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Minister outlines hectic agenda for social work in Wales as plan for college is shelved

The Welsh Government used the BASW Cymru Awards to highlight “the far reaching consequences” of the work social workers undertake while also outlining huge changes to the environment in which services are to be delivered in future.

Speaking just a day after publishing a white paper on Regulation and Inspection and as the Social Services and Well-being Bill makes its way through the Welsh Assembly, Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services,emphasised that this was “a busy time in my portfolio”.

Central to the white paper is a plan to replace the Care Council for Wales with a National Institute of Care and Support aimed at leading the reform agenda for the social care workforce and improving the dissemination of best practice.

The revised plan for a National Institute follows a decision to shelve the previous proposal for a College of Social Care and Social Work, following strong opposition from BASW Cymru that the model would replicate the controversial arrangement in England following the establishment of The College of Social Work in 2012.

The proposed Institute would operate within a new legislative framework provided by the Social Services and Well-being Bill, which is currently undergoing second stage scrutiny by the National Assembly and that Ms Thomas insisted would see a “shift away from a case managed approach to a greater relationship with people”.

She added: “Social workers will need to work as part of teams in pooling resources, skill and expertise, to apply a multi-disciplinary approach to their work resulting in more integrated support for people.

“Looking ahead it will be more and more important for us to be working seamlessly across health and social care, and to collaborate effectively across local authority boundaries”

The minister pointed to a number of other changes set to impact on social work, including “the development and implementation of continuing professional education and learning” and specific leadership training for team managers, set to be followed by similar development opportunities for middle and senior managers.

Ms Thomas concluded with an endorsement of the BASW Cymru Awards, now into their fourth year. “I am pleased to be here today to speak to you and to take this opportunity to recognise your hard work and commitment which have far reaching consequences in the demanding work you do.  Social work rightly continues to have a high profile in public life and it is important for us to reflect on the value of the profession and its work.”