Minutes of the VSS Health & Wellbeing Committee Meeting 9

Wednesday 9th September 2020

Remote via Zoom


HWB Committee Members Present:

Beverley Clarke (BC)                    VSS Board Member & Committee Chair

Patricia Haren (PH)                      VSS Board Member


VSS Officers in Attendance

Margaret Bateson (MB)                VSS CEO

Karen Morgan (KM)                      VSS HWB Case Manager

Emma Dargan (ED)                      VSS Programmes Manager

Elaine Murphy (EM)                      VSS Head of Service Development

Aongus O’Keeffe (AOK)               VSS HWB Programme Manager


A      Apologies and Welcome


BC welcomed everybody to the meeting and acknowledged EM in the new role at her first Committee meeting.


B      Minutes of Previous Meetings


Minutes of the meeting held on 19 May 2020 were agreed and adopted.


C      Action Point updates from Previous Meeting


          Outstanding action points from the previous meeting were discussed and reviewed.



AP1 Training to be arranged for all Committee members when new member recruited. Should be led by a WAVE Trauma trainer. It was agreed that this should be scheduled for November 2020, by which time the new member(s) should be appointed. It was also agreed that all Board members should attend and that an additional component of training regarding Historical Institutional Abuse should also be arranged - to be explored with Blue Knot Foundation and others.



AP3 & 4 Committee Effectiveness & Governance

        Training took place 01.09.2020


        AP5 Independent HWB Committee Member

        ITT now approved and ready for issue. To be issued wk/c 14/09 with appointment expected w/c 19/10.

D      Policies: Development and Approvals


Access NI – Policy approved by Committee. This is a VSS internal policy that outlines the approach when checks on staff and job applicants are returned to VSS to inform HR decision making.

AP1: VSS to seek broader guidelines document that clarifies best practice regarding checks for individuals returning from long-term sick leave etc.

AP2: VSP team to develop a similar guide for funded organisations so that they have an equivalent in place

E        Regional Trauma Network


        MB provided a verbal update. No real progress but ongoing engagement with DoH. Key issue remains around how to ‘prioritise and protect victims and survivors’ within any RTN service.

F      Clinical Governance


Safeguarding: No new cases reported.


Serious Adverse Incidents: No cases to report to date in 2020/21.


Client Risk: No cases added to date.


Unacceptable Behaviour: No clients or members of the public listed on the register in 2020/21.


Challenging Engagements with VSS Clients: VSS is monitoring data on the volume of challenging engagements, which will be used to inform VSS staff thresholds for unacceptable behaviour, but also to establish repeat patterns of negative behaviour towards VSS staff and the impact this has.  This is monitored monthly by VSS management, and the Committee will be kept informed. 


Training & Development: Funding and participation information provided to the committee, in relation to the Workforce Training & Development Plan.

As at 01 Sept 2020, 1,660 places have been attended equating to 580 unique participants across 134 training events/courses arranged by the VSS Programmes Team.   All VSS funded organisations have participated in training to date (with the exception of 1 small voluntary organisation).


A call went out to the sector in mid-August 2020 to further inform and support training and development needs.


G     CEO Exception Report (Replaced with updates on Covid-19 Resource Guides for this Quarter)

        HIA – delay anticipated for the roll-out of the service as focus on Commissioner appointment and business case will not progress until they are in post. May be Christmas/New Year before this is now up and running. 3 areas of serious and significant risk identified with this:

1.    Client Risk – lack of resources to support individuals coming forward

2.    Reputational Risk – service does not meet the standards required

3.    Breakdown of trust – victims and survivors unwilling to engage


AP3: CEO to formally raise concerns with TEO and report back to Committee


H     Quarter End Outcomes Report


Draft April-June 2020 report discussed. Focus during this quarter was ensuring services and support adapted and victims and survivors were able to get the support they needed during the Covid-19 lockdown. Some patterns emerging regarding talking therapies for example which could inform future service delivery. Some discussion on the impact of equine and other alternative therapies for the HWB team to further explore.


I       Covid-19 Working Group – Office Return


        AOK provided brief update on planning and measures being considered to mitigate the risk for staff to enable a return to office working when the time is right. No immediate plans given ongoing refurbishment work on 1st and 4th floors. Specific projects require skeletal staff in the office on an ad hoc basis currently. Further update at next Committee meeting.


J      Service Development        


        This will be a new standing item on the agenda and will be led by the new Head of Service Development role at VSS. This role will act as a link between the Head of HWB and Head of Corporate Services roles. This item will look at new service areas being considered and which may eventually become new policies and support areas for VSS – eg Bereaved Payments, Victims Payment Scheme, Carers Working Group, Victims Strategy.


K      AOB


        HWB Committee Annual Report – Report for 2019/20 approved by Committee.


AP4: Committee Workplan to be developed which will inform Committee progress for future reporting


HWB Committee Independent member recruitment – vacancy to be filled through procuring clinical expertise to sit on the Committee for a period of 1 year.


Review of Committee ToR – Chair has completed 3 year term and will step down but remain on the HWB Committee. Chair to rotate on an annual basis between membership.        Current membership content to continue with clinical expertise to be co-opted on to the Committee. However the chair will need to rotate.


        Date of Next Meeting: 10th November 2020.