Life in the spotlight


Our latest deputy blog post by Dennis Holmes, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care Services, reflects on recent successes in our efforts to provide the best health and social care services.

A month or so ago, Leeds basked in the glow of early summer sun and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.  The national, nay, global spotlight was upon us.  Leeds did a fantastic job in hosting the biggest event ever to hit the city.

The start of something special

Yorkshire looked brilliant as it became, for a week, the UK’s number one tourist attraction.  Crowds of onlookers flocked to see the race flash by and share the moment. I was one of them and it was amazing!

That was then, now all the talk is of ‘legacy’, maintaining the momentum and ensuring the city doesn’t let the opportunity to build on this amazing event slip through our fingers.

When I was attempting to manoeuvre my way through the crowds  that packed Saturday morning, it occurred to me that our Adult Social Care journey over the past year or so has been like Le Tour in some ways.

We have had a great twelve months.  Starting with Sandie Keene becoming the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ President in the year the Care Bill was going through parliament.  Leeds began to feel the warmth of the spotlight as she began to deliver her first TV and radio interviews, rapidly becoming a fantastic ambassador showcasing our successes on the national stage.

Meanwhile, we were creating the build-up to our own social care Grand Depart in the concerted, sometimes frenzied work colleagues were doing in our application to become a Pioneer City for integration between health and social care services.  Our work with the voluntary sector was becoming nationally recognised for progressive developments in delivering social care through social prescribing and third-sector commissioning.  We have signed up to become a dementia friendly city, now recognised by the World Health Organisation, no less!

Shortly after The Department of Health announced we were indeed a Pioneer city, we were also informed we had been selected as an Exemplar Authority to help with the national process to unravel the intricacies of the Better Care Fund (BCF) by ‘fast-tracking’ the BCF in Leeds to help other health and social care communities see how it could be done.

Big Society Capital chose Leeds to launch its first £1m investment in social care services; that got big media coverage in the Guardian and recently we featured on Newsnight in a feature about how our staff organise dignified funerals for people who die alone with no-one else to sort out their affairs.

Alongside all that, ministerial and shadow ministerial visits came and went.  Westminster and Whitehall were keen to see what makes this pioneering, exemplar, fast tracking, progressive city ‘tick’, to the extent that we are globally recognised!  That’s when it hits home that Leeds’s success is being noticed!

But, like the Tour de France, the trick now will be not only to maintain our position in the limelight, but also to give it substance.

It’s too easy to believe the hype, too easy to bask in the limelight.  That’s why, to maintain our position, we must turn to our greatest critics – ourselves – to ensure our good reputation is well-deserved and terms applied to us such as ‘pioneer’, ‘exemplar’  and ‘progressive’ ring true.

We will know that our innovations are sustainable when we can put our hands on our hearts and know that we can back our reputation with solid evidence.  I’m the first to admit, it’s fun being in the limelight.  But I think you’d agree it’s far more satisfying to know that any improvements we’ve made are built to last and that they make a real difference in the life of our city.

Until next time…

Dennis Holmes

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Looking out for carers in the Care Act


In my second post on the Care Act, I start with a reminder that the Government has only just finished consulting on the many pages of draft regulations and guidance and will use this feedback to finalise information to be published in October.

So I thought I’d talk about what we are contributing from a Leeds perspective.

Recently, a team which consisted of council staff, voluntary sector and Healthwatch Leeds, attended a Department of Health Yorkshire and Humberside regional event to contribute feedback. You may have also seen Dr Paul Kingston (Independent Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Board) posted on this blog and talked about the safeguarding element of the consultation.

Well, we have not tried to ‘eat the elephant whole’ as it were and are mindful that the final guidance still needs to be provided. We must remember that the Care Act (2014) represents a generational change in the Care and Support law which dates back to the National Assistance Act (1948). For the historians out there, this Act established the welfare state and abolished the Poor Laws!

