The Key is Telling the Stories of Those Who Experience the Services
Bruce McLernon, February 7th 2011
Bruce McLernon looks forward to the publication of the White Paper on social services in Wales
THE independent commission for social services in Wales, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Pearson, has published its report.
From Vision to Action contains a detailed analysis of social care services and a series of recommendations designed to promote a more efficient means of collaboration; intelligent commissioning and an emphasis on preventative services built around the service user, their families and carers.
Significantly, it acknowledges the considerable gains and sustained progress in social services in Wales in recent years, including improved leadership within councils; a better qualified workforce and greater innovation.
It also recognises the importance of keeping social services as an integral part of the local government family alongside education, housing and social and community regeneration.
This will help ensure the focus is on the family, providing seamless integration between adult and children's services.
The commission was not persuaded that some social services should be transferred to the NHS, arguing there are faster and less disruptive ways to address the issues at the interface between health and social care.
ADSS Cymru is heartened that many of the recommendations reflect work that is already being undertaken across Wales.
However, we cannot underestimate the financial challenges we face as we try to do more with less, against a background of increasing public expectation.
ADSS Cymru also welcomes the recognition that we have real strengths to build on in addressing these significant challenges and we are pleased the report gives us a platform on which a wider debate about these issues can take place.
We are fully committed to working with the Assembly Government and other key partners in shaping a distinct and sustainable future for social services in Wales.
The Assembly Government intends to publish a White Paper on social services early in 2011, drawing on the work of the independent commission and other work streams, including the work of the social work and social care workforce task group, the adult protection advisory board, the Welsh safeguarding children forum and the review of regulation and inspection.
In all, there will be some significant issues to be covered in the White Paper and ADSS Cymru has been actively engaged in informing the debate around key issues of workforce development, safeguarding and regulation and inspection.
Within this debate we feel there are some key messages which need to be acknowledged if we are going to build on the strong foundation which has been created.
Firstly, integrated social services for children, adults and families are a key public service and contributes to the strong partnership between local government and the NHS in improving the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
Secondly, the focus must continue to be on delivering personalised social care, enabling people to engage meaningfully in the design and choice of the services that will meet their need establishing a partnership between the individual and the state.
Thirdly, it is fully acknowledged that we do not need to do everything 22 times and where it brings efficiencies and improvements to how a service can be delivered, local authorities are already, and will continue to, collaborate.
Social services is a complex business and it is crucial we engage with service users, carers and the general public, explaining our business and seeking their views on service improvement.
The most powerful tool at our disposal for getting over these messages is telling the stories of those who experience the services - whether they be complimentary or critical - and learning from these.
This is the challenge as we continue delivering an inclusive social care system for Wales.
Bruce McLernon is President of ADSS Cymru