Putting people at the centre of care will be the main theme of the National Social Services Conference in Llandudno, which will bring together councillors, directors, senior officers, policymakers and managers responsible for children's services and adult social care in the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Gio Isingrini, President of the Association of Director of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru, said the conference has a critical role to play in reminding social care leaders and decision-makers in Wales that the people receiving care and support are their top priority.
We live in times where there are so many factors to consider. There is new legislation, continuing financial constraints and significant changes in the age profile of the population. This can often lead to a focus on how we can organise ourselves to address these matters. However, in all this, we should not forget about what really counts - the people who use our services.
There are already many excellent examples all around Wales of services that put people first. What we need to ensure now is that, in these changing times, this approach becomes the standard for what people can expect from whoever is providing those services. We need to be bold and creative.
To bring this about, we need to take collaboration to a new level and have greater clarity of the results and outcomes we are aiming to achieve. This will mean working collectively across boundaries like health, education and housing. We want the conference to capture what needs to be different. It will be a place for all partners to contribute and learn together, for people who use services to share experiences and ideas, and an opportunity for constructive challenge and inspiration.
Delegates at the conference will hear from Ministers and Welsh Government leaders as they set out their picture for the future of social care in Wales. Other leading figures will also share important and inspirational experiences to help guide the development of social care across Wales. A wide range of workshops and speakers will provide practical and usable tools, skills and ideas for delegates to take back and apply in their organisations.
The conference at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, has been organised by ADSS Cymru, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Welsh Government, the Care Council for Wales, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Care Forum Wales. It takes place between 26 and 27 June. The full conference programme can be found on the ADSS Cymru website. (External link)
View from conference partners
Care Council for Wales
Rhian Huws Williams, Chief Executive of the Care Council, said:
The theme of this year's conference challenges us to not lose sight of the principle that underpins all our work: to focus on the needs and experiences of people who use care services. We need to make sure people’s voices and rights are central to decision-making as their circumstances change; focusing on people’s strengths and working with them to maintain their independence. It means working differently, to be imaginative and creative over time.
We need to acknowledge what is already available, the resources and skills we have and use evidence of what works well. At the Care Council, we're going to be focusing on cultural transformation and a workforce that will work in a different way. We must also plan for a workforce that can provide care and support services in Welsh, as well as English. We must create a culture where language choice is actively offered as part of the process of understanding individuals and their needs.
Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales
Imelda Richardson, Chief Inspector of the Care and Social Services Inspectorate, said:
Putting people at the heart of what we do is fundamental to our work and over the last four years we have changed from being an inspectorate that focused on checks and balances to an inspectorate that concentrates on people’s experiences.
The theme of this year’s conference is extremely important and high on the social services agenda but more must be done. Human rights for all of those in care must be considered. Cross-agency working to promote best practice within the sector on key issues such as leadership and integrating health and social care services will be critical to ensuring we have services fit for the future for the people of Wales.
Welsh Local Government Association
Cllr Mel Nott (Bridgend), WLGA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
Placing the people who use public services at the heart of how those services are delivered and run is central to a recent position paper issued by the Welsh Local Government Association entitled ‘In Defence of Localism’. Public services will always be at their most effective when they are shaped by the people who use them, and the Social Services and Wellbeing Wales Act has placed local government at the forefront of developing local, regional and national care services that can offer the flexibility and responsiveness that people need.
Wales’ local care services stand as a prime example, if local government is to be subject to reorganisation in the future, of why that reorganisation must be based around the needs of communities rather than any arbitrary map and a reduction of a vital debate on the future of Wales’ public services to the level of council numbers and council boundaries. As today’s conference will demonstrate, the question that we must all ask ourselves, at the outset of any future reorganisation process is ‘what do people in Wales need and want local government to deliver’. People trust local government to deliver their local services, and while continued public sector austerity, an ambitious legislative programme and a significant rise in public demand for services are all combining to make this a very challenging time, we simply must ensure that people in Wales continue to benefit from a level of local accountability that offers them a voice on the performance and design of the public services that they rely on.