So, our approach has been to firstly identify the priorities;

  • Carers, Assessment and Eligibility
  • Advice and Information and
  • Information and Technology.

One of the most important areas of reform in the Act, and very much welcomed, is the strengthening of carers rights to both assessment and entitlement to services. In my last post, I talked about the unifying principle of wellbeing in adult social care, this also includes carers. From 1st April 2015, for the first time carers will be legally entitled to support.

We are working closely with key partners (such as ‘Carers Leeds’) to help us deliver the ambition set out in the reforms and pinpoint what will be different.

In Leeds, 71,600 carers provide unpaid support and it is estimated that 1.5 million hours of unpaid care is provided across the city. 57.8% of unpaid carers are female and 42.2% are male which reflects the national picture. Clearly the legal entitlement to assessments and resulting services through care packages for carers is welcomed, and the reforms will have a significant impact on the city.

So, working with ‘Carers Leeds’, we will need to establish a Leeds Carers Offer which will:

  • address their right to an assessment if carers appear to have need for care and support;
  • re-consider how we provide advice and information in an accessible way;
  • consider the needs of young carers in transition to adulthood;
  • review advocacy arrangements and
  • consider how we will ensure that carers are able to exercise choice and control through personal budgets.

Hopefully, this gives you a sense of scale and complexity of the reforms. And remember, all this must be in place by 1 April 2015.

I must also add that since my first update, I have presented reports to Council and the Health and Wellbeing boards and a number of common themes are emerging. The first is that there is a lot work that still needs to be done in terms of estimating the cost of reforms (set against some real concerns here in Leeds and nationally that the cost has been underestimated as well as unfunded). The second is that we need to continue to work with our health partners in our city because the Care Act is not just about adult social care services but about how we can work together to create an Integrated Leeds Offer.

Thanks for reading.

Sukhdev Dosanjh.
Chief Officer for Social Care Reforms.

Posted in Carers, Health and Wellbeing, Independence, Information, Legislation, Safeguarding, Transforming care services, Working together | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking about safeguarding adults

Dr Kingston

As part of the Government’s ‘Making sure the Care Act works’ consultation, an event was recently held in Leeds bringing together key professionals across the city to discuss various elements relating to safeguarding adults.

We asked Dr Paul Kingston, independent chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Board to talk to us about the event.

This is quite timely with the recent launch of a safeguarding adults campaign in Leeds.












The event was on the safeguarding adult’s elements of the draft Care and Support Statutory Guidance, issued to accompany the Care Act 2014.

Continue reading

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Better Lives Lived












Better Lives Lived is Leeds City Council’s Adult Social Care local account document which gives examples through real-life stories and feedback from communities and service providers of how people maintain their independence and have an improved experience and increasing choice.

Tracey is just one of the people featured.

“I know strength has to come from within me but I’ve needed help to feel that way. Being here has made me feel like someone – like a real woman, not just a statistic.”

Tracey, Transitional Housing Unit. Continue reading

Posted in Autism, Dementia, Mental Health, Health and Wellbeing, Social Isolation, Choice, Personalisation, Carers, Independence, Safeguarding, Working together, social enterprise, Nutrition, Transforming care services, Information, Achievement, Learning disablity, Active ageing, older people, volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holt Park Active – don’t take my word for it… here’s what Doreen thinks!

Doreen, a service user at Holt Park Active

Doreen, a service user at Holt Park Active

Today we’re talking to Doreen, a service user from Holt Park Active and a former user of Naburn Court and Doreen Hamilton day centres, to find out what she thinks of the new centre. Continue reading

Posted in Achievement, Health and Wellbeing, Independence, older people, Social Isolation | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holt Park Active – seven months on.

