Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016 extends the responsibilities of the Care Council for Wales to include service improvement in addition to existing responsibilities for workforce regulation and development. From April 2017 it will be renamed Social Care Wales to reflect these changes.
This is an important change to the social care sector in Wales. I envisage Social Care Wales as a powerful and influential body with the ability to set strategic direction and support the sector to deliver improvement. During the development process the sector has been engaged in mapping the activities and structure of the body. Firstly, through the Ministerial established Strategic Improvement Steering Group and, more recently, through the transition to Social Care Wales Advisory Panel.
Chaired by Arwel Ellis Owen, Chair of the Care Council for Wales, and made up of representatives sector wide, the panel was established in May last year to develop a transition and communications plan. I am pleased to say I have received its final report which I have published today. I welcome the report and the direction of travel it sets out. There are some areas which will continue to develop but already there is a positive consensus across the sector about Social Care Wales and its potential.
The advice is centred around core themes which consider improving social care research and delivering service improvement, along with governance structures for the body and a communications plan to maximise the positive impact of the change.
I have asked Arwel Ellis Owen to steer the next transitional phase. From April 2016 to March 2017, he will chair a Care Council for Wales-led reference group with responsibility for implementing much of the advice and will play a key role in linking with other important work streams across the sector.
This reference group will take responsibility for delivering the communications plan and governance proposals. It will engage with the sector and public as part of its work.
Health and Care Research Wales will progress the research proposals set out in the report in 2016-17. Professor Jonathan Bisson, head of Health and Care Research Wales, will chair the Strategic Research Coordination Group, which will, from 2017-18, become part of Social Care Wales.
The group will develop a social care research strategy and coordinate, prioritise and monitor the performance of research activity funded by the Welsh Government.
I would like to thank members of the Transition to Social Care Wales Advisory Panel and its subgroups for their hard work and commitment.