There are many challenges facing our health and social care system. An aging population, increased expectations and rising costs are all putting extra strain on a system that has already suffered from years of cruel Tory austerity-driven cuts. But now our council is taking steps to address these issues head-on.

One of our key strategies is early intervention. We aim to provide support as soon as possible, which delays or even prevents the need for more complex care later. Our approach is to try to help people maintain their independence for as long as possible.

We are working closely with our health service partners and together are developing home-based care approaches that can prevent the need for hospital admissions.

Under another initiative we have been placing social care staff within hospital wards, which has already proved effective in reducing the duration of some hospital stays, allowing for a smoother move for patients getting back to their homes.

Our integrated approach was recently demonstrated to the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, on her visit to Monnow Vale Health and Social Care Centre in Monmouth. And she also came with us to the Bridges Centre to see how we work with and support community organisations there.

Personal independence is also the focus of our work with adults with a learning disability. We want to help individuals lead fulfilling lives. One of the ways we do so is by helping people take small but important steps, like gaining the confidence to use public transport or learning how to manage their money. Others require more long-term and closer support though our ‘My Day, My Life’ service, which we are developing and strengthening in conjunction with users.

I do not underestimate the serious and complex challenges ahead, but I am proud of the way our team are supporting the well-being and empowerment of our more vulnerable residents.