Artists’ impression of Holt Park Active

Artists’ impression of Holt Park Active

Holt Park Active was hailed as a new and exciting idea. In fact, it was described as a different sort of centre, aimed at giving a much wider range of opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to be active, to socialise, and to learn new skills. When I thought about Holt Park Active, the image that popped into my head was of a typical sports centre or gym, full of sweaty people with towels around their necks or of an old style nursing home with faded carpets and curtains. How wrong was I! Continue reading

Posted in Achievement, Health and Wellbeing, Independence, Learning disablity, Mental Health, older people, Social Isolation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Councillor Ogilvie says “au revoir” to Le Grand Depart

The Black Prince in City Square wearing his yellow jumper knitted by the ladies from Holt Park Active

The Black Prince in City Square wearing his yellow jumper knitted by the ladies from Holt Park Active

Well it maybe “au revoir” to Le Grand Depart which graced our streets a few weeks ago but I thought it might be worth reflecting on this once in a lifetime event from a social care/health perspective and what the legacy from the event could be.

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone across the sector who in the weeks and months prior to the Tour coming to Leeds and Yorkshire worked tirelessly to make sure care services in the city, particularly for those living on or near the route were maintained as much as possible. I know that this required a lot of extra work for people on top of “the day job” and I’m sure at times caused some frustrations and sleepless nights. However, I hope from the reaction of people in Leeds, as elsewhere in Yorkshire, who came out in their hundreds of thousands to see the spectacle, all that effort was worthwhile. Over the weekend of the Tour, staff in Adult Social Care and Public Health alongside colleagues in the health service worked tirelessly to make sure services were maintained for service users. And providers of care services such as homecare organisations went the extra mile to make sure their clients were not inconvenienced either.

I went to meet the group of older people from Holt Park Active who had knitted the yellow top for the Black Prince in City Square, as their handiwork was being fitted to the statue. Likewise, the ladies from Holbeck Elderly Aid, who I joined for a cup of tea at their impromptu tea party in City Square, who were rightly very proud of their crocheting of a top for one of the nymphs.

The city centre was abuzz the whole day with all kinds of activities taking place and people of all ages enjoying their city centre together. It made me think however about the issue of how friendly and accessible our city is, particularly the city centre and if one legacy of the Tour could be to strive to making our city more accessible for those who currently do not find it to be so, whether they be older people, people with disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory impairments or mental health issues.

This was very much the basis of the discussion and requests at the Learning Disability take over day of the Council Chamber kicking off Learning Disability week in June. Here we heard loud and clear about the barriers people with learning disabilities face in terms of transport, employment and being able to fully socialise in their city. Subjects that the new Leeds Learning Disability People’s Parliament will be pursuing and seeking real action.

It was also behind the paper I took to the Council’s Executive Board a couple of weeks ago about Age Friendly Leeds. We’ve been accepted as one of only seven UK members of the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly City Network and the paper highlighted a checklist of measures/areas for improvement the city will have to make if we are to be truly Age Friendly. It’s not just an Adult Social Care issue but a responsibility of every department in the council and indeed of our partners in the city too. The city’s work around creating Dementia Friendly communities such as ‘Dementia Friendly Rothwell’ were highlighted as well as the massive issue of loneliness and social isolation.

We are of course all keeping our fingers crossed that we are successful in our bid to the Big Lottery Fulfilling Lives which could bring up to £6million into the city to help tackle social isolation and loneliness.

International Day of Older People in October in Leeds will have as its theme ‘how do older people view and engage with cultural activity in the city’ and will feed into Light Night on 3rd October ( This is one night of the year when the city centre comes alive with music, dance, performance, and art activity and you see people of all ages enjoying what the city has to offer.

We’ve made great strides over the years on the Changing Places toilet facilities around the city and Safe Places for people with learning disabilities. I have met and will continue to meet with individuals and groups representing those with disabilities, sensory impairments and mental health issues in addition to older people’s and learning disability groups to see how, keeping that legacy of the Tour in mind, we can make our city more accessible for all of our residents.


Posted in Achievement, Active ageing, Dementia, Learning disablity, Mental Health, older people, Safeguarding, Social Isolation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment