The new boss of the body that represents care homes and homecare providers in North East Wales has pledged to fight for a fair funding.
According to Mary Wimbury, the new chief executive of Care Forum Wales, which champions the interests of over 450 members, there’s never been a better time for care providers to speak with one voice to ensure the people of Wales can get the care they need.
She said: “Care Forum Wales is strongly making the case that social care is chronically underfunded and desperately needs extra money putting into it.
“The sector is struggling to provide the care that is needed with care homes closing and local authorities are trying to get people to deliver home care packages which they are just unable to do.
“People are now living longer demand for social care is increasing all the time and the needs of those going into care are becoming greater.
“We all want to see care sector staff being properly rewarded but the increases we’ve seen in the minimum wage over the past few years haven’t been reflected in the fees paid by local authorities and health boards to the providers of care homes and domiciliary care.”
Care Forum Wales works closely with the Welsh Government, commissioners and regulators to shape policies that focus on making sure people receive the highest quality care.
It also works to raise the profile of the social care workforce and every year organises the prestigious Wales Care Awards, a celebration of the hard work and dedication of the social care workforce.
The influential not-for-profit organisation also runs training events, professional groups and conferences to promote best practice and share knowledge amongst its members.
Taking the helm as its first ever chief executive is 48-year-old Mary Wimbury who steps into the top job after six years as the forum’s senior policy advisor.
Ms Wimbury, who lives with her husband and three children in Rhos-on-Sea in Conwy County, said: “I’m looking forward to the new challenge, especially as it comes at a key time when our members in the social care sector are under a lot of pressure due to funding constraints and new regulations coming in from the Welsh Government.
“We already have Social Services and Wellbeing Act, which came into force last year and refocuses the way we deliver care in Wales.
“We also have Regulation and Inspection Act with regulations due to take effect from next April requiring every care home and domiciliary care agency in Wales to re-register with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate. Following on from that we will see all care workers required to be individually registered over the next four years.
“These are both significant challenges facing our members and Care Forum Wales is supporting them through it as much as possible.
“This means there’s never been a better time for care providers to be represented by an organisation such as ours which provides a high level of support and enables them to speak with one voice.”
Ms Wimbury grew up in Kent although her family originally hails from Manchester where both her parents were councillors, and her father, Harry Wimbury, chaired the Welfare Services committee, dealing with care provision.
She went to schools in Snodland near Maidstone, Rainham near Gillingham and Chatham and on to Oxford University where she obtained a degree in mathematics.
An early responsibility was as President of the Student Union in Oxford and as a member of the national executive of the National Union of Students.
After university she began her career as a parliamentary liaison officer with the Association of Metropolitan Authorities – now part of the Local Government Association – dealing with legislation involving local government.
Later she joined the BBC, first working in parliamentary liaison then becoming head of public relations in its news department and later a senior communications advisor working on the corporation’s high profile annual report.
She then became head of communications for the Local Government Information Unit and gained a master’s degree in public policy at University College London.
Before joining Care Forum Wales in 2011, she spent five years as director of the UK Mathematics Trust, a charity which runs maths enrichment projects for secondary school pupils across Britain.
Looking at other challenges she faces in her new role with the forum, Ms Wimbury added: “Apart from implementing two pieces of Welsh Government legislation, I’d say that the biggest issue for social care providers is funding, which is a particularly controversial topic at the moment across the UK.
“If we can secure adequate funding for the sector and get that right everything else should follow.
“In the forum we also need to work on newer methods of communications with our members, continue to build our membership and also look at other organisations we can work with as partners.
“Social care providers need to be members of an organisation in order to influence decisions being taken that affect them at a local, regional and national level and I hope that organisation can be Care Forum Wales.”
Care Forum Wales chairman Mario Kreft MBE said: “We were delighted to appoint somebody of Mary undoubted calibre as the new chief executive at such a crucial time in the social care sector.
“Mary has shown during her time as senior policy officer and more recently as the interim chief executive that she has a firm grasp of all the issues and a real determination to campaign for fairness for the providers to ensure we provide the best possible care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities across Wales.”