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FUEL CRISIS - TRIBUTE TO LOCAL CARE STAFF

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Social services staff at all levels of their organisations were paid an unqualified tribute by ADSS president Jo Wi...
Social services staff at all levels of their organisations were paid an unqualified tribute by ADSS president Jo Williams for the 'calm and dedicated way in which the most vulnerable and defenceless were protected, reassured and made the highest local government priority' during last week's fuel crisis.

She went on: 'These were potential perilous times for social services users, although the extent of the peril would have been different between local authorities depending on the amount of their fuel reserves and their ease of access to petrol supplies.

'But no matter the extent of the emergency, we heard countless stories of advanced contingency planning, reassurance of elderly people living at home and cared for by social and home care workers, help and security for children with physical handicaps and a determination that services for them would continue no matter what.

'From bicycles in Suffolk, HelpLine numbers in Essex and many other authorities, gas-powered vehicles in Hammersmith and Fulham and Cambridgeshire and the close coordination with health colleagues in Wigan, the story has been of a marvellous effort liaising closely with all other relevant agencies, bringing the full resources of the local authority to bear in this emergency.'

ROUND UP - the following situation reports have been compiled from larger collection submitted by departments between Wednesday September 13 and Midday Thursday September 14.

Please contact local department direct for current position.

Salford

A council-wide contingency plan drawn up with all services reviewing their needs in the light of the shortage. According to council leader Bill Hinds: 'Our first priority is to protect the services - and those our contractors provide - for the most vulnerable in out city.'

Norfolk

Confident that plans would make sure that home care and transport services still reached the most vulnerable. Issued advice to citizens, nevertheless, to keep a friendly eye on neighbours and others, known to them, who might be in need of help.

Surrey

Working closely with other departments to ensure that essential services such as school buses and social services care - including transport for people with disabilities and home care services, are prioritised.

Poole

According to Brian Clements, council leader: 'Our priority at the moment is to make sure that those who are elderly or vulnerable continue to receive the care they need. I would ask the public to be good neighbours and if you know of anyone locally who might be experiencing problems, please check with them to make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need.'

Lancashire

Social services staff aimed to identify anyone who might be at risk in case regular social care services were discontinued due to the crisis. Non essential journeys were cancelled, day centres kept open 'for the most vulnerable and those who can make their own arrangements for travel'. Meanwhile steps were taken to ensure that meals-on-wheels clients who might be at risk were identified. Where no relatives,

friends or neighbours can be asked to help, the social services directorate would pull out all the stops to ensure some form of service maintained.

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Contingency plans put in motion, and a number of non essential services suspended. Crucial services, including the home care and the rapid response team - which goes into action to provide short term essential support people's homes - were given top priority. Fifteen diesel powered vans and cars hired to be allocated to home carers.

Kirklees

Executive director Dan Sequerra said that fuel supplies prioritised in order to support vulnerable people relying on vital social services, meals on wheels, school meals and waste collection. The situation reviewed on a daily basis.

Medway

The council promised it would continue with essential services despite the current emergency. The council sought to reassure it more vulnerable clients 'that they

will continue to receive their normal level of support from social services. Staff providing home services will continue to do so, and transport to social services centres continues to run.'

Birmingham

The city council prioritised meals on wheels, the assessment of people at risk, getting children to school, children's homes, day centre vehicles, home care to priority cases - the elderly, children and sick - among its vital services.

Stockton

According to Bob Patterson, director of finance, contingency plans had been drawn up alongside the police, fire and health services. 'We will be able to access supplies for social services and, in addition, we are working on contingency plans for other front line services such as elderly warden call, emergency repairs and refuse collection.'

Sheffield

Fuel supplies limited in order to give services to vulnerable citizens 'the highest priority.'

Leicestershire

The council's highest priority was 'to ensure that disruption to the authority's key services - in particular social services and education, was kept to a minimum.' Some day centre services were limited; all residential care homes were kept open while efforts were made to contact all users of the home care service that might be disrupted. A special Helpdesk Number was set up for social services users seeking

information.

London Borough of Barnet

Stressed they were diverting non essential services to essential services. Among social services tasks, the council continued transporting elderly people and those with disabilities to day centres, taking special needs children to school and providing meals at home.

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

Confident its own fuel supplies were adequate for a month, the borough said contingency plans were in place should the crisis deepen. Stressing the availability of electric vehicles to deliver the borough's meals on wheels (640 on weekdays, 450 at weekends), they said 'priority will be given to all frontline services such as meals on wheels.'

Suffolk

The county council reassured Suffolk people that they were 'working closely with health services and other agencies to ensure that essential services are maintained, and that priority is being given to customers in greatest need.' The county manager for home care services said the aim was to deliver as near-to-normal services as possible by reorganising our work schedules and asking home carers to share

transport wherever possible. We are telephoning all our customers to tell them what the position is and to find out any concerns they may have about other issues - such as family or carers not being able to visit.'

Although a fleet of social services vehicles was made available 'where possible staff are taking to other forms of travel, such as bicycles and trains, to ensure that customers still receive a service.'

Cambridgeshire

The county's 12 gas-powered vehicles were on standby for social services use to care for the most vulnerable or at risk.

City of London

Principally concerned with ensuring continuity of meals on wheels and planning for an escalation of the dispute should significant failures of public transport arise. In that case the full peacetime emergency plans (staff sleeping in the office etc) would be engaged.

Thurrock

Head of personnel praised the `positive' response from all the council's staff for having 'shown a great determination to get to work despite the difficulties.' Meals on wheels were being protected and the Thurrock home care services was reorganising its rota 'so that home care workers can visit people who live closest to them.'

Essex

The authority opened a Call Centre 'to allow anyone who has a priority need to deliver their essential service to get advice, and fuel for that purpose, if available.' Co-ordinated with health and other agencies. this was to ensure that the most vulnerable people were not put at risk.

Solihull

The council confident of maintaining all essential services for the immediate future, although 'the situation is being kept under constant review by chief officers.'

Wigan

Emphasised the closeness of its coordination with the health service within the borough to ensure that vital support services are delivered to those most vulnerable within the community and to avoid duplication.

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