Tuesday, 30 June 2015

It’s been a busy week

There is a lot going on at County Hall at present, so I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few examples from last week so you can see what I get up to in my role as Leader of the Council.

For some months we have been looking at care provision for our older population in West Sussex. Predictions show that our county’s elderly population is set to increase over the coming years. By 2034, it is predicted that our over 65’s population will almost have doubled to what it was in 1994, to 273,000. And over the same period, our over 85’s population will triple to 59,000.

Obviously the complexity of a person’s needs also increases with age and again we need to take this into account when looking at our growing population. So for example, figures show that in 2012, there were 13,000 people with dementia in West Sussex. It is predicted that by 2037 this figure will rise to almost 27,000.

So you can see that care provision in the county now and for the future is a very important issue. The majority of people who are in need of some care and support as they get older want to be cared for in their homes and the County Council helps with this provision in many ways. However, as people get very old and frail, there is often a need for either residential or nursing home care.

The County Council has the responsibility for safeguarding and for carrying out the legislation as per the Care Act, so we want to ensure there is a strong care market in the county with all care providers giving really good and safe care provision.

On Wednesday we held our first Care Market Symposium with market providers, District and Borough Councils and Surrey County Council, as we all have a part to play in meeting the care needs of the population, and working closer in partnership is very much the way forward.

The feedback from the meeting was really good – this is just the start and also reflects the new way of working together with our local authority partners on some very important and difficult issues which very much fits in with our devolution offer.

On Thursday I was in West Chiltington where Pat Arculus, our Council Chairman, was holding a thank you reception for our Fire and Rescue Service specialist firefighters who are part of the UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team. This small team has undertaken highly specialised search and rescue training, and can be called at any time to join the UKISAR Team as they are on call 24/7 to help communities at home or abroad after a disaster.

The team went out recently to Nepal after the terrible earthquakes. The work they undertake is short in timescale but intensive by nature and very difficult. I am extremely proud of this team who at any time may be called away to help and assist those who are in very urgent need. The event was to thank not only this specialist team, but their families who are left at home yet support their loved ones.

After that event I went off to join a meeting of the Sussex Federation of Small Businesses. Our Council Procurement Team were at this event giving a presentation and handy hints to help small businesses tender for business with the County Council. This is really important as we want to ensure we are working closely with businesses of all sizes in the county. And I was delighted to receive a lovely glass plaque as an award for being the Best Small Business Friendly Authority for 2015.

On Friday morning I drove to Horsham to cut the ribbon and formally welcome Horsham District Council who are now co-locating at our Parkside Offices. It is believed that this is the first example of such a co-location and demonstrates we are working closely together for the benefit of the residents we serve.

Then on to Crawley to attend the Orchid View ‘One Year On’ meeting. Last year the Serious Case Review prepared a report with 34 recommendations which we and partners have been implementing throughout the year. We have worked closely with relatives who have very honestly shared their experiences, and rightly been clear that they want to do all they can to ensure that this never happens again in West Sussex or nationally, and naturally we share their concerns. One of the key points from the Serious Case Review is better sharing of information between partner organisations and considerable work has been done on this and other areas.

West Sussex County Council has a statutory responsibility for safeguarding both adults and children. I hope that anyone who has a concern would feel comfortable to contact our Safeguarding Team and discuss the issue as we do need to hear all concerns.

On Friday I was asked if I was confident Orchid View would never happen again – as a County Council I would like to assure you that we are doing all we can in our power to ensure that we minimise the risk.

Best wishes,

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