A further stage in bringing together health and social care has been marked with the announcement by the Department of Health that it intends to introduce legislation to require local councils to appoint a new lead member for adult services at the next opportunity. The new role will provide strengthened leadership and promote closer integration of health and social care.The new Directors of Adult Social Services will be on equal footing with Directors of Social Services and will be directly accountable to the Chief Executive. They will work in partnership with their counterparts in children’s services and ensure that the social care needs of everyone in the community are considered and are well managed. They will also have responsibility for coordinating the promotion of wellbeing, prevention of social exclusion and protection of vulnerable adults across adult services.
The Directors will have key strategic and leadership roles and work with a range of partners, including primary care trusts and the independent and voluntary sectors. They will have to ensure that services are well plannedand integrated and meet the needs of a diverse community and other agencies, including the NHS.
The introduction of the new role is part of a reform programme to create a framework for social care which meets the requirements of the 21st century. Changes in population and communities mean that people are living longer but are less likely to be part of a close-knit family providing support. Communities are more diverse and existing services do not always recognise that. Society has higher expectations and people want greater control over their own lives, including the management of risk. In future, there will be competing demands on the workforce available. It is therefore not realistic to plan to continue to deliver care in the way that it has been delivered in the past.