Local government and care provider bodies in Wales signed an agreement today to improve partnership working for the good of services.
The “memorandum of understanding” has been signed by the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, the Welsh Local Government Association and provider bodies Care Forum Wales, the United Kingdom Homecare Association and the Registered Nursing Home Association.
ADSS Cymru vice-president Neelam Bhardwaja cited tensions over the level of council fees for providers and an “ideological” preference for public sector provision in Wales as barriers to strong partnership working in the past.
Independent sector dominating provision
However, independent providers now deliver 86% of residential and domiciliary care for adults and provide two-thirds of places in children’s homes.
Bhardwaja said the agreement marked a “turning point” to create “a much more open and transparent” relationship.
WLGA director of social services, Beverlea Frowen, said the agreement was less about resolving conflict than about pooling the sector’s intelligence to tackle issues such as the credit crunch, workforce development and future spending pressures.
She said: “What we have recognised is that we have a lot of information and expertise between us about existing and future pressures and if we pool that knowledge we have a better chance of tackling them together.”
Among key commitments are holding tri-annual meetings between the organisations’ leaders to “promote constructive co-operation” on the future of services and urging councils to hold meetings four times a year with representative provider bodies.
It also calls for providers to be fully engaged in the strategic commissioning of services.
Fees for care
On fee setting, it says councils must show they have taken account of providers’ concerns about costs, but then make decisions with reference to the “total context”, including council budgets and commissioning strategies.
UKHCA vice-president in Wales, Yvonne Apsitis, said: “Home care providers are keen to demonstrate what they can deliver for their communities in partnership with local authorities, and the agreement puts them in a strong position to secure improved dialogue with their local commissioners.”