Stakeholders’ health and social care priorities for the next Welsh Government (part 3)

4 December 2015

Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Preventative services, independent advocacy, social care and human rights.

In the run up to the 2016 Assembly elections, stakeholders are producing manifestos and briefings, aiming to influence political party manifestos in Wales.

This is the third and final blog post in a series highlighting the key health and social care issues identified by stakeholders as priority actions for the next Welsh Government to undertake in the fifth Assembly term.

NB: The first blog post covered NHS workforce, Health Impact Assessments, performance targets, and access to health professionals. The second blog post covered mental health, carers, dementia and cancer.Pic 3 English

Preventative services

The Allied Health and Social Care professionals in Wales have produced a joint manifesto (PDF 250KB) calling on political parties to re-state their commitment to community based preventative and early intervention services which enable people to live their lives as independently as possible.

A recent Wales Audit Office (WAO) report concluded that many preventative services are undervalued, and demand for health and social services may continue to rise as a consequence. The Auditor General commented that there insufficient emphasis is being placed on prevention, and he would be keen to see this addressed.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales wants to see increased funding for community support and befriending services to tackle loneliness and isolation. The Commissioner states in her manifesto:

Loneliness and isolation must be recognised as a key public health issue, for both older people and the rest of society, so that it can be properly addressed.

Age Alliance Wales also focuses on the need to support the development of social networks and preventative initiatives in its manifesto (PDF, 19KB). The Alliance is calling for the protection of local services which support older people to maintain their independence. It also wants the next Welsh Government to ensure that:

  • Local authorities and local health boards fully consider the impact of cuts to public services on the lives of older people today and on future generations.
  • Older people have access to community based information and advocacy services.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales similarly calls for investment in independent advocacy across Wales, ‘to ensure that those older people who are most vulnerable have an effective voice or someone to speak for them’.

Improving social care

Age Cymru is calling for commitments to:

  • Register domiciliary care workers to help professionalise care services and ensure that adequate protection is available for people receiving care at home
  • Ensure that appropriate training is provided to all care workers in Wales, to help guarantee that older people receive dignified and quality social care that meets their needs, irrespective of the setting where care is being delivered

[Contact Age Cymru for further information]

The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) is calling for a Continuing Professional Education and Learning (CPEL) Framework for occupational therapists in social care, as it argues this is currently an area of inequality. The COT states that occupational therapists in social care do not have the same career development and professional learning opportunities as colleagues throughout the NHS and social workers in social care. [Contact the COT for further information].

Leonard Cheshire Disability Wales is calling on political parties to ensure that the introduction of a National Living Wage in Wales does not detrimentally affect the provision of social care. [Contact Leonard Cheshire for more information].

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ manifesto (PDF, 120KB) includes calls to:

  • Develop more young person-centred transition arrangements, including some services for young adults up to 25
  • Commit to adequate resources for recruiting and supporting sufficient high quality foster homes
  • Extend the When I am Ready scheme (which currently applies to fostering) to children in residential children’s homes to enable the option of extending their placement until they are 21
  • Commit to implement a national action plan on Child Sexual Exploitation that will ensure consistency of response throughout Wales
  • Commit to introducing legislation which ensures that children under 18 have the same protection from physical punishment as adults, i.e. removing the current legal defence of ‘reasonable punishment’

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales wants the next Welsh Government to introduce a duty of candour within public services and ensure that people working in public authorities can be held to account for failures of care.

Human rights

A common theme in manifestos is the need for a rights based approach. Both of the Commissioners and Disability Wales stress the need to embed human rights and the respective United Nations Convention/Principles in Welsh policy, legislation and public service delivery.

The Disabled People’s Manifesto published by Disability Wales also includes calls for an Independent Living (Wales) Bill in the Legislative Programme for the Fifth Assembly which would provide a legal right to independent living for disabled people.

Stakeholders will be monitoring political party manifesto pledges in the run up to the election to see how they align with their own manifesto calls. Only time will tell what the next Welsh Government’s health and social care priorities will be in the fifth Assembly.