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Public to have more say in social care
Date of article: 29-Jul-10
Article By: Swansea City and County Council
Plans to spark a fundamental transformation in social care in Wales have been opened up for public discussion.
Citizen Directed Support is a new way of giving people who use social care support the chance to have a lot more say in how they are looked after in future.
It is also being seen as a way to help communities become stronger and more supporting of their members as well as tackling the spiralling costs of social care which are predicted to burden future generations of taxpayers.
It's already being trialled in some areas of the country but if it's introduced everywhere it would lead to a transformation of social care in Wales.
Swansea is one of a number of Councils that have already signed up to the initiative.
Rick Wilson, of the Wales Alliance for Citizen Directed Support, said half the local authorities in Wales are exploring ways of making support more citizen directed.
CDS was recently discussed at the National Social Services Conference in Llandudno where the future of social care in Wales will be high on the agenda.
Mr Wilson said: "Currently social care is seen by many people as a service typically provided by Councils or voluntary groups given to largely passive recipients. Many of those passive recipients want to have a much bigger say in their own lives and this is what we want to achieve with Citizen Directed Support.
"The exciting thing about Citizen Directed Support is that it revolutionises those relationships. On one hand users decide how the money that's spent on them is managed and on the other the wider local community joins with users, voluntary and independent organisations and local authorities to create a network that everyone can use depending on the support they need or the support they can give.
"Overall the service users get a better quality of life, providers develop services that focus on the individual and communities get opportunities to cooperate together and support each other.
"By creating services which are more effective and involve communities more directly, there are potential savings for taxpayers as well."
Cllr Nick Tregoning, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Social Services, said: "Citizen Directed Support is an idea that aims to transform social care which has few downsides.
"The current social care system is based on the idea of the many supporting the few whether it's by paying taxes or by giving up time as volunteers, for example.
"But that's not going to be sustainable in the future. We know that there's going to be a substantial increase in the ageing population and consequently demand for services will also increase. At the same time, the number of us who will be working and paying taxes will fall dramatically. The ability of the state to pay is under great pressure now. Unless we change the way we deliver social care, that pressure can only get worse.
"Citizen Directed Support offers answers to those who want more say in the quality of their lives as well as providing solutions to how it can be delivered. It's a win-win situation."