Minutes of the VSS Health & Wellbeing Committee Meeting 10

Thursday 12th November 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

Andrew Walker (AW) Acting Head of Operations

Emma Dargan (ED) VSS Programmes Manager

Elaine Murphy (EM) VSS Head of Service Development

Peter Topping (PT) VSS Health and Wellbeing Case Manager

Aongus OKeeffe (AOK) VSS HWB Programme Manager

Melissa McCartan (MM) VSS Business Support Officer (minutes)



A Apologies


Apologies received from VSS CEO Margaret Bateson.


B Minutes of Previous Meetings

The minutes of the previous HWB Committee meeting held on 9 September 2020 were agreed.


C Action Points


AOK provided an update on the following outstanding action points.


09.09.20 AP1: VSS to seek broader guidelines document that clarifies best practice regarding checks for individuals who have conflict related convictions or returning from long-term sick leave etc. It was noted that the guidance/best practice document has been received and passed to VSS HR Manager for review and update of VSS Internal Guidance document if appropriate.


09.09.20 AP2: Programmes team to develop a similar guide for funded organisations so that they have an equivalent in place. It was noted that the guide is in progress and is due to be completed by January 2021.

09.09.20 AP3: Letter to be issued from the HWB Committee flagging their concerns with TEO in relation to the delays with the approval of the HIA Business Case and to outline the need for a contingency plan to be put in place. It was noted that the HIA Business Case was approved by TEO on 23rd October 2020 and VSS are moving swiftly to implement the service delivery scheduled to launch on 01.12.20.

09.09.20 AP4: Committee Workplan for 20/21 to be developed and finalised. It was agreed that this will be finalised by mid-December 2020.

19.05.20 AP1: Training to be arranged for all Committee members when new member recruited. Should be led by a WAVE Trauma trainer. AOK advised one training provider is unable to facilitate HIA training and that discussions are ongoing with other training providers. AOK to link in with BC to explore West Mercia as a trainer option.

18.02.20 AP6: Review start dates of Committee membership and set out timetables for renewal. It was noted current members are content to continue for another term and that an independent member is to be recruited. It was agreed that the HWB Committee Chair will rotate on a yearly basis among members, commencing Q1 2020-21. AOK to draft chair rotation rota.


Action Points arising from 12.11.20:

12.11.20 AP1: Committee effectiveness session to be arranged with external facilitator for HWB Committee members.


D Policies: New & Under Development


Nothing to report.


E Regional Trauma Network


AW provided a brief update on the RTN. In light of Covid-19, AW acknowledged that the priorities in the DoH have changed but VSS continue to progress as much as possible.


F Clinical Governance


F1 - Client Risk / Safeguarding / Serious Adverse Incidents


Nothing new to report since the previous update.


The Committee noted a spike in calls in September 2020 due to home heating and Victims Payment Scheme queries.



F2 - Training & Development


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


It was noted that the volume of individuals attending training is down compared to recent years. AOK advised that online training options continue to be supported during the current circumstances.


It was noted that VSS is currently in the process of funding a number of places in Family Therapy training. It was agreed that the HWB Committee will continue to discuss further plans and suggestions in relation to the pilot/training at future meetings.


G CEO Exception Report


Nothing to report.


H Quarter End Outcomes Report


Outcomes based ME report for Q2 2020-21 was discussed.


It was noted that data to date for individuals in receipt of talking therapy interventions (since Q1 2020-21) shows a 5% increase in positive outcomes compared to previous years, which could indicate that this new way of delivering talking therapies is as effective as the previous approach.


It was also noted that across all health and wellbeing needs-based support areas, 74% recorded an improvement, with 10% showing no overall change.


There was discussion around the qualitative feedback survey that was issued to a 10% sample of victims and survivors in receipt of Self Directed Assistance in February 2020. The Committee noted that 94% of respondents feel they are treated well when they contact VSS.


AOK advised that the number of individuals availing of Personal and Professional Development interventions is significantly lower than the previous year. It was noted Covid-19 has had a significant impact on this service delivery area.


It was noted VSS has been liaising with all Advocacy Support organisations to progress with the implementation of the new reporting database. AOK advised that the MIS team is working closely with the organisations to establish mechanisms for allowing the relevant data to be extracted and transferred to VSS as smoothly and efficiently as possible.


The Committee noted further payments relating to home heating support were issued in October 2020.


BC asked for an update on the tablet device that is currently being piloted to address social isolation and difficulties around accessing technology. EM provided an update and noted VSS are looking at alternative options and plan to issue a funding call in November 2020 with a specific priority to increase IT connectivity/ decrease social isolation.


I Covid-19 Working Group


It was noted the VSS Covid-19 Working Group continue to meet regularly to discuss risk assessments and assist with a safe phased return to the workplace. AW advised it will be a slow transition and staff will return to the office only when it is necessary and safe to do so.


J Service Development


The Committee noted that VSS will formally launch and commence support services for Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) from Tuesday 1st December 2020. A call for applications to the community and voluntary sector opened on 5 November 2020 and will close at 12 noon on 26 November 2020.


There was discussion around the Victims Payment Scheme, which AW advised is progressing well since DoJ were designated. It is anticipated that the scheme will be fully operational by March 2021.


The Committee noted that Ministers have received the submission in relation to the needs of the Bereaved. No update on timeframe as of yet.


PT provided an update on the work carried out around care for Carers. It was noted two working groups have been formed; an internal VSS Carers Working Group and an external Carers Sectoral Working Group since identifying barriers for carers accessing support and services.


The Committee noted 5 action points arising from the internal and external working group meetings, which address both the immediate and longer term priorities. PT then welcomed questions from the HWB Committee members.




BC and PH acknowledged the dedication and commitment from VSS staff, particularly in recent months and in the lead up to the HIA launch in December 2020.


Nothing further to note.


L Date of Next Meeting


The next VSS Health and Wellbeing Committee meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 23rd February 2021.