Social work services in East Lothian continue to provide vital support for local residents in an increasingly challenging landscape, a new report highlights.

The Chief Social Work Officer Annual Report 2022-23, presented to today’s full meeting of East Lothian Council, underlines the important work of teams in assuring the safety and welfare of vulnerable children and adults across the county.

Lindsey Byrne, Chief Social Work Officer, explained the many achievements aimed at improving experiences and outcomes for people, which was testament to the commitment and resilience of the social care workforce given the increased demand for many services and referrals, both within East Lothian Council and the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership.

The report also details the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on citizens with whom social work services work to help live safely and independently as possible, as well as significant challenges ahead with the changing landscape of services and issues associated with the rising cost of living.

A number of achievements, ongoing priorities and areas for future development are identified.

Children’s Services

There have been a number of developments in relation to East Lothian Council’s Transforming Services for Children programme, which is focused on ensuring the best possible outcomes for children, young people and their families, and is underpinned by the principles of The Promise.

Much of the work across social work services is extremely complex in nature, compounded by issues such as recruitment challenges, resourcing and increased referrals.

Teams within Children’s Services have worked hard to support families facing difficult circumstances, with staff encouraged to think creatively and prioritise families  staying together when it is safe to do so.

Children’s Services have also placed focus on continuous improvement with actions to develop early support for children and families, embedding trauma informed practice and work ensuring robust, multi-agency support in the context of ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’.

Children’s Services continue to prioritise resources to help promote, recruit and retain foster carers, recognising the importance of this crucial resource in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and young people.

Work in relation to engagement with children and young people to ensure their voice is heard and to facilitate participation is also outlined in the report. For example, the Champions Board, which provides an opportunity for those with lives experience to influence service development and improvements.

Adult Services

Teams have seen an increase in the number of referrals, which is reflective of population growth in East Lothian, as well an increase in the number of people with more complex care and support needs.

Improved experiences were being provided in terms of assessment and increased service efficiency. Work had also been taking place to realise greater flexibility and simplified processes.

Successful partnership work with the third sector was also highlighted, such as through the East Lothian Community First Service, which helps to support people struggling with health and wellbeing and accessing community services.

There has been continued development of short breaks and learning disability services, while there has been an increase in adult support and protection activity.

Development of a new carer’s strategy is to be taken forward as a priority.

Depute Council Leader Shamin Akhtar said:

“Many residents across our communities rely on essential social work services. This report highlights the breadth and complexity of these, whilst shining a light on the many achievements of council and health and social care partnership staff.

“As mentioned by the Chief Social Work Officer, another period of significant change in East Lothian is ahead.

“Building on the effective working relationships which exist, as well as the collaboration which underpins positive outcomes, will help ensure that we continue to delivery high-quality, statutory social care services, in an increasingly dynamic and challenging environment.”

The full report can be read online.

Published: Tuesday, 12th December 2023