Headlines: April 4th, 2007



Directors of adult social services are taking on more and wider duties, many linked to prevention, according to survey results published today. The study carried out by the newly-created Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows how widely their influence and responsibilities are developing.

The survey was carried out among directors during January and the results show that overwhelmingly their core task is providing a range of services to disabled people, those with mental health problems and vulnerable older people. In more than half of cases, those services include additional responsibilities for arranging, providing, commissioning or otherwise supervising housing services. Other tasks among the developing roles being set for Directors include work in crime prevention, community regeneration and building safer communities. Overall 46 per cent of respondents to the survey said they had responsibilities in these new areas.

The study also found evidence that many directors are now taking responsibility for services that play a part in the health and wellbeing agenda. For a quarter of respondents these responsibilities included libraries, museums and adult learning services. There is evidence, too, that new posts are being formally linked to tasks concerning health improvement, wellbeing and public health issues – 21.5 per cent – leisure (18.5 per cent) and supporting people (17 per cent) as well as broader cultural services. The survey also found there were are roughly as many men as women serving in the new roles, and that the average age of new directors was in the late 40s.

ADASS President Anne Williams said this showed that while adult social services departments have key, core responsibilities to adults, new directors were taking on a far wider and more comprehensive set of duties aimed at influencing prevention services and contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of adults in their local communities. She stressed that as well as working with partners, service directors were still providing a number of services which impacted on children’s lives, so it was vital that they had the closest possible working relationships with new children’s services departments. “We have to remember that children with special needs become adults with special needs, and that domestic violence can harm people in families whatever their age,” she said.

The new body has grown from the former Association of Directors of Social Services following the division of local authority services for adults and children.