Agenda Item No. 5


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 1st December, 2014


Report of the Director of Social Services


Report on the National Social Services Conference, June 2014


Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Scrutiny Committee on the National Social Services Conference 2014.


1.         That Scrutiny Committee notes the key messages to emerge from the Conference.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         To ensure that Members are kept informed about policy and service developments across Wales.


2.         The National Social Services Conference is the largest and most influential meeting of social care leaders and decision makers within Wales.  It is widely recognised as being the most important event of its kind for councillors, directors, senior officers, policy makers, service managers and service providers with responsibilities for children's services and adult social care in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors.  Over 250 delegates attended this year.

3.         This was seventh annual conference organised by ADSS Cymru, which provides professional leadership for social services across Wales.  It involved (as partners) the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, the Care Council for Wales, CSSIW and the NHS Confederation.  

4.         The conference theme was 'It’s about me: Putting People at the Centre of Care', with a focus on wellbeing and maximising people's potential by building upon individual and community capacity.  There was a full and varied programme.  Key note speeches were made by:

          Giovanni Isingrini, President, ADSS Cymru

          Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services, Welsh Government

          Dr Andrew Goodall - Director General for Health and Social Services and Chief Executive of NHS Wales

          Lucie Stephens, Head of Co-production, New Economics Foundation

          Albert Heaney, Director of Social Services and Integration, Welsh Government.

5.         There were three plenary sessions.

         Plenary 1: Perspectives in Safeguarding – Corporately and in Education

         Plenary 2: Transforming Services – Delivering Integration

         Plenary 3: Better Conversations at the Co-Production Table.

6.         Video recordings were made of keynote speakers and plenary sessions; these can be made available to Members on request.  A wide range of workshops gave participants an opportunity to hear about practical tools, skills and ideas to take back and apply in their organisation; the programme is attached at Appendix 1.  There were exhibitions that showcased work being done to: remodel children’s services; create effective regional safeguarding boards; develop a more resilient and resourceful social work profession; ensure good workforce planning to consolidate considerable improvements in training and development of staff across all levels of social care.  A Cross-Party Panel conducted a Question Time session, chaired by the Director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         Notwithstanding the wide range of interests and organisations represented within the conference, there was considerable consensus about how we should be seeking to tackle the challenges posed by policies and legislation adopted in Wales to deal with issues such as increasing demand, public services resource constraints and changing public expectations.  Most emphasis was placed on the aspirational aspects of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014:

·           seeking to promote wellbeing through prevention/early intervention;

·           providing information and advice;

·           developing new models of service which are more flexible and responsive;

·           promoting changes in the way we engage with people who depend upon us for care and support (with increased opportunities for service user and carer voice and control, better communication, exploring options); and

·           focusing on outcomes.

8.         Participants at the conference were clearly committed to ensuring that people’s voices and rights are central to decision-making as their circumstances change, focusing on their strengths and working with them creatively to maintain their independence.  

9.         However, there was significant concern that we must recognise too the risks involved to very vulnerable people and to service providers in not managing well enough a 'demand tsunami'.  This highlights a need for changes not only in the way public services as a whole promote wellbeing but perhaps also in the social compact.  There appears to be an emerging policy imperative that individuals, families and communities will be expected (wherever possible) to contribute more of their own resources and to reduce their expectations of public services - characterised as “seeking recovery and reablement, rather than rescue or cure”.

10.      In the NHS, this effort to rebalance rights and responsibilities is beginning to be badged as 'Prudent Health Care'.  Since the conference, Sue Evans (Chief Officer, Social Care and Housing, Torfaen County Borough Council) and Phil Evans (Director of Social Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council) have published an article on the Making Prudent Healthcare Happen resource website (, exploring how some of the concepts might apply in social care.  

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.      There are no resource implications as a direct consequence of this report.  However, the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 sets a whole range of new challenges; these will have to be met at a time of severe financial restraints for local government and social services.  The Welsh Government has made clear that there will be no additional resources for this purpose, apart from limited transitional funding.  Local authorities should remain very cautious about whether there will be sufficient resources available to meet increased commitments and expectations in the face of growing demand for services.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.      There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.      There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.      Social care service planning and delivery must take into account "Sustainable Social Services for Wales – A Framework for Action", which is the Welsh Government's ten-year strategy and the "More Than Just Words" framework, designed to promote a culture and workforce where language choice is offered actively as part of the process of understanding individuals and their needs.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.      Social services meets the following corporate objectives:

·           "To make the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable place in which individuals, children and families can live their lives to the full"; and

·           "To manage the Council's workforce, money and assets efficiently and effectively in order to maximise its ability to achieve it service aims."

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      These are matters for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      There are no matters in this report which relate to an individual ward.

Background Papers

18.      Scrutiny Committee Report: 3rd November, 2014: Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Contact Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

Officers Consulted


Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services