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Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services

First published:
16 April 2013
Last updated:

This was published under the 2011 to 2016 administration of the Welsh Government

I have set out my ambitions for social services in “Sustainable Social Services: A Framework for Action” and in the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Bill. I know that this is an ambitious Bill, and I believe that is absolutely right.

I have made it clear that our policy is all about the well-being of people who need care and support and carers who need support.  It is about people having control over their daily lives, supporting them in what matters to them. With this in mind, the Bill sets out a definition of well-being for people. This is at the heart of the transformation we are delivering through the Sustainable Social Services for Wales programme.

Well-being is a core theme in our Programme for Government across portfolio areas. Well-being is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility. We need to work together across Welsh Government, across sectors and agencies to promote well-being. My statement focuses on the well-being of people who need care and support and carers who need support.  This is about giving people a stronger voice and greater control over their lives, and ensuring people get the care and support they need to lead fulfilled lives.

When we talk about well-being, we also talk about outcomes for people. I believe that delivering on our commitment to a National Outcomes Framework is vital and when I consulted on my approach to the Outcomes Framework there was strong support for this approach. I am confident that this is the way we can really achieve better well-being and greater voice and control for the people we are seeking to support. I am convinced that publishing the work we have done with stakeholders to begin to build our outcomes framework should be done now. It sets the context in a clear and unequivocal way for our vision of the future sustainable social services.

We have involved people in building this first level of the National Outcomes Framework, which is my well-being statement. While, as you might expect, there are a range of views on.what should be included, I am pleased that there is overwhelming common ground.

My officials have engaged with a range of stakeholders as they developed the well-being statement, and focused in the first instance on looked after children as a priority. In developing this work, we have taken a rights based approach, based on United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We have developed the well-being statement with children and young people, and will continue to do so.

I am grateful to all of the members of the task & finish group for the work that they have done, not only within the group meetings, but to work with their constituents outside the meetings to bring forward proposals for inclusion in the framework. I want to thank those children and young people who participated, and Voices from Care for facilitating that work. I want to thank members of my Citizens’ Panel who contributed to enrich this discussion.  NSPCC very helpfully set the context for this work with their conference last October. I was delighted to introduce the WCVA, I Matter, We Matter campaign, which focused on outcomes for people. They were able to reach out to four thousand people, and I am very pleased that this provided valuable input into the well-being statement. All of the inputs we have had are shared with colleagues across portfolios, and we will find them of great value as we continue to develop the detail of our overall approach to giving people a stronger voice and improving well-being.  I want to urge those who have shared what matters to them to continue to stay engaged as we progress this work in years ahead.

The well-being statement builds on the Bill definitions and articulates what Welsh Government expects for people who need care and support and carers who need support. Following on from this we will continue to develop an Outcomes Framework,   outcomes measures and the performance framework which will underpin the Outcomes Framework.

We will then have a transparent approach to setting out what outcomes people should expect, and what services are contributing to achieve well-being. We will have information that will enable us to learn what is working well and what isn’t, to inform our policies nationally, and our practice locally.

I want to share with you what we have, through our programme of work, identified as the high level statements that set out clearly what people can expect, and what services must support people to achieve. We will expect the social care sector to use these statements to design and deliver services with users and carers.

I hope you agree with me that these statements encapsulate key aspects which anyone of us would want for ourselves and our loved ones. They are powerful in setting out expectations, and helping further shape the new models of service that are being seeded across Wales.

What we have sought to do is to develop, with people, a set of statements which describe what makes up well-being and the measures we will use to establish what progress is being made.  These clear statements are at the heart of what we are trying to secure in delivering sustainable social services for the future. These are what people can expect. By sharing these now, we can continue our collaborative approach towards a complete Outcomes Framework and the performance framework which underpins it.

The Outcomes Framework is an important part of our whole approach to improvement and my well-being statement leads the way. We are committed to providing additional support for improvement, and in the next year or so, I see that support as being targeted at the transformation of services to ensure that the well-being of people who need care and support and carers who need support is enhanced. Therefore, I intend to target our improvement funding of around £2million at support for transformation, and enhancing the leadership of that agenda.

As we begin to see the development of the Outcomes Framework, we will have stronger evidence on which to base our targeted support for local delivery. This will inform our approach to social services improvement and our outline three year plan, the first of which I am publishing today. This plan sets out how we plan to support strategic improvement across the whole sector, and sets out the principles on which we will operate. It will be refreshed annually.

You will see in the plan that I will be establishing a Strategic Improvement Steering Group for Well-Being in 2013. This is an exciting development, and one which I believe will really help us drive forward our own unique approach to ensuring that we in Wales really support the well-being of our citizens.

This is about everyone working towards the same set of important outcomes, from portfolio areas across Welsh Government to local authorities to the NHS, the voluntary and private sector. It is about leaders in social services demonstrating the importance of social care and articulating how they want to reshape services to best meet the needs of the community. The Outcomes Framework and our overall approach to improvement will shine a spotlight on what needs to be done to improve people’s well-being. It is all about learning and involving people who need care and support and carers who need support and front line staff, who are absolutely critical to making the transformation we seek happen.

The regulators have an important role to play in raising the quality of practice and services. We will be bringing forward a White Paper on Regulation and Inspection in the Summer.

I believe that our overall approach will provide a strategic framework of policy and legislation for improvement where organisations – commissioners and providers – are responsible for the delivery of high quality services which contribute to well-being. I want to provide that strategic context and support to enable this vital change to happen.