Agenda Item No. 11


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 6th October, 2014


Joint Report of the Director of Social Services and the Director of Resources


Workforce Challenges Facing Providers of Social Care


Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Committee Members on current and future workforce challenges in social care.


1.         That Committee Members note the issues regarding the social care workforce and the challenges facing the Social Services Directorate in ensuring that social care services are timely, effective, safe and professional.

2.         That Committee Members note the proposed changes to the Social Care Workforce Development Programme (SCWDP) grant funding.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that Elected Members can exercise proper oversight of a key function of the Social Services Directorate.

2.         To ensure Elected Members are aware of funding changes that will have an impact on Social Services.


2.         In February 2011, the Deputy Minister for Social Services announced a new strategic plan for putting social services on a sound footing, "Sustainable Social Services for Wales – A Framework for Action".  At Section 3, the strategy sets out eight priorities for action to be introduced in support of renewal, one of which is 'a confident and competent workforce'.  The policy intent is to ensure that social care services will be made available through 'a strong and professional delivery team'.

3.         This is a very challenging agenda, both now and in the future.  There are significant workforce challenges in a number of service areas, especially those which are high volume such as older people's care and support where the current workforce is too often poorly paid, with low qualification levels and little in the way of a career structure.  Public expectations about quality of care are rising, despite reducing resources for public services and growing demand.  The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 will introduce even higher standards and significant training requirements, without any commitment by Welsh Government to provide additional funding.

4.         For these reasons, the Council places considerable emphasis on workforce planning as a key process for identifying and addressing the gaps between the workforce of today and the human resource needs of tomorrow.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, there are over 2,000 people working in the social care sector.  These staff work in Council managed services and in services provided independently by the commercial and third sectors.  They provide support in a wide range of settings including people's homes, residential and nursing homes, day services settings.

5.         For providers of social care, staff are the principal resource.  The Social Services Directorate is required to work with the wider social care sector in the area to support providers in developing and delivering workforce plans for all staff.  This is achieved via a Social Care Workforce Partnership which comprises representatives from the Council, the care sector and the further education (FE) sector.  Through this Partnership, improvements have been made to:

  • identify and address training gaps;
  • ensure development opportunities are available across the care sector in the Vale;
  • develop a productive relationship with the local FE College.

6.         Over recent years, the Social Services Directorate has improved considerably the quality of care and support available to people in need.  Many of these achievements have been grounded in the contribution and involvement of our staff.  We benefit from having a stable, well-experienced and well qualified staff group.  Our use of agency staff is kept at low levels.  Where staff turnover has occurred, the Directorate has been successful in recruiting to vacant posts within acceptable timescales, thereby minimising the impact on service delivery.  There is a strong relationship with the trade unions.  The Heads of Service meet formally with the recognised trade unions on a monthly basis which enables timely discussions to take place with regards to current and future workforce issues.  These meetings have ensured early engagement with the unions resulting in stronger proposals and timely support for staff through periods of change.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The Vale of Glamorgan Workforce Plan 2013 - 2017 outlines the key workforce issues facing the Council and identifies the following key themes:

  • a change in the numbers of directly employed staff;
  • a more flexible and agile workforce;
  • an increasing emphasis on staff engagement;
  • a workforce whose skills and abilities are used to the full;
  • effective responses to recruitment issues;
  • the development of new leadership skills;
  • a workforce in partnership; and
  • a workforce reflecting the wider community.

8.         As part of this work, the Social Services Workforce Plan 2013 - 17 was developed.  It is helping us to ensure that a sufficient, skilled, safe and focused workforce is available to meet assessed needs.  The plan addresses issues of recruitment and retention, vetting, registration, competences, qualifications, skill-mix, training needs and support requirements.  It identifies key service objectives and the future workforce implications.

  • In Adult Services, the focus upon reablement and independence will mean increased numbers of therapy posts.
  • Improvements in the choices available for service users (such as direct payments) and an emphasis on early prevention will require a cultural change involving co-production of assessments and care plans.
  • More staff will need to have skills required to manage budgets.
  • As service users exercise increased choice and are helped to become less dependent on statutory services, more staff will need to have the skills required to manage risk situations with confidence.
  • We need to tackle recruitment hotspots in particular areas such as the Youth Offending Service and intake posts in Children's Services.
  • An ageing workforce requires better succession planning and occupational support.

9.         The register of Social Care Workers was established under the Care Standards Act 2000 and it is the legal basis for registration of the social care workforce.  The Register puts social care workers on a similar footing to other public service professions such as medicine and teaching.  Currently, staff from all sectors who are Social Workers, Student Social Workers, Residential Child Care managers, Residential Child Care staff, Residential Care (Adults) managers and Domiciliary Care managers have to be registered to carry out their duties.

10.      Everyone on the Register will have shown their suitability for work in social care by satisfying the Care Council for Wales (CCfW) that they:

  • have the necessary qualifications;
  • are physically and mentally fit;
  • are of good character; and
  • agree to comply with the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers.

11.      The CCfW investigates cases if there is ever any evidence that calls into question someone's suitability for work in social care.  There are a range of sanctions available including deregistration or the imposition if conditions such as training, work experience, or restrictions due to health.  The Register is available for members of the public and employers to check.

12.      Each registered individual must renew their registration every three years by submitting evidence of a minimum of 90 hours  / 15 days continuing professional development.  Non-compliance can result in the suspension or cancellation of registration.  The Vale of Glamorgan has supported current staff to complete their professional social work qualification for a number of years, recognising the ability of current staff who have not previously had the opportunity to undertake such qualifications.

