1970. British Association of Social Work replaced 7 previous organisations

BASW was inaugurated on 24th April 1970. The organisations that came together to form the new body were: The Institute of Medical Social Workers (previously known as almoners); The Association of Psychiatric Social Workers; The Association of Child Care Officers; The Association of Social Workers (non-specialised social work.);The Association of Moral Welfare Workers (working mainly with unmarried mothers and their children); The Society of Mental Welfare Officers; The Association of Family Caseworkers (mainly working with families). The members of the National Association of Probation Officers decided not to join the new organisation.

1970. Establishment of the South Wales Group of the Standing Conference of Organisations of Social Workers

The first meeting was held on the 23rd March 1970. Minutes of this meeting and a subsequent meeting on 24th April are held in the Warwick University Archive. These record the transition between the organisations representing people in different social work fields to the establishment of BASW.

1970. Local Authority and Social Services Act

The Act received royal assent 29th May 1970. The legislation drew on the work of the Seebohm Committee on local authority and allied personal services which was set up in 1965 to review the organisation and responsibilities of the social services functions of local authorities. The Committee reported in 1968 and made a number of significant recommendations. The Committee put forward 9 reasons for change from the numerous agencies that operated then. These were:

  • To meet needs on the basis of the overall requirements of the individual or family rather than on a limited set of symptoms
  • Provide a clear and comprehensive pattern of responsibility and accountability
  • Attract more resources
  • Use these resources more effectively
  • Generate adequate recruitment and training of the staff skills which are or may become necessary
  • Meet needs which are at present being neglected
  • Adapt to changing conditions
  • Provide an organisation for collecting and disseminating information relevant to the development of the social services
  • Be more accessible and comprehensible to those who need to use them.

A summary of the report produced by the Committee can be found in the National Archive.

 

Social services were not a priority for the government of the day but lobbying by the Seebohm Implementation Action Group succeeded in building cross-party support for change. The new departments would provide services for children, young persons, the aged and the mentally disordered. It also established the role of Director of Social Services. The establishment of these new departments contributed to a general rise in levels of pay for social workers.

 

The early years of the Departments were marked by increased demand from people who were now eligible for services, a shortage of qualified staff and challenges faced by individual social workers to work ‘generically’ across all types of need. The increased number of managerial posts resulted in people who did have a qualification (even if very recently acquired) being promoted, leaving less experienced and unqualified people working at the front line. In order to manage both the workload and ensure that social workers had appropriate knowledge and skills, generic social work was gradually replaced by specialisms.

1970. Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act

This legislation came from a private member’s bill introduced by Alf Morris MP. His personal experience motivated his commitment to improving life for people who were disabled. He was later to become the first minister for the disabled in the world.

 

The Act placed a range of duties on local authorities giving rights to people to have practical assistance in their homes, adaptations in the home, access to public buildings. and help with travel, including the ‘blue badge’ scheme.

 

The Act also directed that people who were disabled or chronically sick should be co-opted onto Council committees.

 

One section addresses the separation of younger from older patients in hospital settings. Health Boards were required to provide an annual return on the numbers of younger people who were being cared for in wards that were primarily for older people.

 

The legislation was ground-breaking (although unfunded). The 1995 Disability Discrimination Act and the 2008 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have strengthened the rights of people who are disabled.

 

The changes in societal attitudes to disability has had an impact on services. Mainstream holiday accommodation that is suitable for people who are disabled is now widely available. People can now go on holiday with family or friends in locations of their choice. In South Wales, two ‘holiday homes’ used to provide breaks for disabled people. Dan y Graig in Porthcawl closed in 2006 and the Jane Hodge Home outside Cowbridge closed in 2009 because of ‘lack of demand.’

.1970. Education (Handicapped Children) Act

This legislation discontinued the classification of handicapped children as unsuitable for education or school. Responsibility for the education of children with a ‘mental handicap’ moved from health authorities to local authority education departments. Although the change took effect in April 1971, children continued to attend ‘junior training centres’ rather that ‘schools’ for some years.

Children who had a physical disability were also frequently denied the opportunity to have a mainstream education. Children who used wheelchairs were directed to special schools where the curriculum was restricted.

1971. First Conference of the BASW Welsh Region held at the Hotel Metropole in Llandrindod Wells.

More than forty people attended the conference held on Saturday 2nd of October. The meeting was chaired by Richard Wolfe. Reports were received from the branches in the South East, South West and the North. There were discussions on procedural matters but the main substance of debate was about changes to the welfare benefits system. One motion presented to the Conference was ‘That this conference confirms the standpoint of the Regional Committee that the Government’s policy on welfare benefits, based on a selective principle, is inappropriate to the needs of the community; and it further deplores the misleading publicity which leads to over-optimistic interpretation by the public.’ The vote was carried by a majority.

 

The Certificate of Qualification in Social Work, introduced in 1971, was designed to provide training that would be relevant in all fields of social work, including in residential settings. This replaced training provided for specialised social workers. This included There was considerable debate about whether the 1971. CCETSW established. Replaced separate training organisations. CQSW and CSS qualifications introduced.

 

CQSW was meeting the training needs of staff in all settings which led to the introduction of the more ‘practically based’ Certificate in Social Services in 1977.

1971. Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped

This white paper set out the government’s policy on changing the way that people who were mentally handicapped should be cared for.

 

The inquiry into conditions at Ely Hospital in the previous decade had revealed a hospital that was cut off from the mainstream where staff had no training and patient mistreatment was endemic. The revelations prompted reviews of care provided in other similar institutions which found that Ely Hospital was not an isolated example of poor care.

 

The white paper acknowledged that there was a shortage of alternative accommodation as well as social workers and training centres. There was also acknowledgement that hospitals had been built at a time when there was a stigma attached to being ‘mentally handicapped’ so locations were often isolated, allowing little interaction with communities outside the hospital.

 

In response to these challenges the Government pledged £40 million to build new facilities. Local authorities were given the responsibility of finding suitable homes for people who had no need of hospital care. The use of ‘homes’ was deliberate in order to emphasise permanence and to direct the development of group living rather than hostels. The importance of long-lasting personal relationships for people with learning disabilities was recognised and there was encouragement for social workers to work with families and individuals to foster close links with the individual.

 1972. Local Government Act.

Before this legislation was implemented in 1974, local government was delivered through county councils, county borough councils, urban district councils and rural district councils. The reforms brought in a two-tier system with 8 county councils and 37 district councils. The counties of Gwent, South Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan, West Glamorgan, Dyfed, Gwynedd, Powys and Clwyd now had responsibility for Social Services Departments.

1974. Hospital Social Workers in England and Wales become employees of Local Authority Social Services Departments

Hospital social workers were employees of the Health Service until April 1974 following the implementation of the NHS Reorganisation Act 1973. The move to becoming Local Authority employees was preceded by much debate about the benefits of such a move. BASW held a national conference in March 1972 on The Future of Health Service Social Workers. BASW set up a working party to look at the reorganisation of the Health Service. One of the concerns was that social work services were not available in many hospitals. ‘Of 300 Hospital Management Committees, 74 have no qualified social workers, 93 have no full time medical or psychiatric social workers. Hospitals in the North of England are less well staffed than those in Greater London and the South.’

The position in Wales at that time is not known. However, BASW membership lists from the 1970s include social workers working in Singleton Hospital in Swansea, Whitchurch Psychiatric Hospital in Cardiff, the Royal Gwent in Newport, Llandough Hospital in Cardiff, the North Wales Psychiatric Hospital, Nevill Hall in Abergavenny, Llandudno General, the North Wales Sanitorium in Llangwyfan in Denbigh and the CA Hospital in Bangor.

In June 1974 the Otton Report was published which provided recommendations about social work in hospitals and other heath settings. The outcome of this report was that local authorities had a statutory duty’ to provide social work support to all branches of the NHS, wherever need presented itself.’  Social workers were transferred to local authorities but hospitals would continue to provide clerical support, accommodation and equipment.’

1974 Report of the Working Party on Security in NHS Psychiatric Hospitals

The Butler Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders examined the care provided by the four hospitals providing specialist treatment for high risk mentally ill offenders. Broadmoor in Berkshire, Rampton in Nottinghamshire and Moss Side in Merseyside admitted patients from across England and Wales. The Committee was horrified by the conditions they found in Broadmoor. The hospital was opened in 1863 in response to pressure from the Lunacy Commissioners to make special provision for dangerous lunatics.

The Committee recommended the establishment of secure units in every NHS region as a matter of urgency. Progress in establishing them was slow but there are now medium secure units available in Wales. People who are deemed to be high risk are still detained in Broadmoor, Rampton or Ashworth which was formerly Moss Side.

1975. Better Services for the Mentally Ill

BASW was inaugurated on 24th April 1970. The organisations that came together to form the new body were: The Institute of Medical Social Workers (previously known as almoners); The Association of Psychiatric Social Workers; The Association of Child Care Officers; The Association of Social Workers (non-specialised social work.); The Association of Moral Welfare Workers (working mainly with unmarried mothers and their children); The Society of Mental Welfare Officers; The Association of Family Caseworkers (mainly working with families). The members of the National Association of Probation Officers decided not to join the new organisation.

1975 Children Act

BASW was inaugurated on 24th April 1970. The organisations that came together to form the new body were: The Institute of Medical Social Workers (previously known as almoners); The Association of Psychiatric Social Workers; The Association of Child Care Officers; The Association of Social Workers (non-specialised social work.); The Association of Moral Welfare Workers (working mainly with unmarried mothers and their children); The Society of Mental Welfare Officers; The Association of Family Caseworkers (mainly working with families). The members of the National Association of Probation Officers decided not to join the new organisation.

1975. Care Costs Campaign

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The 1980s

1981. Education Act

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1982 Barclay Committee Report

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1983. Mental Health Act

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1983. All Wales Mental Handicap Strategy

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1984. Miners’ strike

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1986. Audit Commission report. Making a reality of community care

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1988 Griffiths Report on Community Care

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1989 Caring for People. Community Care in the Next Decade and Beyond.  White paper

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1989 Children Act

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The 1990s

1990. NHS and Community Care Act

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1991 Report of the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry

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1992. Report into Practices in Ty Mawr Community Home

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1993. Welsh Language Act.

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1994. DipSW replaced CQSW

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1994. Local Government (Wales) Act

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1994. Ombudsman’s report on the ‘Leeds Case’.

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1994. Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis.

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1997. Report of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care for the Elderly.

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1999. Coughlan Judgement.

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1999. Welsh Assembly established.

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The 2000s

2000. BASW Professional officer appointed in Wales

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2000 Care Standards Act

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2000. In Safe Hands. Implementing Adult Protection Procedures in Wales

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2000. Lost in Care. Report of the Waterhouse Inquiry

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2000. Establishment of the post of Children’s Commissioner for Wales

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2001. Care Council for Wales established

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2002. CSIW established

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2002 Unified Assessment: Creating a unified and fair system for assessing and managing care

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2003. Laming Report on the death of Victoria Climbie published

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2004. Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act

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2005. A Fair Future for Children. The Welsh Government’s first Child Poverty Strategy

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2005. Mandatory registration of social workers

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2005. Social Worker becomes a protected title

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2005. DipSW replaced by degree- level entry in social work

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2005. Mental Capacity Act

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2006. The Government of Wales Act

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2008. The first Commissioner for Older People in Wales appointed

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2009. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

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The 2010s

2010. BASW Cymru Social Work Awards inaugurated

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2010. Equality Act

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2010. Mental Health (Wales) Measure

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2010. Children and Families (Wales) Measure

