Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Good report for social services

The report said Borders social services were among the best in Scotland

Scottish Borders Council Social Work department is among the best in Scotland, according to inspectors.

The Social Work Inspection Agency evaluated ten key areas. Eight were rated as "good", and the remaining two as "very good".

The reports comes just over five years after the authority was harshly criticised following the abuse of a vulnerable woman by her carers.

It also made nine recommendations for improvements to the service.

The inspection was carried out last year and involved about 120 meetings and interviews with staff, those who use the authority's social work services and partner organisations.

Inspectors also scrutinised more than 100 case files.

The Social Work Inspection Agency is evaluating every local authority in Scotland. Of 26 already inspected Scottish Borders ranks third.

I hope the Borders public feel a renewed sense of confidence in our services
Andrew Lowe
Director of Social Work
Some areas of the department's work were praised as among examples of the best practice in Scotland.

These included a night support service for people with extra-care needs, a swift referral process for juveniles involved in crime and anti-social behaviour and an innovative residential housing unit for people with disabilities at Station Court, Duns.

Alexis Jay of the Social Work Inspection Agency said: "This is a favourable report which gives a positive account of many aspects of social work services provided by Scottish Borders.

"This is reflected on the strong gradings given across all areas for evaluation.

"There are good structures in place to take forward the recommendations for improvement outlined in the report and we will work with senior managers to monitor progress over the coming months."

In 2002 the case of a vulnerable woman abused by three men in the Borders, one of them her carer, resulted in several inquiries.

Action plan

This latest report identified nine areas where improvements still need to be made.

It said there should a greater range of accommodation for young people leaving care, better respite arrangements for fostered children, and a speeding up of shared assessments.

The council said work had already begun on an action plan to implement the inspectors' recommendations for improvements.

Andrew Lowe, director of social work, said: "This report is the result of the most thorough inspection I have ever experienced.

"It demonstrates an enormous improvement journey that this Council and Social Work Services have made in the past four years.

She added: "I am particularly pleased to see the number of times the inspectors praise the work of our staff who deliver services to the public every day.

"I hope the Borders public feel a renewed sense of confidence in our services."

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