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Social Services Annual Director's Report

The report describes some of the key achievements and improvements in Adults and Children's Social Services for this period, as well as highlighting those areas of services where we have prioritised further improvements. It is important to note that the Director's Report is not limited to an internal self-assessment of Social Services by the Council.  It also draws on information from regulators, such as the CSSIW and Wales Audit Office by considering feedback and recommendations from their inspection and audit reports.  It also considers feedback from service users and the complaints and compliments processes.  Our partner agencies, such as Health and the Third Sector, were also consulted as part of the drafting of the Director's Report and their comments incorporated into the final version.

The report does describe a position of continued improvement within and across both services despite some of the challenges which are being experienced and are likely to increase over the next few years.

Our overriding priority is to ensure that we safeguard and protect children and adults who may be at risk of harm or abuse.  We have continued to improve the way which we ensure that this objective is met and our performance continues to be positive with proposals to further strengthen safeguarding support across Children's and Adults Services.

Alongside this we remain committed to ensuring, wherever it is possible or safe to do so, that we provide a range of services to support Children and Young People and Adults to remain within their own homes, families or communities.  There are many examples in this report of the work undertaken to prevent the breakdown of families or personal living arrangements.

We continue to focus on improving outcomes for people in need and how we promote and support people's sense of well-being.  The emphasis on a child/person centred approach has also been reflected in the way in which we are striving to involve individuals more in helping to shape services.

An ongoing priority for us is to support the development of a qualified well-trained staff group within the service, including continuous post-qualifying training through positive links with Glyndwr University and Yale College.  Our ability to recruit and retain qualified staff has also improved.  Having strong professional delivery teams of staff is key to ensuring effective quality services.

We have worked closely with our colleagues in the Health Service, the Voluntary/Third Sector, the Police, with other Council Departments and others.  Financial pressures and changes in the Health Service present on-going challenges in the delivery of social services.  This does require a stronger commitment and effort to move towards better integrated services and a joint approach to service and budget planning.  We are also engaged in the broader North Wales integration agenda.

We remain committed to supporting those unpaid/informal carers who are often relatives and friends and who provide essential support to their loved ones so that they can remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible and appropriate to do so.  Improvements to raising awareness and information/support for carers have continued as we see this is an on-going priority.

There are many other areas of improvement which are covered in more detail within this report.  We are at the same time faced with significant challenges which will impact on the shape of services to come.

The financial challenges we face are significant, alongside increased demographic changes and higher expectations for services.  The impact of Welfare Reform is beginning to be evident on demand for services and this is likely to increase.  Managing demand through more effective models of care becomes a major challenge.

The Council has given a commitment to prioritising services to the most vulnerable people and as a significant spender of the Council budget we will need to “re-shape” services to meet agreed needs.

The new Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act has now been introduced and will place new responsibilities and powers on Local Authority Social Services departments.  Whilst many of the objectives within the Act are warmly welcomed, there are will be financial implications to us.

The Act, however, does present a positive direction for services and also a number of challenges and opportunities for Social Services.  We are progressing many of the proposed changes already and support the need to transform services.  Some of the key themes in the Act include:

The Act also defines an “adult at risk” and “child at risk” and provides a new legal and statutory framework for the protection of adults at risk on a par with children's safeguarding.

Social Services, however, cannot be viewed in isolation as the care and support needs and general well-being of the people of Wrexham are affected by a range of factors at both a local and regional level.  It is therefore essential that we work towards more integrated services through effective joint working or collaboration and gain the support of our partners as well as other services within the Council.

Our objective in Social Services will always be to achieve a needs led service with a clear focus on how we improve peoples' daily living and their general level of well-being and safety.