The role of Social Services is to ensure that those individuals experiencing a crisis, as well as the more vulnerable and marginalised members of our community, receive the help and support they require in order to assume greater control over their lives. We acknowledge the many changes that this department has experienced in recent years. However, problems still affect this agency.
Our core values of Inclusivity, Diversity and Transparency will be at the fore when determining how we tackle the many issues the Social Services have to contend with on a daily basis.
Together Gibraltar recognises the dedication and professionalism of all who work within Social Services, including Social Workers, Psychologists, Therapists, Nurses and Care Workers, as well as associated grades. There are areas of concern that, despite past promises, continue to be endemic within the Care Agency including high staff turnover rates, low staff morale and lack of continuity of care.
These issues invariably impact upon the quality and consistency of the care provided to all these vulnerable groups and must be addressed urgently.
Review and Restructure the Care Agency
We will conduct a review and restructure of the Care Agency by engaging with existing staff and service user groups that will take into account staff ratios, staff retention, training needs, identification of additional resources, necessary changes in legislation and systems to evaluate the quality of care provided.
Minimum Standards for Public & Private Sector
Recent years have seen the proliferation of independent care providers who provide statutory services with supply care staff for areas ranging from Elderly Care, Children’s Homes, Drug Rehabilitation and Disability Services, often with suboptimal results. To tackle this, we will:
Institute an independent regulator similar to the Care Quality Commission in the UK. This will mean that both public and private sector facilities and services should be equally scrutinised and rated, providing the public with safeguards and choices.
Implement a unified local register for all who work with children and vulnerable persons. This register covers qualifications obtained, their expiry dates, and continued professional development.
In last resort scenarios where vulnerable children have to be removed from their families, it is our duty to provide them with the best possible opportunities to fulfil their potential. We must protect them from becoming marginalised or ending up within the criminal justice system, as we sadly see only too often. We will:
Give greater emphasis to the options of fostering and adoption, which tend to be the best options to provide these children with the stability and continuity they so much need.
Invest in fulfilling our responsibility to support and nurture those who continue in residential care towards an independent and productive life well into adulthood, where necessary.
We believe that more can be done to support and work with some families to prevent them from becoming dysfunctional and breaking down, as well as work to preventively with vulnerable individuals. We will:
Invest in a well-resourced Family Centre that does not stigmatise individuals. The centre will build upon the current existing service and will include self-referrals, and referrals from other statutory bodies, including the courts.
Pay particular attention to work with adolescents displaying challenging behaviours, for whom services are critically lacking at present.
We believe that current measures do not go far enough to support families experiencing issues as a result of divorce proceedings.
We will allocate more Social Workers to work with families having to deal with the challenges of divorce and with the Gibraltar Court Service to ensure that matters are resolved in a much less adversarial manner and with the minimum of delay.
Successive governments have made countless promises to the disabled community, some of which remain unfulfilled.
We will address all outstanding issues to ensure that any person with any type of disability is able to fulfil their true potential. We will engage positively and listen to the views of all service users, their families and dedicated professionals in developing a service that will make us proud.