13.      CCfW has been tasked by the Welsh Government with raising the profile of social care as a profession.  It is currently consulting on a new social work career pathway.  This means that social workers will have to complete named qualifications within the Continuing Professional and Educational Learning Framework to be able to register and to undertake certain professional roles.  It is also proposed that this requirement is extended to staff in Social Work Assistant roles.  These proposals will have a direct impact on the training and development opportunities required by social workers and social care officers within the local authority and its partner agencies.  Courses to meet these requirements have been designed and they will be delivered regionally or as nationally agreed programmes.

14.      The training programme for social care in the Vale of Glamorgan is developed annually and reflects the training requirements identified thorough the Council's Personal Development Review process and the training returns submitted by social care providers from across the area.  The Programme also reflects the future requirements of the sector by including training to meet changes required due to legislative changes or service developments.  Training is made available to all social care providers across the Vale who are encouraged to release their staff to attend the broad spectrum of training available.

15.      The Council works positively with the local FE provider, Cardiff and Vale College, to provide the qualifications required by front-line staff, foster carers and care managers.  A Bursary Scheme has been in place between the College and the Council for a number of years.  It enables providers to access training opportunities for their staff which have been quality assured and which are known to result in staff completing their awards within reasonable time scales.  Three cohorts of staff start each year in January, April and September.  The impact of this scheme on qualification levels within the care sector in the Vale has been very positive.

16.      As the resources available to fund training are likely to reduce in the future and providers are finding it more difficult to release staff for training during normal working hours, much work is being done to promote the use of e-learning.  During 2013/2014 considerable investment enabled all service providers to use the Learning Pool, which provides a considerable number of training opportunities online.  IT equipment was made available to ensure that staff are able to access training at a time and venue that is most supportive to their learning needs.

17.      The introduction of more integrated working across health and social care will require staff to develop different skills.  A collaborative approach across the UHB and the council is helping to meet these new demands, especially in areas such as the Community Resource Service.  Where appropriate, training is being commissioned across agencies to ensure it meets the requirements of staff.  Beyond the Social Services Directorate, the main care section recruitment and retention issue in the Vale currently (and beyond) involves qualified nurses within nursing homes.

18.      There are considerable ramifications for the social care workforce as a consequence of the Regulation and Inspection Bill Wales.  The proposed timetable for the Bill is as follows.

  • October 2014 - Drafting of the Bill
  • February 2015 - Introduction of the Bill into the Assembly
  • June 2015 - Stage 1 Committee to report to the Assembly on general principles.
  • July 2015 - stage 1 General principles debate
  • Provisionally November 2015 - Stage 4 vote
  • End of 2015 - Royal Assent.

19.      Potentially, the Bill will increase considerably the duties of service providers, especially in taking responsibility for the skills and conduct of staff.

  • Regulation and inspection will be based on people's outcomes, service specific quality standards and expectations.
  • The service regulation regime will move from just compliance to compliance and quality.
  • Providers will be required to produce an annual report which will include information on outcomes and complaints.
  • A quality judgement framework linked to outcomes will be introduced.
  • A service-based regulatory model will be introduced.
  • The responsible individual and service provider requirements will be overhauled.
  • Registration fees will be considered.
  • Annual reports from providers and local authorities will be published in a standard format, comparable across all providers.
  • A new duty will be placed on regulators to share information when a citizen's wellbeing is in danger.
  • There will be new annual position statements from local authorities, setting out the local arrangements for care now and in the future.
  • Regulators will be required to assess corporate and financial robustness of key providers.
  • The Care Council for Wales will be reconstituted as a National Institute of Care and Support to further professionalise the workforce and to deliver service improvement.
  • The current approach to registration of the social care workforce will continue, with new groups considered as appropriate.
  • Welsh Government will have extensive new powers in areas such as regulation of training, professional recognition on registers and reserved functions.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.      Training in Social Services is supported via the SCWDP from the Welsh Government which provides financial assistance to local authorities to meet the training requirements on the social care sector.

21.      The SCWDP grant is intended as a 'significant supplement' to employers’ own resources to provide training and development opportunities across the social care workforce.  The grant is distributed using the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) formula with 70% of the total spend being funded by grant and 30% funded by the local authority.  In 2013/2014, for the Vale of Glamorgan, the total spend on training within social services was £450,000.

22.      The Welsh Government has signalled its intention to change significantly the way the grant is allocated in the future and it has invited local authorities to provide information on committed spend on planned training for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.  It is likely that the funding available directly to local authorities to support training will be reduced in future years and there will be increased prescription about meeting central government objectives.  The potential impact of any changes in this area on the development and support opportunities available for social care staff across the sector is being assessed currently.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

23.      There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.      The Social Care and Wellbeing (Wales) Act will have training implications for staff across the care sector, although the full impact of this will not be clear until all of the details in the regulations are known.  It is anticipated that the Welsh Government will require a move towards a regional and national approach to training and development.

Crime and Disorder Implications

25.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising directly from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

26.      All training and development procedures and opportunities will have to meet the Welsh Language Standards by December 2014.

Corporate/Service Objectives

27.      This report meets the corporate objective "Develop a new HR strategy including a Training and Development strategy ensuring that staff are supported and engaged to provide services to the highest possible standard".

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.      The training programme is compiled following consultation with managers across social care in the Vale regarding their workforce development needs.

Background Papers

Continuing Professional Education and Learning Framework for Social Workers (CPEL)


National inspection in respect of the role of the Statutory Director of Social Services, CSSIW


Social Care Workforce Development Programme Circular 201, Welsh Government


Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, National Assembly for Wales


The future of regulation and inspection of care and support in Wales White Paper, Welsh Government


The national career pathway for Social Workers, ADSS Cymru


Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation


Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Head of Human Resources

Training and Development Manager, Social Services


Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

Sian Davies, Director of Resources