Another productive year has passed for Conwy’s Social Care team and we have certainly been busy. The major development for Social Care in Wales saw the implementation of the Social Services and Wellbeing Act in April 2016 and Conwy were well placed to meet the duties and requirements of a different approach to provision.
The concept of focusing on outcomes, wellbeing and reducing barriers to services is at the heart of our redesign and four years on I am proud to see some of those successes coming through such as the Community Wellbeing service which has seen the innovative range of community projects being supported for older adults, this has been recognised as good practice and is due to be showcased at the Social Services Conference 2017. The all-age Disability service has embedded and under the careful leadership of the service manager has blossomed into a thriving team focused on clear outcomes for all people with a disability. The Social Care and Education alignment has developed as a clear programme of development, one area being the development of the Additional Learning Needs team and closer working to ensure a robust approach to the awaited additional learning needs legislation in 2018.
The Vulnerable People service focused on the recovery model for those adults of all ages who are affected by mental vulnerability factors such as poor mental health or homelessness. The small team have been hugely innovative in their approaches and have received many compliments about their interventions. Clearly the Community Mental Health Teams are a focus of improvement following the concerning pressures they faced last October; there is an improvement plan and dedicated resource to ensure the status of the concerns are monitored by both the health board and the local authority’s democratic process.
We are working with our commissioned care providers in a much more proactive way and are finalising our commissioning strategy to this end, which has a heavy focus on older people being the largest population demand in Conwy and the largest demand for services.
I have been proud to see the development of the participation team, specifically the work of the youth council and the participation network has been impressive and valuable to the service, partners and the first iteration of the new Conwy Corporate Plan.
There continues to be challenges ahead, not least in terms of budgetary pressures but also the changing complexity and demand for social care requires a fresh approach and different ways of social work intervention. To this end we are looking to invest in a whole system change and implementing the strengths-based approach – Signs of Safety across all service areas.
Our workforce is important to us and although we have reduced in number we continue to enjoy a relatively stable team although there have been some areas where Social Work posts have been difficult to recruit to. We continue our partnership working with Bangor University to ensure the Master’s degree is influenced and shaped by our front line managers and have seen a small number of recruits join the team.
We look forward to the year ahead, particularly to using the new outcomes framework to better understand how our services are meeting need and as ever how we can improve in any way. My thanks go to all the staff and to the feedback we regularly receive which is key to our successes.
Jenny Williams Strategic Director of Social Services
Conwy County Borough Council