The Welsh Government has published a recovery framework to support the social care sector as it recovers from the impact of Covid-19.
In her introduction to the framework, Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan acknowledges that the “the long term impact of this pandemic will be unparalleled and it will take the world years to recover”. The framework is intended to focus “specifically on the immediate and short to medium term priorities which will underpin the recovery and future development of social care in Wales”. It is part of a wider approach from Welsh Government that includes ‘Improving Health and Social Care (Covid-19 Looking Forward)’ (March 2021) and Welsh Government’s Programme for Government’ (2021).
The Deputy Minister states in the framework’s introduction that “the personal impact of the pandemic must not be underestimated. This pandemic has affected us all, but particularly children and young people, disabled people, unpaid carers and older people, to name but a few. As a result it is critically important that the key focus of our recovery planning is on well-being and ensuring that all people in Wales, whatever their experiences of Covid-19, are supported to start to move from a position of response into recovery.”
The social care recovery framework is aimed at enabling the social care sector to plan effectively for recovery, based on the experiences of Covid-19, and work towards achieving the following outcomes:
- People who need care and support (including children and young people), their families, and carers who need support, recover from the impact of Covid-19, have voice and control in how recovery is managed, experience that their rights are upheld, and are able to achieve the well-being outcomes that matter most to them.
- The social care sector recovers from the impact of Covid-19, has a renewed focus on equality and well-being, is more resilient with strengthened partnerships, and is prepared for future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
- The social care workforce, including third sector partners, recovers from the impact of Covid-19, has increased profile, is sustainable, has capacity, is appropriately skilled and rewarded and has access to ongoing development and well-being support.
- Social care providers and employers recover from the impact of Covid-19 with renewed resilience, greater stability and increased use of innovation, alongside a stronger focus on rights and well-being, recognising the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on people who need care and support and carers who need support, and the additional demands that will need to be met as a direct result.
The recovery framework sets out the immediate priorities (to September 2021) that need to be delivered urgently and the short to medium term priorities (September 2021 – March 2022) that are less urgent but need to be prioritised for completion within the next 12 months. The longer term priorities for social care in Wales are set out in the Welsh Government’s ‘Programme for Government’.
Immediate priorities (from now to September 2021) include:
- Ensuring the recovery planning has well-being and ‘what matters’ at its core for people who are receiving care and support, unpaid carers who need support and the social care workforce. In particular, recovery planning will focus on reducing inequalities and avoiding disproportionate impacts, especially for people with protected characteristics
- Recovery planning will include considerations of prevention and early intervention, in the spirit of the Social Services and Well-being Act. Consideration will span the range of care and support, or support recipients, including unpaid carers and people with a learning disability, and will consider concepts such as Social Prescribing.
- Welsh Government will continue to provide funding to ensure that a wide range of specialist advocacy provision is available to adults, children and unpaid carers, especially in cases where advocacy is needed as direct result of the impact of Covid-19. This includes a commitment under Welsh Government’s Programme for Government to prevent families breaking up by funding advocacy services for parents whose children are at risk of coming into care.
- Promoting safe visiting at care homes, while ensuring the rights of older people and people with learning disabilities in care homes and housing settings are protected.
- Ensuring that the risk of Covid-19 entering care homes in Wales is minimised through effective infection prevention and control supported by relevant training and guidance and PPE, adherence to the hospital discharge guidance, safe visiting approaches, and using the testing resources available.
Short to medium priorities (September 2021 to March 2022) include:
- Identify and address the extensive range of ‘hidden harms’ of Covid-19, including the longer term implications of these harms for people who need care and support, unpaid carers who need support and the social care workforce.
- Support older and disabled people to remain or return to being active members of their local communities, and enabling people’s ability to remain active and independent in their own homes.
- Implement and monitor the strategy on tackling loneliness and isolation, ‘Connected Communities’, and launch a three year £1.5m Loneliness and Isolation Fund in order to help build strong relationships and connections within communities and share good practice.
- A review commissioned by Welsh Government of the demand, capacity and design of neurodevelopmental services (including autism) to inform future service improvements will consider the impact of Covid-19.
- Welsh Government will work with partners to review what access people with learning disabilities have to advocacy services (including support for self-advocacy) and respond to gaps.
- Prioritise in recovery planning the response to the ‘Improving Care, Improving Lives’ comprehensive review of specialist learning disability in-patient provision. This will include improving quality in commissioned services and increasing provision of community-based support, appropriate housing and accommodation.
- Reflecting on the way the pandemic has brought into sharp relief the health inequalities faced by people with a learning disability who have associated increased health risks, the Welsh Government will explore options for providing a Cluster Level Approach to Delivery of Learning Disability Health Checks.
- Welsh Government will work with partners to take forward its linked ‘Programme for Government’ commitments to provide additional specialist support for children with complex needs who may be on the edge of care.
- “Radical reform” of current services for looked after children and care leavers will be explored. Private profit from the care of looked after children will be ended during the next Senedd term.
- Funding for regional residential services for children with complex needs, ensuring their needs are met as close to home as possible and in Wales wherever practicable.
- Supporting older and disabled people’s independence at home, the Welsh Government will seek to work with the social care sector to increase the capacity and reach of domiciliary care through a variety of means, including linking this to the Welsh Government’s commitment to the Foundational Economy.
- The Welsh Government will seek to advance “parity of esteem” between workers in the health and social care sectors, including working towards improvements in terms and conditions and implementing the Real Living Wage for social care workers during this Senedd term.
Progress with recovery planning will be reviewed and reported on twice within the 2021-22 financial year. The first review point will take place in September 2021 following implementation of the immediate priorities and the second review will take place in March 2022 following implementation of the short-medium term priorities.