Important changes to Dundee and Angus Out-of-hours Social Work Service

DUNDEE health & social care partnership-logo.jpgIt is important that all referral agencies note the following changes to Dundee and Angus Out-of-hours (OOHS) Social Work Service and ensure this information is shared with all staff who might refer to the service.

Under the new arrangements Dundee and Angus OOHS Social Work Service night time working arrangements will see coordinators only respond after 2 am in the event of urgent crisis, where social work input is required to assess or take action concerning potential or imminent risk of harm.

The OOHS coordinator will go home at 2 am but will still be available on a standby basis until 8.30 am. The coordinators will have remote access to the usual systems which means that they can undertake the same checks as if they were in the office.

Dundee and Angus Out-of-hours Social Work Service can be contacted on 01382 307964. The answering service will direct callers to press a number if they need to speak directly to a coordinator regarding a matter which meets the threshold for such contact during the hours of 2 am and 8.30 am.

In addition, the public or referral agencies will be able to leave messages for non-urgent matters on this answering service and these will be responded to from 8.30 am.

These changes are as a result of the service audit and review of Dundee and Angus OOHs Social Work Service which made recommendations to improve efficiency and service improvements. Reasons for this included the year-on-year increase in demand for services and changes to the nature of referrals, particularly concerning support for adults.

There were a number of action points from the audit including a need for a review of contingency arrangements and the review recommended changes to the existing working arrangements for staff in the service.

The review highlighted that only occasionally were OOHS coordinators needed to respond to urgent crisis between the hours of 2 am and 8.30 am. It was agreed that the service would have a coordinator available during that time but on a standby basis only.

OOHS coordinators manage the shifts in the OOHS Social Work Service and are the service’s most senior and experienced social workers.

The service review considered it would be more efficient to have these experienced coordinators more frequently available at periods of highest demand. Evidence was provided that the periods where there was the greatest demand for a social work response to risk were during evenings and weekends.

It was noted that the OOHS Social Work Service frequently struggled to respond to all requests for support during those times.  However, there was evidence that night shifts, particularly after 2 am, were generally periods where there was significantly less demand for a response to urgent risk concerns.

As the coordinator on standby will already have worked a 10-hour shift the previous evening, it is imperative that all referral agencies only contact the OOHS Social Work Service coordinator between 2 am and 8.30am when it is absolutely necessary.

This service review was also informed by the Council’s need to examine expenditure levels and ensure that public money was and is being spent in line with efficient service delivery.

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