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FRONTLINE STAFF HEAR SOCIAL SERVICE VISION

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Social services professionals from across Wales discussed the Welsh Assembly Government's draft strategy for the se...
Social services professionals from across Wales discussed the Welsh Assembly Government's draft strategy for the sector when they met in Llandrindod Wells yesterday to talk about a range of issues.

Minister for health and social services, Brian Gibbons, said that Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, aims to develop more consistently high quality services for all those in need whether they are young or old.

The 10-year vision highlights the importance of giving families help sooner and the need to support people to stay independent for longer in their own homes.

The document complements Designed for Life, the Assembly Government's strategy for creating a world-class health service in Wales by 2015.

Speaking at the All-Wales Social Services Conference, Dr Gibbons said: 'Modernising social services in Wales is key to providing better, more accessible services tailored to people's individual needs whatever their age.

'Central to this is the need to raise the profile and importance of the essential and complex work of all social workers. They have a key role in helping some of the most vulnerable people in society.

'As part of this we need to ensure the staff are given the appropriate support, necessary skills and training to help support people's needs in the next decade. I want social care to be a career of choice for more people.

'The number of people receiving help from social services has grown by 50 per cent from 100,000 in 2001 to 150,000 in 2005 but the number of people working in the sector has not kept up with demand.

'We know that there is a renewed interest in careers in social care and there is an increasing trend in the numbers registering for social work training. This is a big achievement and will help relieve pressure on the sector and improve the quality of care for those in need, but we are not complacent and need to do more. A plan is being developed to build on this and will help define roles and responsibilities of all involved in social services.'

The document, which is out to consultation until November 15, with the final strategy published in the New Year, focuses on five key themes:

-- 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.

'Today provides a good opportunity for those on the frontline to meet, shareideas and best practice and discuss our proposals.

'I would encourage everyone with an interest in social care to read the document carefully. Many of us at some point in our lives will need the help and support of the social services and that is why it is so important for people to have their say.'

Notes

-- Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities, the Welsh Assembly Government's draft strategy setting out the future direction for social services in the next 10 years, is available on the website at: www.new.wales.gov.uk/consultations/currentconsultation/healandsoccarecurrcons/fulfilledlivessupportive?lang=en

-- The formal strategy is due to be launched early in 2007.

-- The All-Wales Social Services Conference was arranged to discuss the developments since Social Work in Wales: Professions to Value was published in August 2005. The report looked into the recruitment and retention of social workers in Wales and was produced by a group chaired by the Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru.

Fulfilled Lives, Supportive Communities

The Strategy for Social Services in Wales over the next decade Designed for Life - A World Class Health Service for Wales

Designed for Life is the Welsh Assembly Government's 10-year vision for creating world-class health and social care in Wales in the 21st century. Launched in May 2005, it describes the kind of health and social care services the people of Wales can expect by 2015 and how these can be developed. Its primary focus is on health services and health improvement.

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