In a speech to the Association of Directors of Social Services spring seminar, he said the government would unveil a strategy for integrated adult services this summer, inviting his audience to shape it.
He said the government's plans to split up social services departments, by putting child social care under the responsibility of children's services directors, did not signal a downgrading of adult care.
He also tackled fears the split would suck adult care into the NHS.
He said the strategy would seek to shift adult care towards promoting independence through preventative, community services and away from simply providing a safety net.
ADSS president Andrew Cozens welcomed the speech, saying: 'It's something we've been calling for that we would like to help shape.
'The very important message is that there's no question of any takeover by the NHS.'
Graham Farrant, chief executive of Barking & Dagenham LBC, where an experiment in joint management arrangements with the local primary care trust failed, said: 'To get [different organisational] cultures to mix, people will have to be more open about the cultures they have.'
The ADSS has agreed to widen its ranks to reflect structural changes to social services.
At last week's spring seminar, the association voted unanimously to extend membership to children's services directors and chief executives of care trusts, which integrate social services and health.
The move follows the Association of Chief Education Officers' decision to admit children's services directors (LGC, 23 April).