Back in February of this year Carmarthenshire's county councillors were told of the upbeat assessment of social care in the county made by CSSIW (the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales) in its annual report for 2010-11.
A small team from CSSIW was on hand to guide councillors through the report, led by a smartly dressed woman who used a great deal of impenetrable jargon such as the need for triangulation of service delivery.
The chief executive, Mark James, and council leader, Meryl Gravell, were clearly delighted. In December 2011 the council chair, Ivor Jackson, brandished a couple of cut glass vases which had been awarded by Carwyn Jones to Meryl and some council officers for their contributions in the field of social care.
Not long after that, the BBC made a programme in its Taro 9 series, broadcast on S4C, which told a rather less happy story about abuse of vulnerable adults in a council-run day centre. The council was furious, and for reasons which remain a mystery, the Carmarthen Journal decided to run a lengthy summary of the CSSIW report (six months after publication) praising the council in the same issue which contained a brief letter from Delyth Jenkins thanking people for their support in the abuse scandal.
One week later and the CSSIW has had to intervene to close down a private care home for the elderly at Ferryside, near Carmarthen. You can read the story here.
It quotes a spokesperson for the CSSIW as saying that the closure was urgent, adding:
This is a very rare
action and one not considered lightly given the impact on service users
and the livelihood of staff and owners.
No doubt, more details will emerge in due course, but it seems that the home effectively went bust.
Carmarthenshire County Council has been trying to close several of its own homes for the elderly, and the chief executive and council leader made no secret of their anger and frustration when a few Labour and Independent councillors joined with the opposition to vote the plans down. The county council also has a duty to carry out assessments and inspections of privately run homes, such as the one in Ferryside.
Amid all of the significant improvements and progress reported by CSSIW, the agency noted,
CSSIW regulatory inspectors report that assessments in some care home inspections had been found to be out of date and did not reflect the current needs of service users.
Another of the council's responsibilities is to carry out assessments of elderly people when deciding what level of care they need. Here CSSIW noted,
The number of older people waiting for an assessment was not provided.
This point was questioned by a couple of councillors at the meeting in February, and it became apparent that the inspectors had not bothered to chase the council on this point.
More proof if proof was needed that the council's leadership is much more concerned with PR and news management than it is with the day-to-day reality of social care services. And more proof too that there is something seriously wrong with the incestuous, mutual backside covering which goes on between councils and agencies such as CSSIW, the WLGA and the Wales Audit Office.