Shake-Up Of Social Services Means More Care At Home

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons has set out plans for a Wales-wide shake-up of social services. The assembly government’s 10-year strategy will aim to give people who need social services more say over the care or support they receive.

{mosimage}It calls for more emphasis on caring for disabled and elderly people at home and taking fewer children into care. Plaid Cymru have given it a cautious welcome but are concerned it could prove no more than a “wish list”. Social services officials at the assembly government say they have learned lessons from political rows sparked by the planned hospital shake-up in Wales.

They insist the strategy entitled Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities should have the knock-on effect of easing pressures on hospitals and make that re-organisation more effective.

Dr Gibbon, who officially launched the new strategy at a housing complex in Blackwood, Caerphilly on Wednesday, said: “Social services face new challenges over the next decade as the demands of society change.”

He said the strategy sets out how social care will be modernised over the next 10 years “to keep pace with this change and to deliver services that are truly based around the needs of the citizen”.

Dr Gibbons said it would give people a greater say and provide the “right services, in the right place at the right time”.

A first step will be to commission a review of factors affecting social services spending over the next 15 years.

He added: “This truly is a strategy for improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens by helping them remain independent, by supporting them and their carers and protecting them from harm.”

Plaid Cymru health spokesperson, Helen Mary Jones, said she welcomed the aims of this strategy but was concerned that it could prove to be no more than a wish list.

The Liberal Democrats said it was two years too late and questioned if councils would be given the money to provide for greater care at home.

The party’s health spokeswoman Jenny Randerson said the government had placed so much store on how the NHS should work closely with social services that she was “disappointed they were not able to produce a coherent strategy earlier”.

Conservative health spokesman Jonathan Morgan said the assembly government’s policy in this area had been a “catalogue of disasters”.

He said a strategy was needed to recruit social workers, ensure carers were properly qualified and to do “much more” for looked after children.

The Welsh Local Government Assocation (WLGA) said it was “a major day for social services in Wales”.

Councillor Meryl Gravell, the WLGA’s spokesperson on social services, said she was “delighted” that there would be a funding review.

“Meeting the financial challenge has been a concern and we welcome the assembly government’s willingness to address this issue,” she said.