Minister Proposes 10-Year Strategy For Social Services

A draft new strategy for social services in Wales which will expect more consistent high quality services for those in need and greater links with the community to promote independence and well being has been launched by Health and Social Services Minister Dr Brian Gibbons. Dr Gibbons said the proposals in Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities promote social inclusion and the rights of the individual.

“Modernising social services in Wales is key to providing accessible personalised care for users,” said Dr Gibbons, who launched the consultation at Willowbrook extraCare Housing Scheme in Bettws, Newport.

“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 changes in social services will complement the 10-year health strategy Designed for Life, which the Minister launched last year, and respond to the challenges set out in the Beecham Report and move us towards a world-class health and social services in Wales.

Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities is now out for consultation for 14 weeks. The final strategy will be published in the new year.

It 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.

One of the key elements will be the development of a national workforce action plan which will define roles and responsibilities as well as developing new workforce planning tools.

Dr Gibbons added: “We need to have better people with the right skills mix to support the reshaping of services to meet the needs of the next decade. I want social care to be a career of choice for more people. Users and carers will have simpler systems to improve access. The aim is to provide more personalised services which give a real say. There needs to be a greater emphasis on working “with people” rather than just “for people”.