Minister proposes 10-year strategy for social services

“Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities”, a draft new 10-year strategy that aims to promote social inclusion and the rights of the individual for social services in Wales, was launched by Health and Social Services Minister Dr Brian Gibbons this week.

“Modernising social services in Wales is key to providing accessible personalised care for users,” said Dr Gibbons. “Social services need to focus more on prevention by intervening at an earlier stage to help families and retain people’s independence. This personal support needs to link with wider community strategies which underpin this approach.”

The strategy is now out for consultation for 14 weeks and a final strategy will be published in the new year. The strategy sets out five key issues:

• Social services should have a much higher profile, working across local government to champion the needs of families and vulnerable people.
• Adults and children’s social services should ensure that individuals and families are properly supported by coherent services that offer continuity of care for those with enduring needs.
• Services should put the citizen at the centre of what they do and focus on earlier prevention rather than concentrating with those with the most intense needs.
• Local authorities should remain both commissioners and providers of services but take a more active role in shaping the mixed market of private, public and voluntary care.
• The strategy proposes a more diverse model for using the skills of a better qualified workforce.

Commenting on the strategy Alun Thomas, Deputy Chief Executive of mental health charity Hafal, said: “The Welsh Assembly Government is doing a great deal of good work in this area. The Care Programme Approach and the ethos of community provision are both fine examples of where they’ve got things right. But we still need a greater commitment to longer-term funding.”

He also expressed some concern over the strategy: primarily that staff delivering social services across Wales are not put in the firing line for what Hafal see as the Assembly Government’s problems.

“We must avoid blaming the staff across Wales who do such an admirable job of delivering social services. It is not the service delivery that is the issue here; this is a matter of WAG leadership,” said Mr Thomas.

“There are currently 22 social services commissioners in Wales, whereas the Republic of Ireland has only one. The whole system requires urgent rationalisation.”

To read “Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities”, click here.