Welsh reforms must allow social workers to do their job warns BASW Cymru

Radical plans to transform the way social services are delivered in Wales will only work if social workers are freed from a ‘tick box mentality’ and allowed to focus on people, BASW Cymru said.

The warning came following presentation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly for scrutiny.

The Bill sets out a framework for the future delivery of care and support services across the country, placing a greater focus on choice for service users.

Welsh Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas said the Bill, which will be voted on later in the year, would give people “real control over the social care services they use to meet their changing needs”.

BASW Cymru Manager Robin Moulster welcomed progression of the Bill, but added: “Unless there is a real commitment for organisations to allow and encourage relationship-based social services, these aims will never become reality.

“Social workers need to be freed by employers from a bureaucratic ‘tick box mentality’ so that they can build relationships with service users and carers to meet their real needs.”

Among areas of reform, the Bill seeks to:

  •     Establish a National Adoption Service
  •     Spell out exactly what children and adults can expect from social services
  •     Focus assessment according to need rather than services available
  •     Potentially extend services available through direct payments
  •     Strengthen safeguarding
  •     Provide new rights for carers
  •     Introduce ‘portable’ assessments so clients who move do not have to be reassessed

The reforms are in response to findings in the White Paper Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action, which highlighted the challenges facing public services in the country.

Mr Thomas said: “Assessments for service users and their carers must be about the outcomes that are important to them, not just about eligibility for a particular service.

“There will be a stronger focus through the Bill on preventative and early intervention services, based on greater partnership working and integration of services between local authorities and partners.

“This Bill will help us all tackle the many challenges facing social services in Wales but will also allow us all to seize the opportunities before us.”