Social services commission to probe future of care in Wales

The Welsh government is launching an independent social services commission to find ways of delivering personalised care across Wales over the next ten years.

Deputy social services minister Gwenda Thomas will ask the new body to spell out how to deliver the Welsh government’s ten-year strategy for the sector, Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, which came into effect last year.

Speaking to delegates at the National Social Services Conference in Cardiff yesterday, she said key questions for the new commission would include how to raise the quality of practice and achieve “a step change in collaboration”.

‘Avoid duplication’

Neelam Bhardwaja, the new president of the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, which is hosting the conference, said she would seek clarification on the commission’s objectives, adding: “We wouldn’t want to be duplicating any work which is taking place at the moment.”

Thomas promised to consult widely with stakeholders such as ADSS Cymru on the commission’s terms of reference, composition and time frame.

Performance inconsistencies

The minister’s announcement came less than 24 hours after a report published by two inspectorates showed significant inconsistencies in the quality of services across Wales.

Thomas said the analysis of joint reviews by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales and the Wales Audit Office showed signs of general improvement over the last ten years.

But she added: “There are still variations in performance, and in some cases unacceptable practice, which have to be tackled.”

Integrated social services departments retained

However, Thomas and education minister Jane Hutt, who is responsible for children’s services, said they remained committed to retaining integrated social services departments in councils, contrary to the approach taken in England under the Children Act 2004.

Hutt told delegates: “Children and young people need to be seen in the context of their families and communities. We are committed to integrated social services departments.”

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