Agenda Item No. 6


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 2nd November, 2015


Report of the Director of Social Services


Report on the National Social Services Conference, June 2015


Purpose of the Report

  1. To update Scrutiny Committee on the National Social Services Conference 2015.


  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.


  1. 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.
  2. This was eighth 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.
  3. The conference theme was 'Delivering Together: It's about all of us'. It built on the learning from last year's conference, where we concentrated on how to put people at the centre of care and how to maximise their potential by building individual and community capacity. This time, however, there was greater emphasis on planning and delivering social care services across agencies and shifting the power in relationships to encourage more equality and shared responsibility.
  4. There was a full and varied programme. Key note speeches were made by:

Sue Evans, President, ADSS Cymru

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

Albert Heaney, Welsh Government's Director of Social Services and Integration

Sally Holland, newly appointed Children's Commissioner for Wales

Karyn McCluskey, Co-Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit

Kriss Akabusi, Olympic Gold Medal Winner and formerly looked after child

Professor Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services, was scheduled to speak but his plane never took off from Rhoose because of fog.

  1. There was a plenary session on Strategic Partnership - Making it happen and a cross-party panel conducted a Question Time session. 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. There were exhibitions that showcased work being done across Wales. The conference brochure is attached at Appendix 1.
  2. Video recordings of keynote speakers and plenary sessions are available on the following link There is also a short summary video and an important documentary called Voices which contains short films about the experiences and expectations of service users (some of whom figure also in the videos of Vale residents shown previously to Members). If time allows, these will be viewed during the Scrutiny Committee meeting.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. 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. Much emphasis was placed on the aspirational aspects of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014:
  • providing information and advice
  • seeking to promote well-being through prevention/early intervention;
  • 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 well-being outcomes.
  1. 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.
  2. 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' in health and social care. This highlights a need for changes not only in the way public services as a whole promote well-being 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".
  3. In the NHS, this effort to rebalance rights and responsibilities is badged as 'Prudent Health Care'. 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. The new Act and the accompanying regulations appear to be rather ambivalent about how we can reconcile potentially increased eligibility for care and support and a focus on more personalised, responsive forms of help with an emphasis on promoting preventative services, information, advice and assistance. This will be one of the key debates as we move towards implement new statutory responsibilities.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. 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 and growing cost pressures. 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)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. These are matters for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Background Papers

  1. Monthly Scrutiny Committee Reports on 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