This section provides an overview of cross-cutting themes which apply across population groups. This also builds upon the themes identified within the 2017 Population Assessment.

There are a range of population stakeholder groups in West Wales which support our approach to continuous engagement, consultation and planning. These groups help us to reflect the lived experience of people within our Population Assessment.

Whilst each of the thematic reports identifies issues and challenges relevant to that specific user group, there are some common to all, which require a generic response from the RPB and its partners. These cross-cutting themes are set out below, not in any order of priority.

The 2017 Population Assessment identified the challenge that many disadvantaged groups face in accessing services to meet their care and support needs. A range of actions have taken place and will be an ongoing priority for the RPB. These include:

  • The development of policies to ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to access support within their communities
  • Services should take account of language of choice, economic and cultural needs and additional needs such as physical, sensory and learning disabilities, neurodiversity, cognitive impairment and poor mental health
  • The development of a single point of contact in each area, across the health and care system to make it easier to access relevant advice, information and support
  • The need to continue to develop technological solutions such as Assist My Life app, telehealth and virtual day-centres which assist people in accessing services.

Waiting times for assessment, diagnosis and treatment, as well as availability of support have been significantly impacted in Wales as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In West Wales, there is a need to continue:

  • Improving availability of information available in relation to accessing community-based services for diagnosis
  • Providing people with information regarding waiting times
  • Increasing the range of support offered following diagnosis.

There is a need to:

  • Improve the consistency of information, advice and assistance across the region
  • Ensure information, including care plans, are available in a range of formats such as easy read, sign language and braille and in the language of choice
  • Continue to improve communication between organisations and professionals in relation to care planning to avoid people having to repeat their story
  • Increase the use of integrated information systems where all the information about a person is in one place and can be accessed by the right people across the different systems when it is needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic digital solutions were used by health and social care services to keep in touch with people, provide support, advice and information. This highlighted the potential and accelerated the use of digital technologies.

However, not everyone is able to access services in this way in West Wales. This is in part due availability of high-speed broadband or 4G coverage in some areas, access to suitable devices, as well as the confidence or skills to access support in this way. We must address this deficit.

We should also build on the experience during the pandemic to:

  • Ensure a wide spectrum of people can access virtual services when and where appropriate
  • Make better use of social media channels to engage with, inform and support communities
  • Maximise the potential of digital and virtual support and telehealth to help people to manage certain conditions, address social isolation and reach those living in isolated communities
  • Increase the use of assistive technology to enhance our direct care services such as domiciliary care and supported living.

There is more to do to ensure co-production is integral to our work by:

  • Ensuring co-production is a key principle in developing sustainable community-based, user-led services
  • Ensuring commissioners and providers co-produce services with those that use them
  • Ensuring people needing care and support, their families and unpaid carers are involved in the decisions made about their care.

In West Wales there are a range of ‘preventative’ services already available. The pandemic has led to increased isolation and a disruption of normal life. This could have short term effects on mental health and other conditions, as people may have been unable, or too concerned to access the support they would normally have. It is a priority for us to:

  • Regain the momentum of community initiatives across the region that were paused during the pandemic
  • Re-establish engagement activities and events that supported people to meet, share information and support and contribute to the development of services
  • Ensure preventative services are able to ‘step up’ to statutory services when people's needs increase and they require more support
  • Further develop community-based services, that prevent isolation and support people to become more resilient and manage their own conditions
  • Strengthen links with schools to identify groups of children, young people, families and unpaid carers, who may need additional support
  • Improve access to mental health services at an early stage for both children and adults, thus preventing escalation and the need for referral to statutory services.

An ambulance arrives at a hospital with a patient

Supporting and developing our workforce in health and social care remains a priority for us. Areas for attention include:

  • Improving awareness and recognition of hidden conditions including, sensory and cognitive impairment, language and communication needs, neurodiversity and autism, Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence
  • Ensuring staff are aware of the range of services which are available within their community
  • Ensuring all staff have an awareness of safeguarding of adults and children.

The time of transition from childhood to adulthood can be challenging. It can mean changes in arrangements for education, health, care and support and other aspects of a young person’s life. In order to support a smooth transition, we should:

  • Develop a regional transition policy that provides seamless and integrated support of families rather than a start / stop process
  • Improve transition when accessing multiple services, particularly for children and young people who have complex needs.

Putting the individual and their needs, at the centre of their care is a guiding principle of the Social Services and Wellbeing Act. It remains a priority for us to:

  • Ensure assessment and care planning processes focus on what is important to people
  • Ensure people have a choice in how their support needs can be met
  • Improve the range and choice of accommodation so people can continue to live independently in their communities
  • Increase opportunities for volunteering, work experience, employment opportunities and networking for people living with a range of disabilities and conditions.

Under the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 the language has official status in Wales and as such should not be treated less favourably than the English language. A key principle of the original Framework – is that of the ‘active offer’, which places the onus on service commissioners and providers to deliver a service in Welsh without someone having to ask for it, is a continuing priority for those needing care and support in West Wales where, according to the Office for National Statistics in 2011, 37% of the population over 3 years of age are Welsh speakers.