Wales Council of the Blind

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Benchmarking Working Group.

V.I. Benchmarking Working Group.

Meeting of Working Group. Wednesday, 7th November, '07, 11 a.m.

Media Resource Centre, Llandrindod Wells, Powys


1. Feedback on Conference '07.

A report based on the evaluation sheets was discussed. The majority of the comments were within the 'Very Good' and 'Fairly good' categories with a predominance of those in the Very Good category and a favourable response to all the presentations.

Negative comments were made about the accessibility and convenience of the premises and the shortage of food but it was pointed out that this was partly due to the fact that a considerable number attended who had not booked in.

It was concluded that on the whole it had been successful in that it raised the profile of V.I. Benchmarking and had promoted networking.

Financially it had been successful, leaving a small balance of about £1,000 to fund future meetings and admin.

2. Another conference?

There was a unanimous view that a conference should be:

  • a regular event;
  • with a quality venue in Mid-Wales;
  • in late June, early July 2008.

With time to plan, advance funding should be sought and it was agreed that an approach should be made immediately to S.S.I.A. to inquire about possible sources of funding.

As soon as a date, venue and theme were arranged, this should be circulated to the network including ADSS, WLGA, and S.S.I.A. and a flyer designed and printed for circulation as early as possible. An Action Plan and a timetable should be prepared.

A Conference Planning group would be needed and the network should be circulated asking for two or three volunteers.


3. How do we raise awareness amongst senior managers?

A report about Benchmarking progress to be prepared and copied to VW. GJ

Report to be sent to all local authority Contracts and Commissioning Officers. PS

This should also be sent to all Social Services Care Managers and to all Equalities Officers and other networks of Officers with corporate responsibilities. VW.

The Chair of ADSS (Susan Lewis) and the Chair of AWASH (Neil Ayling, Denbighshire) should be approached with a request for Benchmarking to be included on their agenda and with an offer of a presentation. GJ

An effort should be made to have Benchmarking included in the new Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Strategies currently being drafted and the v.i. voluntary organisations should be asked to lobby on this front. VW.

Inquiries should be made to Steve Vaughan about any progress in the PDSI Network so that this could be included on their agenda. VW.

4. How shall we monitor the use and achievement of the Benchmarking standards?

4.1 It was decided that a direct approach would be best and a questionnaire should be prepared based on the Performance Monitoring Process to be sent to the official Benchmarking contacts in each local authority. Support for this should be sought from ADSS, SSIA and CSSIW and their support mentioned in the introduction. This would be the best way of ensuring that it will be completed and returned.

These agencies could be asked as part of the approach decided on under Items 2 and 3 above.

The results of this could be reported to the 2008 Conference.

It was also decided to invite Tim Buckle or Nigel Bone to one of the future meetings to compare notes with the Hearing Impairment Benchmarking.

Action: VW.

4.2 Under this item, discussion proceeded to a more general question on the improvement of the v.i. services.

Support was expressed for an effort to involve Health and to tackle the Integration agenda. It was proposed that someone who could represent the Health Services should be identified and invited to a meeting to discuss how to take this forward. PS said that he would consult Officers in Wrecsam about whom best to invite. PS.

The group agreed that a Business case for good v.i. services should be prepared showing the cost savings for Health and any relevant research should be gathered. VW.

The group was reminded that all LHBs now had Disability Equality Schemes and that these should be checked for mention of v.i. and accessible information.

5. How should we utilise the V.I. Champions?

It was felt that V.I. Champions could play an important role in what could now be regarded as Stage 2 of the Implementation process and they should be directly engaged.

5.1 It was agreed that they should be supplied with the questionnaire (Item 4 (a)) and the timetable for responding at the same time that we were sending it out to the Benchmarking contacts and asked to check that this was being completed and returned. The letter should also ask for us to be copied into the response they receive. VW.

5.2 The Champions needed to know what was expected of them so a briefing should be circulated to them with the job description agreed at the Conference and a list of the relevant contacts. VW.

5.3 A draft report on the Conference and plans for Stage 2 would be circulated to the group for approval before sending out to the Champions and others. GJ.

5.4 The Champions needed to be briefed on the issues and to be kept up to date so they should receive follow-up information. VW.

5.5 The identity of the Champions should be made known to the local V.I. voluntary organisations. VW.

5.6 The identity of the Champions should be made known to the local Equality Officers. VW.

6. Keeping in touch with the Network.

Setting up a Web-site.

6.1 A paper on possible arrangements and contents was discussed. There was enthusiastic agreement that a web-site should be set up and that the SSIA offer to design and install should be accepted. WCB had offered to manage it once installed and for up to six months until that was completed to run a Benchmarking page on the WCB web-site.

All the elements mentioned in the paper were considered suitable for a benchmarking site but good practice examples were judged to be key.

6.2 The group decided that initial discussions should go ahead with SSIA and a draft design and plan be brought back to the next meeting. Ben Cruse should be asked if he could provide a prototype with a password to be viewed by the group. WCB.

6.3 It was stressed that whilst this would deal with the design and editing roles, it would depend upon members to supply and decide on the material included. It was felt that an editorial group of two or three would be needed to spread the workload so it was agreed that a notice should be sent out to the Benchmarking Network to invite people with a specific interest in this area of the Benchmarking project. VW.

6.4 Maximum accessibility would be fundamental to the design and use.

6.5 Although the web-site could address geographical problems to some extent, the view was expressed that the Working Group membership itself should reflect the whole of Wales. It was promised that an approach would be made to areas not currently represented to recruit another group member. VW.

7. Funding for running the Benchmarking Network.

It seemed clear to the group that with the progress agreed at this meeting a Project Manager with a co-ordinating role would be needed eventually. Given the time it would take to identify funding, it was agreed to make approaches immediately to ADSS, SSIA and CSSIW for advice.

A job description and a 3-year budget including conference costs should be prepared for use with any bids. It would be useful if the business case mentioned in Item 4.2 could be ready for inclusion.

8. Future meetings.

Dates, times and venues.

Working group:

Tuesday, 29th January.

Thursday, 8th May.


Wednesday, 2nd July.

Phone meetings if required in between.

9. A.O.B.

Theme for the Conference 2008.

Service user perspective with a positive angle.

Showcase how services have been re-shaped as a result of Benchmarking.

Presentation from service user to demonstrate real example of good practice.

Title: 'How does it feel?'

Aim to make it an enjoyable event by being creative with the programme and arrangements.

Live music/performance by v.i. artists?

Action plan and timetable to be prepared and circulated as soon as possible.


  • Jason Bennett (Caerphilly C.B.C.)
  • Angela Edmunds (Vale of Glamorgan)
  • Andrea Gordon (GDBA)
  • Gordon Jones (Bridgend C.B.C.)
  • Linda Jones (Caerphilly C.B.C.)
  • Gwenda Lewis (R.C.T. C.B.C.)
  • Paul Swann (Wrexham C.B.C.)
  • Vanessa Webb (WBC)


  • Sharon Beckett (GAB)
  • Isabel Bull (Cardiff C.C.)
  • Ceri Ellerton (C.C. Swansea)