As the Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, I’m fortunate to see some great work being done by front line practitioners, supported by managers and directors across Wales.
While there’s still room for improvement, there’s evidence that everyone working in social care wants to make a real difference to those people who rely on good care and support being available. It is often the hidden army of family and friend carers who are carrying the heavy load, but they need support from public services to sustain their caring roles.
Four significant events took place in September, which provided an opportunity for personal reflection.
The first was the National Social Care Conference, hosted jointly by Social Care Wales and the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru. This provided an opportunity for political and professional leaders to join front-line practitioners, to share international and local perspectives on social care, promote learning and share good practice from across the globe.
I was particularly interested in the evidence from Canada, which showed that money diverted from clinical healthcare into social welfare improves health and well-being and is more cost-effective.
This was followed by the Social Care Wales Accolades event, where finalists from across Wales enjoyed afternoon tea while eagerly waiting to see who had won the prestigious first prize in a range of categories to recognise and celebrate excellence in care.
We received almost 90 entries across seven award categories. The dedication and commitment demonstrated by all the finalists was humbling and the winning teams deserved the ovations they received.
The third event was hosted by the Wales Audit Office Good Practice Exchange Team and Academi Wales. I had the privilege of chairing the day, which focused on improving partnership-working to meet people’s needs.
A wide range of organisations attended, and we considered an anonymised case study, acted out by professionals, where the complex needs of an individual were being discussed by health, social care and voluntary sector professionals. Most of us recognised the poor practice that was demonstrated, especially the lack of involvement by the citizen and his family in meeting his needs.
Everyone who attended made a commitment to challenge this behaviour if they saw it in their own organisation. The challenge for all of us is to motivate every professional to do likewise.
Finally, I attended a de-briefing session for a Citizen Jury event that took place over three days at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Fifteen jurors had volunteered to hear from a range of witnesses about their experiences in social care since the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force in 2016.
The scene was set by Welsh Government officials who shared the political aspirations for the Act on the first day. Service users and social care providers from the third and statutory sectors provided evidence, with jurors questioning witnesses to help inform a report and recommendations.
The report will be published in November, but early indications suggest there are likely to be recommendations relating to improving information and advice, better involvement of citizens and some consistency in approach across Wales. I will share further information in my next article.