Social care leadership in Wales has strengthened over the past ten years, leading to a wider range of services and better-trained staff, but the gap between the best and the worst councils remains too big.
That was a key conclusion of a report jointly published today by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales and the Wales Audit Office, which brings together the findings of all joint reviews of councils since they started in 1998.
Areas of concern
The analysis found social services now enjoyed greater investment and a much higher profile within councils.
However, it said the gap between the best and worst-performing authorities in Wales “remains too big”, and listed a number of areas in need of improvement, including services for carers and older people with dementia, and risk assessments of all service users.
Yet the report noted “welcome signs of improvement” in leadership, and a “strong emphasis on workforce development”.
Satisfaction “maintained or improved”
Overall, levels of service user satisfaction were maintained or improved between the first round of joint reviews, conducted from 1998-2004, and the second, from 2004-8.
The chief inspector of care and social services in Wales, Rob Pickford, said he hoped the messages in the report would be widely disseminated.
He added: “We have a real opportunity, through this report, to learn the lessons from this ten-year journey and to use the lessons to promote and steer further improvements.”
New inspection regime
Joint reviews were designed to gauge how well communities were being served by a council’s social services, based on inspections carried out by the CSSIW, which replaced the Social Services Inspectorate for Wales in 2007, and the Wales Audit Office.
The programme has been replaced by a new inspection framework launched in April. This requires all local authorities to produce an annual improvement plan for social services, to be followed up by annual progress reports available to the public. Inspectors will also make annual visits to councils, both announced and unannounced.
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