The Welsh assembly government’s draft strategy for the future of social services in Wales suggests councils could introduce para-professionals to tackle the shortage of qualified social workers.
The long-awaited 10-year strategy, announced today by Welsh health minister Dr Brian Gibbons, reports that demand for social services in Wales has risen by 50 per cent over the past five years but workforce expansion has not kept pace.
In his forward to the document, Dr Gibbons said social workers needed to work with the most vulnerable clients because of their complex needs but suggested there could be a role for para-professional workers to assist them. Some of Scotland’s councils, notably Glasgow, have developed similar roles.
Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, initially earmarked for publication by the Welsh assembly government in May, also says councils and Wales should retain a single director of social services with responsibility for both children’s and adult services, unlike in England.
Social services will, however, be expected to become more involved in delivering preventive services in conjunction with other parts of the public sector.
Alun Thomas, deputy chief executive of mental health charity Hafal: “The whole system requires urgent rationalisation. There are currently 22 social services commissioners in Wales, whereas the Republic of Ireland has only one.
“We must avoid blaming the staff across Wales who do such an admirable job of delivering social services. It is not the service delivery that is the issue here; this is a matter of Welsh assembly government leadership.”
Consultation on the strategy runs until 15 November.