Elderly female hand holding hand of young caregiver

Welsh Government considering role of volunteers in social care

Published : 16/10/22 | Categories: Influencing |

In a recent meeting with the voluntary sector, the Minister for Health and Social Services noted the cost of living crisis will mean ‘exploring’ what more volunteers can do in the health and social care arena.

The group met to discuss the impacts of winter pressures on health and care services, and the effects of the cost of living crisis on the voluntary sector. The Minister thanked the sector for all the work it has done and continues to do, and noted the sector’s need for financial stability. However, she said there is no further money available, adding that energy costs alone have led to a massive overspend in care and that ‘significant cuts’ will be needed. As a result, Welsh Government would like to consider what more volunteers can do within social care – recognising the sector would need further capacity in terms of the infrastructure needed to make this happen.

In response, the sector noted the key role of unpaid carers within the workforce and that they, like volunteers, need infrastructure and support. The group also commented on the work of volunteers in care homes and hospitals, and the personal, social, and emotional support they can provide.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the group discussed the aims of the Regional Integration Fund and issues around how the sector has been engaged with it, as well as the importance of the voluntary sector being appreciated by other sectors as an equal partner. The Minister agreed, and noted that Regional Partnership Boards have been instructed to allocate a minimum of 20% of RIF budgets to the third sector.

Catrin Edwards, Head of External Affairs (Wales) for the Carers Trust, said afterwards: ‘It’s clear that those of us working in the voluntary sector within health and social care have a challenge ahead of us.  We need to be ready to respond to the increasing need and demand for our support services as a result of the cost of living crisis and, to do that, we need to have the means, capacity and infrastructure.

‘The Minister talked of a ‘radical care’ approach. The prospect of ‘radical care’ may not be that radical or new to those of us who work with communities and see the value of relational approaches, but it’s certainly radical for our health and care system. The unpaid workforce in health and care – unpaid carers and volunteers – contribute so much but we need to recognise and value that contribution as well as investing in more support to sustain carers and volunteers. We know the sector has a significant role to play in the future of health and care in Wales and I was glad Carers Trust Wales could have a seat around the table with Minister to help put that into action.’

WCVA will  pursue  conversations with Welsh Government as to how we can best support  the minister in exploring alternative, sustainable  models of delivering health and social care in Wales.

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