New System Provides Clearer Pointers for all Involved in Social Services
September 20th 2010
SOCIAL services is a big, complex business affecting the lives of thousands of service users, carers and their families.
To ensure we deliver upon our commitment of providing the highest quality services, we need effective performance management processes in place.
In 2007, ADSS (Association of Directors for Social Services) Cymru and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) agreed that a process which improved and strengthened internal council arrangements for assessing and managing performance of social services needed to be developed.
Working closely with the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA), the Annual Council Reporting Framework (ACRF) was designed to meet this need and this year is being implemented across Wales.
The ACRF is an exciting and challenging new approach to reporting council social services performance.
Councils will publish their own assessment of performance which will be available to service users, staff, politicians and general public.
This puts the responsibility for reporting performance back to individual councils.
This is a new ethos and culture of reporting for councils, engaging council members, chief executives, managers, staff, stakeholders, service users and carers in the evaluation of services.
The annual report will provide a mechanism to help councils better listen to what users and their carers have to say about their lives, needs and ambitions, and the role social services can play.
Reporting in this way will help show where councils are providing good services and where they have introduced new ways of arranging services in order to meet changing demands and expectations.
It will also show those areas where councils need to improve their performance, helping councils better question the structure and delivery of services as well as how future commissioning and planning is carried out.
It will help identify common challenges being faced by councils across Wales and where collaboration might drive faster improvement.
By the end of the month, all councils should have published their annual report for 09/10.
Steve Williams, head of performance at Wrexham County Borough Council, said: "The new reporting process has been particularly well received in Wrexham with both elected members and staff working together throughout the year to challenge and improve the performance of our services.
"The focus in Wrexham has been producing an annual report that paints a picture of social service performance that is recognisable to citizens, service users and carers.
"The ACRF process has also resulted in a critical review of the way in which social services draws up and manages business plans, driving us to focus on a small number of key priorities that are really important in terms of managing change and which service users and carers told us are important to them.
"It has also helped us ensure improvement plans are realistic and reflect available resources, which is especially important given the current economic climate".
"Accountability for these actions is more transparent ensuring that we comment on progress or otherwise in the next year's report and explaining the key factors that influence this.
"We are seeking to use comments and feedback from service users as well as actual performance against key indicators to inform our reporting.
"We recognise that our biggest challenge is developing robust service user/carer/citizen engagement and that is likely to take time to fully achieve."
ADSS Cymru encourages you to go to your council's website and have a look at the Annual Social Services Report.