Providing high quality social services is like building a solid home for the long term. That’s according to Dylan Owen, the head of transformation for adult social care in Powys.
Mr Owen was speaking at a Social Care Wales event about the challenges of providing rural social care at the Royal Welsh Show on 26 July 2017.
During the discussion, Mr Owen said councils strive to provide care and support for people by building structures that are strong enough to stay in place for the long term, independent of council support.
Mr Owen also talked about the challenges of providing social care in rural areas, where the costs are 25 per cent higher, saying “community is at the core of well-being, especially in the countryside.”
But he acknowledged “you can’t commission a community” and rural councils need to work alongside voluntary groups and unpaid carers.
Mary Wimbury, the interim chief executive of Care Forum Wales, which represents private care providers, said more flexibility is needed to provide effective social care to people in rural areas. She also said that regulations often make social care in the countryside more challenging.
During the event, a large audience of leading national and local politicians, influential rural organisations, care providers, trade unions and academics heard evidence from people who provide unpaid care in rural Wales.
The meeting also heard from Lilly Warren, a member of the 50 Plus Engage Forum in Builth Wells, which provides an opportunity for people to have their say on services for older people. She spoke about the challenges and rewards of caring for her husband, and called on rural councils to preserve mobile libraries and public transport services.
Elonwy Williams, the welfare officer for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution in west Wales, also spoke at the event and said that many farmers faced loneliness and mental health problems.
In his closing remarks, Dylan Owen said that the purpose of public services was to provide freedom to people so that they could live their lives independently. He compared their work to that of builders who use scaffolding to build a home and quoted the poet Seamus Heaney, who said: “we may let the scaffolds fall, confident that we have built our wall.”
The meeting was kindly hosted by the Farmers Union of Wales at their pavilion.