving some people well with prospects for further improvement being uncertain. It recognises the improvements already made, and the improvements that are planned, and underlines the need for these improvements to be sustainable.

The Joint Review Team found a strong management team and staff who were confronting the need for change in the department, an impressive commitment to and awareness of the social care agenda by elected members and a commitment to partnerships that served Merton well. It identified that a good response had been made to being placed on Special Measures and recognised good cross party commitment to the department.

Merton’s key strengths included:

· MASCOT Community Alarm System
· Joint Investment Plans
· Housing Support Team
· Hospital Discharge Team
· Drug Action Team
· Listening to Children Scheme
· Drugs Services
· HIV/AIDS services
· Educational achievement of looked after children

The priorities for action included the need to:

· Develop user and carer participation and empowerment
· Promote independence and tackle the prevention agenda
· Ensure ongoing corporate and councillor support
· Continue to focus on Children’s Services in line with SSI recommendations

Rea Mattocks, Director of Housing & Social Services, said: “I welcome the report by the Joint Review Team and I thank them for the hard work during the process.

“The report itself is a snap shot of Merton’s Social Services during April 2002, and since that time, Merton has continued to make improvements.

“The Joint Review recognised that Merton had started its improvement process following the critical review into its Children’s Services which reported in February 2001 and resulted in Merton being placed on special measures. It acknowledges the work Merton has undertaken to date and recognises that this work is on-going and that Merton continues to improve.

“However, the changes and improvements we make must be sustainable and be able to deliver in th