Directors Of Adult Social Services Stress ‘Unprecedented Breadth’ Of Their Responsibilities

Following the launch last week of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), a new survey* shows how widely their influence and responsibilities are being developed within English top tier local authorities.

Overwhelmingly their core task is to provide a range of social services to disabled people, people with mental health problems and to vulnerable older people – services which in many cases include the additional responsibilities of arranging, providing, commissioning or otherwise supervising housing services (52%).

Other services featuring prominently in the developing tasks being set for DASSs, however, are those which include crime prevention, community regeneration and safer communities. Overall some 46 per cent of the survey respondents said they had responsibilities in these areas.

The evidence also shows that large numbers are also taking responsibility for services that have a part to play in the adults’ social care, health and wellbeing agendas. These include libraries (25%), adult learning (25%) and museums. Meanwhile a substantial number of the new posts are being formally wedded to tasks concerning health improvement, wellbeing and public health issues (21.5%), leisure (18.5%) as well as supporting people (17%) and broader cultural services.

According to ADASS President Anne Williams the evidence shows that while adult social services departments have key, core responsibilities to adults, “the new directors are taking on a far wider and more comprehensive set of duties aimed at influencing prevention services and contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of adults in their local communities.”

The survey also shows that there are roughly as many men as women serving in the new roles, and that the average age of the new directors is in the late 40s.

Ms Williams stressed that as well as working with a number of partners, DASSs still provide a number of services which impact on children’s lives, and that the closest possible working relationships with the new children’s services departments are “vitally important. “We have to remember that children with special needs become adults with special needs, and that domestic violence can harm people in families whatever their age,” she said.

* The survey was carried out among Directors of Adult Social Services in England in January 2007.