COLUMN: Rising to challenges of adult care in Lincolnshire

The pressures in Adult Care and Public Health in Lincolnshire have never been greater. Executive councillor Wendy Bowkett looks back at the year and shares an insight into Lincolnshire County Councils strategy for future to deliver stronger, more sustainable services.:

Executive councillor Wendy Bowkett
Executive councillor Wendy Bowkett

The county council’s annual general meeting took a look back at what we have achieved over the past year as well as a peak ahead into the future. My first year as portfolio holder for adult care and public health has not been an easy one with the continued pressures of the Covid pandemic.

Thankfully, the success of the vaccine means we are now seeing people returning to a more normal way of life. This highlights the benefits of teamwork and the support we’ve had from partners such as the NHS, SERCO, our social care providers, district councils and others.

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Before Christmas we concluded a major re-procurement for home care. Effective work between finance, commercial colleagues and nine care providers helped us secure a good outcome without disrupting services.

Following the successful launch of the Falls Response service, we also hosted a second Falls Summit with both NHS and voluntary sector partners. We are building on this successful partnership to implement a Strength and Balance Falls Prevention Programme, to stop falls from happening in the first place.

Professor Derek Ward, Director of Public Health (DPH,) took on the role of DPH for Greater Lincolnshire, to pilot a joint public health arrangement with North and North East Lincolnshire councils over the next 12-18 months. This shared approach aims to provide a better platform to tackle issues of health and health inequalities over the whole of Greater Lincolnshire.

I was delighted to support the opening of our first joint Extra Care housing scheme with the City of Lincoln Council at De Wint Court in Lincoln. Other schemes are planned across the county in the coming years, as part of our supported accommodation programme.

Adult safeguarding arrangements in the county have been strengthened through the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board prevention strategy, and our Team Around the Adult (TAA) initiative, helping people with complex needs, has been highlighted in national awards.

We’ve improved joint working arrangements with partners in the NHS with new agreements to integrate services for adults with learning disabilities or mental illness. And we’ve supported Lincolnshire CCG and LPFT with successful funding bids to the tune of £2.27m towards vital mental health services.

There are still many challenges – supporting NHS colleagues with ongoing pressures, tackling the impact of Covid and utilising technology to better support our more vulnerable, older people to live independently at home.

The government has published three White Papers – for Health and Social Care, Social Care Reform and Integration. We expect others to follow - for mental health and possibly in public health. This flurry of new legislation is sure to bring changes to health and social care so we will make sure that with partners, we are well positioned to deliver stronger, more sustainable services.