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2011 Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure

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2011. Sustainable Social Services for Wales; A Framework for Action

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2011. Social Workers Union established

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2011. Collapse of the Southern Cross Care Home company

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2012. More Than Just Words launched

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2014. Social Services and Well Being Act

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2014. Cheshire West Judgement

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2015. In Search of Accountability. A review of the neglect of older people living in care homes investigated as Operation Jasmine

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2015 The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act

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2015. Care and Support (Direct Payments) (Wales)

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2016. Regulation and Inspection of Social Care Act

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2018. Social Care Wales replaces Care Council for Wales and the Social Services Improvement Agency

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2018. Social Care Research and Development Strategy

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2019. Mental Capacity Amendment Act. Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards replaced by Liberty Protection Safeguards

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The 2020s

2020. Coronavirus Act

This legislation was implemented on 6th March in response to a declaration of threat to health. Extensive powers were conferred on Welsh ministers to impose restrictions to protect the population.

 

The impact of COVID-19 has had a profound and prolonged impact on society. It has exposed both weaknesses and strengths in social care and wider society and, as such, has provided a test for the developments described in this time line.

 

Older People

 

Residents of care homes have been severely affected by COVID. It is estimated that around a third of all COVID deaths were amongst care home residents. Many other residents and staff became ill with the virus. In efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, visits by family and friends were prohibited and residents were unable to leave their homes.

 

The death rates were greater in the first wave of the pandemic. A key cause identified was that hospitals discharged people to care homes without consideration about what the impact might be. A lack of partnership working between hospital and community services has been a long-standing issue but this had widespread severe consequences.

 

The whole population has been affected by curbs on rights. However, those living in care homes have had additional restrictions. Decisions to allow visits by relatives have been made by care home managers. Residents in some care homes have been prevented from seeing loved ones even when restrictions have been lifted. Residents who lack capacity and require an assessment or review under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards have not been able to be seen ‘in person’ and routine reviews have been reduced. The reasons are understandable but nevertheless leave people potentially at the mercy of poor care. In some extreme cases, general practitioners have issued blanket ‘Do not Attempt Resuscitate’ forms for care home staff to complete the personal details so that all or most residents would not receive treatment. Perhaps it is unsurprising that Amnesty International has stated that care home residents’ human rights have been violated.

 

The majority of care homes are run as private businesses. Fee levels set by local authorities often do not reflect the true cost of care. In April 2020 Lang and Buisson calculated that fee levels for residential care should be between £696 and £849 a week and for nursing care between £969 and £1075 per week. The average fees in Wales in 2019/20 were £681 for residential care and £858 for nursing care. Welsh local authorities were paying on average £630 for residential care and £665 for nursing care. Responding to the pandemic has meant extra costs, for PPE for example. At the same time many homes are running with high levels of vacancies because of excessive deaths and an increased reluctance to move into care homes where individuals may be exposed to increased risk of illness or may be prevented from seeing their families again. The financial impact on an already fragile market may result in closures of many homes. Wales is particularly exposed as there are a high proportion of homes owned by individuals.

 

Children.

 

The limited provision of schooling for the majority of children in Wales has resulted in many adverse effects. However, for those children who are most vulnerable, the harms may be more serious. During ‘lockdown’ there have been increases in poverty, domestic violence, mental ill-health and substance abuse. At the same time, children who are confined to their homes have less access to people who might be able to protect them. The NSPCC and some local authorities have reported increases in referrals but the full picture may not be known for some time.

 

Even before the Pandemic, children who were experiencing mental health problems had to wait for extended periods of time to access help. The Children’s Commissioner’s report ‘No Wrong Door’ gives examples of disputes between agencies about who should meet the needs of children with complex conditions. This does not bode well for children and young people who have developed more serious mental health problems during lockdown.

