A social care leader has welcomed new legislation to beef up regulation of the sector but warns it will not work unless there is a “fundamental change of culture”.
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, it was vital to “change the DNA in Wales to ensure everybody involved in worked together in collaboration.
Care Forum Wales are also calling for the people from local authorities and health boards who commission social care services to be regulated so that their decisions are based on quality not price.
The new law to strengthen the regulation and inspection of the social care sector was announced by Health Minister Professor Mark Drakeford.
According to the Welsh Government, care home owners will become more accountable for the services they provide to protect children and adults.
Prof Drakeford said the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill, would put delivering success at the heart of a “revised and streamlined legal framework”.
Mr Kreft said: ““Care Forum Wales would want to support the overall thrust of the legislation.
“It is some time since the current regulations and legal system were put in place and, as the minister said, we’ve got many more people with complex needs receiving services at home.
“The people living in care homes have very complex needs, much more so than 20 years ago.
“It is therefore absolutely the right time on the back of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which has created this new framework, that we now match that with a new regulatory framework, and there are certain aspects that we would certainly welcome.
“But there are also areas of concern. The reality is that in Wales today we have a struggling health and social care system.
“It’s struggling because of demand and because we are not harnessing the resources that we already have at our disposal.
“People in Wales are not working in partnership in the way that the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown in other parts of the UK makes a real difference in terms of efficiency of resources, quality of service delivery through what we call relationship centred care.
“Unfortunately, this new legislation will change little unless we really harness all the resources at our disposal and particularly recognise that social care is a fundamental cornerstone of the NHS in Wales.
“Independent social care in Wales is being decimated by flawed commissioning practices which put price before quality.
“As a result, morale in the sector among providers and the workforce is very low.
“It means we cannot attract enough of the right quality of people, because the economic model that most local authorities are using does not make it possible to make this a career to be proud of with all the things that you would expect for those skills.
“While the big stick will always be what you require when things go terribly wrong, we’ve really got to have a new approach.
“We are calling for the commissioners from local authorities and health boards to be regulated in their commissioning strategies and procedures.
“At the moment, the way social care is commissioned does not support quality services and this is backed up by the findings of the recent report by the Commissioner for Older People.
“We’re really talking about what the Commissioner for Older People also wants – that’s a better quality of life. It has to be about support, it has to be about, building for the future, and particularly respecting and valuing social care workers who provide those services.
“The most important thing that we can do in Wales is to change within our DNA so that we work collaboratively and see social care as a great positive, as a part of our community in the way that it underpins the economy and the NHS – and underpins indeed our society.
“We’ve had now nearly 20 years whereby social care funding for independent sector organisations has been held within local authorities.
“The progress that we’ve made is lamentable. Yes there are pockets of good practice, but that’s not good enough for a small nation of three million people. We should have got this right by now.
“This new law will go some way, but if we don’t fundamentally change the way we do business, if we don’t fundamentally change the way we work collaboratively, if we don’t fundamentally value providers and their workforce and just hit them when it goes wrong, then quite frankly this will not make the progress and provide the framework that the minister wants it to do.”