This year has been a particularly challenging period for Social Services in Conwy, and whilst I review the incredible activity of work we have delivered and highlighted in the report, I do this with much admiration for the dedication and commitment of our staff.
This period has brought with it significant and unprecedented budgetary challenges, yet we continue to offer good quality services and have invested in our approach to understanding what works for people and listening to the customer voice.
A key area of development over the past two years has been the establishment of a commissioning strategy. We are now pleased to be in the position of consulting with partners, the public and our customers and hope to launch this during the latter part of 2016.
Reviewing our services, demand and need as part of the research phase of our transformation programme has been invaluable to inform the commissioning strategy and helped our thinking as we develop the regional population needs assessment which is a key requirement of the Social Services and Wellbeing Act.
After much planning and preparation the ‘Act’ goes live in April and we are planning a series of training events for our staff alongside our public awareness campaigns on the changes to services locally and regionally. The key changes will be in relation to Information, Advice and Assistance requirements and Assessment with a focus on prevention. We have already developed our Conwy Access team to meet these new requirements alongside the use of Dewis, the digital information portal piloted in North Wales.
One of the areas that has seen significant progress this year is the Community Mental Health Service in Conwy. Through the perseverance of the new leadership arrangements across Social Services and Health locally we have been able to develop a number of initiatives to ensure the service is well placed to support and help individuals in a manner that is person centred and based on recovery and wellness.
The development of Community Wellbeing Service which supports the whole population follows this philosophy and the benefits we are seeing for individuals are positive although can prove challenging to measure. We continue to review our performance focussing on those areas which had shown a downward trend such as annual reviews of adults in care, timeliness of children’s initial and core assessments, recruitment of Foster Carers and those older care leavers we are in touch with.
There is still room for improvement however, there has been a steady positive change as we leave many of the traditional measures this year and look forward to the new outcomes measure following the implementation of the ‘Act’. This will be interesting to observe as we develop a very different regime for monitoring performance and outcomes for individuals who receive our services.
Finally, we bring our four year Social Services Transformation Programme to a close and move to a ‘business as usual’ phase. There is however never time to stand still as we look to the future and our growing alignment with education services and the opportunities this will bring.
Strategic Director of Social Services
Conwy County Borough Council
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