WAGTackling Fuel Poverty in Wales - A major shake-up in the way the Welsh Assembly Government provides support for those in fuel poverty has been announced.  The National Energy Efficiency & Savings Plan aims to reduce Wales’s greenhouse gas emissions by making all parts of Welsh society more energy efficient. 

The plan includes:
* New rules for the home energy efficiency scheme
* Better, joined up, advice for members of the public on where to get help
* Support for small businesses to become more energy efficient
* Helping credit unions provide low cost loans for energy efficiency
* No more public investment in high carbon home heating

A key part of the policy is changes to the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) so that it helps the people who need it most.  The scheme currently only provides grants for heating and insulation improvements.

The Assembly Government is proposing to direct more help to people who are on a means tested benefit and live in a property that doesn’t have very good energy efficiency at the moment.  There are also proposals for closer work with credit unions to help them offer low interest loans specifically for energy efficiency measures.
Press release ~ National Energy Efficiency and Savings Plan ~ Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) ~ Energy Saving Trust Wales ~ WAG – Fuel Poverty

DHPass Plus scheme for Social Workers - Newly qualified adult social workers will soon be offered more support throughout their first year of practice, with a £4m injection of funding which will pay for a framework of support including:
* An opportunity for councils to apply for £1,000 to support each newly qualified social worker they employ in their first year, plus £1,000 for their supervisor for that year
* A personal development planning tool, outcome statements, a toolkit to support induction, a good practice checklist, tools to record & evaluate continuous professional development and post-registration training as well as completed examples of these

Adult social work departments are invited to apply to Skills For Care for their share of the funding, by completing a 'statement of intent' setting out how they will use the money by 31 March 2009.  Email NQSWproject@skillsforcare.org.uk for Funding forms .
Press release ~ Skills For Care – Social Work ~ Framework for Newly Qualified Adult Social Workers ~ General Social care Council ~ The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report

DHHopefully a change for the better - A new agency to ensure national mental health policies bring about improvements for patients & carers will start work on 1 April 2009.  The new agency - the National Mental Health Development Unit - will succeed the current National Institute for Mental Health in England.

The change follows a review of mental health service delivery, taking into account Lord Darzi's NHS Next Stage Review and the need for more personalised services.  From April, the ten strategic health authorities will oversee much of the regional & local delivery of new mental health policies, with support from the new Development Unit.

The Development Unit will continue the momentum in co-ordinating support for key mental health projects such as:
* improving access to talking therapies
* promoting equalities in mental health services for different groups, based on race, gender and age
* promoting social inclusion and social justice for people with mental health problems
* promoting well-being & mental health for the whole population
* supporting effective mental health commissioning
Press release ~ National Mental Health Development Unit ~ NHS Next Stage Review ~ Mental Health Network, NHS Confederation

HCLess able to negotiate the care system - The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), have published a joint report reviewing how councils & PCTs commission services on behalf of people with a learning disability.

The watchdogs conducted the review following a series of reports over the past decade that point to poor care for people with a learning disability, particularly those with complex needs.  This is the first review to focus specifically on how councils and PCTs commission services.

The watchdogs said that while improvements have been made to the way services are commissioned, the pace of change was ‘too slow’ and ‘uneven’.  They highlighted several concerns in the 9 areas reviewed including:
* Councils & PCTs do not adequately assess the needs of people with a learning disability, their families and their carers living in their local areas in order to properly plan services
* Under current guidance, all people with a learning disability should have a person-centred plan that involves them in decisions about their care. However, only a minority of services users have such a plan. Where they do exist, they are often poor.
* People with learning disabilities and complex needs experience problems in accessing health services
* Service users, families and carers say they feel their views are not always asked for, or listened to
* There is variable access to advocacy to support those people who are less able to speak for themselves
Press release ~ HC: The review, joint report, and nine area reports ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) ~ Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC)

HC/Monitor/DHShould Health Management be returned to Clinical Staff? - The Healthcare Commission has published an investigation report criticising Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust for significant failings in emergency healthcare, leadership and management.  The report states that there were deficiencies at ‘virtually every stage’ in the care of people admitted as emergencies.

Problems identified by the Commission included low staffing levels, inadequate nursing, lack of equipment, lack of leadership, poor training and ineffective systems for identifying when things went wrong.  It launched its investigation at the trust in March 2008 in response to concerns from local people and when it became clear that the trust stood out statistically in terms of the high death rates of patients admitted as emergencies.

Sir Ian Kennedy, the Healthcare Commission's Chairman, said: "When we expressed our concerns to the trust formally in May 2008, it responded positively and began to take action.  Our unannounced inspection of the A&E department in the last few weeks assured us that the service has improved. Our visit raised no immediate concerns about the safety of patients”.

Monitor, the Independent Regulator of NHS foundation trusts, following use of its formal powers to appoint a new interim chair & interim chief executive, has required the Board of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to take rapid & effective action which addresses all issues highlighted by the Healthcare Commission’s report.
HC press release ~ Monitor’s press release ~ Ministerial statement ~ Investigation into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust ~ Investigation into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust: Summary report ~ Investigation into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust: Terms of reference ~ Details of regulatory action taken by Monitor (click on Formal Interventions Tag)

ScotGovKeep them occupied and out of trouble - The Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have jointly published their shared vision for how antisocial behaviour should be tackled.  The Framework has been drawn together following a lengthy review of national antisocial behaviour policy and recognises that prevention and early & effective intervention should be at its heart.

The 4 pillars of the Framework are prevention, integration, engagement and communication.
Press release ~ Promoting Positive Outcomes: Working Together to Prevent Antisocial Behaviour in Scotland - Volume 1 ~ Promoting Positive Outcomes: Working Together to Prevent Antisocial Behaviour in Scotland - Volume 1: Executive Summary ~ Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) ~ Scottish Sports Futures ~ Twilight Basketball ~ CashBack for Communities scheme ~ CashBack recipients ~ Edinburgh City Youth Café ~ YouthLink Scotland

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