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A draft new strategy for social services in Wales which will expect more consistent high quality services for those...
A draft new strategy for social services in Wales which will expect more consistent high quality services for those in need and greater links with the community to promote independence and well being was launched today by health and social services minister Brian Gibbons. Dr Gibbons said the proposals in Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities promote social inclusion and the rights of the individual.

'Modernising social services in Wales is key to providing accessible personalised care for users,' said Dr Gibbons, who launched the consultation at Willowbrook extraCare Housing Scheme in Bettws, Newport.

'Social services need to focus more on prevention by intervening at an earlier stage to help families and retain people's independence. This personal support needs to link with wider community strategies which underpin this approach.'

The changes in social services will complement the 10-year health strategy Designed for Life, which the Minister launched last year, and respond to the challenges set out in the Beecham Report and move us towards a world-class health and social services in Wales.

Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities is now out for consultation for 14 weeks. The final strategy will be published in the new year.

It sets out five key issues:

-- Social services should have a much higher profile, working across local government to champion the needs of families and vulnerable people.

-- Adults and children's social services should ensure that individuals and families are properly supported by coherent services that offer continuity of care for those with enduring needs.

-- Services should put the citizen at the centre of what they do and focus on earlier prevention rather than concentrating with those with the most intense needs.

-- Local authorities should remain both commissioners and providers of services but take a more active role in shaping the mixed market of private, public and voluntary care.

-- The strategy proposes a more diverse model for using the skills of a better qualified workforce.

One of the key elements will be the development of a national workforce action plan which will define roles and responsibilities as well as developing new workforce planning tools.

Dr Gibbons added: 'We need to have better people with the right skills mix to support the reshaping of services to meet the needs of the next decade.

'I want social care to be a career of choice for more people.

'Users and carers will have simpler systems to improve access. The aim is to provide more personalised services which give a real say.

'There needs to be a greater emphasis on working 'with people' rather than just 'for people'.

The minister said he was pleased to launch the consultation at Willowbrook extraCare Housing Scheme because it demonstrates a number of key features of the consultation paper.

'Willowbrook offers an alternative to traditional residential care which allows vulnerable elderly people to have a wider range of options in deciding their support needs' he said.

'By, for example, using new technology, Telecare, they are able to manage risk and provide a less intrusive, more responsive style of care.'

Robert Smith, chief executive of Linc-Cymru, who run Willowbrook, said: 'Willowbrook extraCare offers older people independence and choice in a safe, caring yet stimulating environment. Our research shows that Linc-Cymru's extracare services are highly valued by our customers and their families. I am delighted the Welsh Assembly Government continues to recognise our pioneering work with Newport City Council and we look forward to working with the local authorities and the Assembly in developing improved models of extraCare across Wales.'

Paul Cockeram, cabinet member for adult and housing services at Newport City Council said: 'Our Extra Care schemes emphasise a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for older people.

'They provide an important gap between living in a family home and a nursing home and mean that members of our community can have their independence preserved,' he said.

'Tenants are offered as much support as needed to ensure that that they enjoy living in a safe, stimulating environment that increases their independence and choice.'

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