This is one of the findings in the 2002 Report of the chief inspector of social work services for Scotland published by the Scottish Executive*.
Other areas of the social work department's work that were commended by the report include -
-- the range of initiatives addressing the varying needs of young people who are looked after and accommodated by the council
-- the development of the protocol for managing sex offenders in the community, particularly as it was done through a joint working group of officers and elected members
-- enabling more people to remain in the community with support services such as increasing home care hours, almost doubling the amount of sheltered housing, providing community alarms on request to people over 75 living alone, and offering nursing home beds for respite care.
The report also notes some areas where further progress in the development of services is required. These include -
-- additional services for people with sensory impairments should be developed
-- various initiatives to be implemented to help children who are looked after by the council to achieve their potential at school
-- the council and its partners in the health services should build on the positive progress made in joint working on various aspects of community care, including the development of a strategy and related budget for shared services.
Councillor Harry McGuigan, convener of the Social Work Committee, said,
'We welcome this report by the Social Work Inspectorate as a way of independently monitoring our progress against national standards, and I am pleased that the report recognises the high standard of services we provide, particularly with people with disabilities and those with a learning disability.
'The report also notes that the national shortage of social workers is having an impact on the delivery of services in all Scottish local authorities, although in North Lanarkshire we have managed to increase our total number of staff through a major recruitment drive. We are already addressing many of the report's recommendations for future developments, including sensory impairment, children's services and joint working with the health service.
'This is a good and encouraging commentary on the progress being made by the department. Our emphasis will be on continual improvement in all service areas and to further forge and develop joint working with our key partners to secure the very bestoutcomes from sensible and practical use of our pooled resources.'
The report includes details of the amount of Grant Aided Expenditure spent on children's services and notes that North Lanarkshire Council spent less than other local authorities in the last two years. However, the services included in the figures for each local authority vary and the figure for North Lanarkshire does not include the funding for home care services for children and families.
* Growth and Development National Overview Social Work Services for the 21st Century - The Report of the Chief Inspector of Social Work Services for Scotland
SWSI Annual Report 2002 - National Overview
Growth and Development:Social Work Services for the 21st Century
SWSI Annual Report 2002 - Short reviews of local authorities