Social care’s top civil servant has told Community Care he is redressing the sector’s historic low priority in the Department of Health less than two months after taking the job.
Director-general of social care David Behan’s comments came as care services minister Ivan Lewis proposed a number of fresh initiatives to raise the sector’s status and improve quality.
Behan said he was of setting up a 70-strong social care directorate, which would have “strategic, policy, delivery and financial capacity and capability”. He said: “We are going to be a strong directorate. We are here to do a job and we are going to do it in a way that’s ambitious for the people we serve.”
Staff will move from the health and care partnerships directorate, headed by Antony Sheehan, who previously oversaw social care policy.
But Behan said: “The relationship with Antony is very good.” Behan, formerly chief inspector at the Commission for Social Care Inspection, cited several areas in which he had made a difference since taking the role in early September.
For example, he said he had gained agreement from DH commissioning director Duncan Selbie that directors of adult social services will be involved in the development programme for primary care trusts. He said: “There’s a good understanding
in the department of the need to address social care. You can almost see social care coming up the political agenda.”
Lewis said he had appointed CSCI chair Denise Platt to lead a working group to improve social care leadership and raise its status. He also called for a leadership, management and commissioning academy, and a research journal for social care, similar to the role the Lancet plays for medicine, to be set up.