Social Care Wales, a new voice for the social care sector – Western Mail column by Chief Executive Sue Evans Back
It’s an exciting time for social care in Wales. The Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Rebecca Evans, has announced the new board members for Social Care Wales, who will take up their posts in April 2017.
Arwel Ellis Owen OBE, chair of Care Council for Wales, remains as chair for the new organisation and he will be supported by the new members, who bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge to our work.
Arwel said: “I must pay tribute to the outgoing members of the Care Council. They have done a sterling job in regulating and developing the social care workforce, through effective scrutiny and challenge of the Chief Executive and her team.”
Social Care Wales, the new organisation for social care in Wales that launches on 3 April, will combine the current functions of the Care Council and the Social Services Improvement Agency. It will also have responsibility for leading and co-ordinating social care research with universities and Welsh Government.
Our regulatory role will be expanded to include domiciliary and care home workers, which will allow us to specify the values, skills and knowledge needed by anyone wanting to provide effective care and support to vulnerable children and adults in Wales.
Our role also involves supporting the training and development of the workforce and sharing evidence about what works to keep people safe, independent and happy.
Our regulation work and Code of Professional Practice will assure the public that anyone who is registered with us is deemed fit to practise and we will take action to de-register those whose practice is not acceptable.
During 2016 we worked with the social care sector and the Minister to decide the priorities for service improvement, which need to be addressed immediately. They are:
Looked after children – These are children who are no longer able to live with their families, where there are concerns about neglect or abuse. Following a range of assessments by social workers, the family courts decide if a child’s welfare would improve if the local authority became the corporate parent. This determines “looked after” status. The main improvement question is: “What can we do to prevent children coming into care and how can we improve the life chances of those children who are currently being cared for – either by foster parents or within a specialist residential setting?”
People with dementia – Most people are aware of the need to support those with dementia and the expected growth in the number of people with the condition over the next 10 years. We want to use our knowledge about what works well to improve this support and prevent deterioration, by looking at local and international evidence, and rolling out best practice across Wales.
Care and support at home – People have told us that, no matter how complex their needs, they want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. This will need a range of agencies to work well together, focusing on the needs of the person and their family by “breaking down” professional or organisational barriers where they exist. Together with different groups, we have launched a Care and Support at Home Strategy for Wales and we will be developing a plan by April 2017 to put this into practice.
There is excellent social care practice across Wales, but it is patchy and to improve it we need a whole sector response to the challenges ahead. I am looking forward to working with our new board members and continuing our positive relationships with our partners to make this happen.