 

Looked after children have had reduced visits from social workers. However, some children have reported that they found digital contact more supportive of their participation, even if these changes may not have been discussed with them before being implemented. Young people leaving care during this period have found adjusting more challenging. Dealing with anxiety, loneliness and lack of resources was not uncommon but young people did say that social workers made efforts to support them.

 

Professional activity.

 

The nature of the crisis has promoted more effective joint working in some areas. The value of social care has been made more visible and calls for investment to be made to improve services have been better heard. The poor rates of pay and employment conditions have been discussed widely. Research in England has shown the link between low rates of pay and services being rated ‘inadequate or requiring improvement’. The Welsh Government is committed to parity between health and social care but change will depend on affordability.

 

Social workers have, like all workers, been encouraged to work from home. As well as the impact on people using services, this has had implications for the workers themselves. BASW commissioned a survey that was undertaken at the end of 2020.  The results covered a range of topics from support of employers to the nature of their work. Some of the key findings were:

 

  • 51.2% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were able to carry out their role with the confidence and support they needed; 30.7% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
  • 77.7% agreed or strongly agreed that their experience of working under lockdown restrictions had increased their concerns about the capacity to safeguard/protect adults and children.
  • 67.6% of respondents who worked in children’s services agreed or strongly agreed that they had seen an increase in the number of referrals and/or their caseload since the return to schools and colleges for autumn 2020. 17.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
  • 58.8% agreed or strongly agreed that working during the Covid-19 crisis had negatively impacted upon their own mental health.
  • 13.68.3% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that working from home during the Covid-19 crisis had made it more difficult for them to switch off from work.
  • 63.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had encountered more ethical and moral dilemmas since the introduction of lockdown restrictions.
  • 38.7% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had encountered discrimination, equalities or rights’ breaches affecting service users which related to the Covid-19 crisis; 32.7% disagreed.
  • 78.7% agreed or strongly agreed that they had encountered more difficulties in accessing essential support services for the people with whom they worked.
  • 69.7% agreed that they had encountered more difficulties in communicating with service users because of the digital exclusion experienced by the latter.
  • 51.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had encountered more difficulties in monitoring safeguarding access/carrying out safe and effective adult and child protection visits because of limited face-to-face access.

 

Poverty and disadvantage.

 

COVID has made the inequalities clear because of the disproportionate death rates in areas of deprivation. Social workers already knew that poverty and disadvantage shape individual’s life chances. This can be a higher risk of a child being on the Child Protection register to adults experiencing life-limiting ill health. Many people will have experienced the benefit system for the first time and will have been surprised to find that it does not lead to easily-acquired large sums of money.

 

The Welsh Government has produced a document to assist health and social care services to learn from the pandemic and move to a post-Covid 19 world. The priorities specifically set out for social care, based on the white paper ‘Rebalancing Care and Support, are:

 

  • Provide the route map to a modern and agile social care sector.
  • Identify the ‘hidden harms’ resulting from COVID-19 and ensure appropriate services are in place to mitigate the longer-term impact of COVID on communities. 
  • Continue to support families to stay together by facilitating opportunities for families to identify and own solutions to challenges brought about or amplified by COVID.
  • Identify and deal with the impact of Long COVID and understand how this impacts on people receiving care and support, unpaid carers and the social care workforce.
  • Address the adverse impact of COVID-19 on unpaid carers, considering issues around respite and support for carers in particular, in the context of our developing national strategy for carers.
  • Recognise that our support to the sector through the Local Authority Hardship Fund has been critical to the sustainability of many vital social care organisations. We must consider how, in the context of the final budget, we will continue to support the sustainability of care providers in the context of the resources that are available. We must ensure that commissioners of care and support services, in local authorities and health boards, have a key role in using this financial support, in a way that enables them to match the provision of services to changing population need.
  • Recognise social care workers through pay and conditions in order to move towards paying the Real Living Wage within the sector, to ensure that there is a focus on supporting wellbeing and mental health.
  • Build on and improve the collaborative working that has been evident across the health and social care sector throughout the pandemic.