Major report into Cardiff and Vale care requirements released

The changing needs of those living in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, including some early insights into the impact of the pandemic, are outlined in a major new report.

The Population Needs Assessment 2022 for the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan region outlines the care and support needs of the region’s population over the next five years, and the range and level of services required to meet that need.

Compiled over the past 10 months by teams across Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils, together with the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board, it includes the results of a series of public consultations including online surveys, 23 focus groups and interviews with health and social care professionals.

Cllr Susan Elsmore, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, hailed the report as a vital tool in the city’s bid to deliver the best help where it was needed most. “There are many aspects of the report which will need all our expertise and resources to address,” she said. “Many of the issues highlighted have a direct link to deprivation, but in this area the Council has made positive steps towards supporting people out of poverty.

“Between 2017 and 2019, the number of adults in material poverty (the extent to which people can afford items such as heating and food) in Cardiff has fallen from 16% to 13%. And while there are factors impacting poverty that are out of our control as a Council, we have done a lot of impactful work promoting the Real Living Wage.

“Through our own commitments and increasing the city-wide number of Living Wage-accredited employers from 33 in 2017 to more than 160 today there are now more than 61,000 people in the city working for a Living Wage employer, with nearly 8,000 of those having a pay rise because of these efforts. That’s also meant an additional £39m going into the Cardiff economy.”

The report tackles a wide range of areas, addressing the needs not just of those directly affected but also their carers, paid and unpaid. It acknowledges the hard work they do but recommends improving access to services and the provision of respite care as the numbers of vulnerable people increase.

Cllr Graham Hinchey, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Families, said: “Carers are crucial to the whole health and care system and the report recognises this. We believe there are more than 57,000 carers within Cardiff and the Vale, a number that we anticipate will rise to more than 60,000 by 2040.

“The report heard from many of them and it’s important we act on their ideas and needs.”

The report highlights the improvements made across all areas of care since the first Population Needs Assessment was published in 2017. And this is despite the effects of Covid-19. However, some areas gave cause for concern, including:

  • Social isolation was identified as an issue in the 2017 report and this problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic
  • A more holistic approach is needed to physical and mental health needs, including improved access to services and a reduction in waiting lists, and
  • Many people are unaware of the support available and need better signposting, while more respite care is called for

It also publishes positive comments that have emerged from the public consultations and focus groups and suggests that many respondents are not seeking traditional care and support but instead want:

  • Education and employment
  • Housing and accommodation
  • Encouragement and support for healthy pursuits
  • Improvements to the physical environment, green spaces etc.

Council leader Huw Thomas said: “These are all areas that we as a council have been focusing on because we know they all can have an impact on health and well-being.

“In education, we have invested £450m in schools through our 21st Century Schools programme and the number in Cardiff with a degree-level qualification has increased by 30.2% between 2012 and 2020 while in the same period those with no qualifications at all have almost halved, from 9.7% to 5.3%.

“In terms of what we can tackle, we have narrowed the attainment gap between pupils from low-income families and those from more affluent backgrounds, and between 2010 and 2017 the gap in achievement between pupils eligible for free school meals and non-eligible pupils shrank by more than 8%.

“Since 2017, our Money Advice Team has helped our residents claim more than £75m in additional weekly benefits, and the percentage of workless households has fallen from 18.2% in 2015 to 12.9% in 2020.

“Cardiff’s unemployment rate has fallen from 9.8% in 2011-12 to 4.9% in 2020-21, thanks in part to 3,600 people finding work since 2018 with help from our Into Work service and the Council itself creating and safeguarding 5,000 new jobs since 2019-20.

“In Cardiff we have reduced the number of rough sleepers from 130 in 2019 to just 20 today, we have embarked on a huge programme to deliver 4,000 new council homes across the city and our ‘Move More Cardiff’ initiative is targeting resources towards increasing sport and healthy activity participation among under-represented groups, particularly in the less affluent southern arc of the city.

“This report outlines that there is still much to do but we are committed to constantly improving the lives of our residents, especially those who need our help the most. Delivering better jobs, better and more affordable housing and better education are key factors in lifting people out of poverty and lifting people out of poverty is a key factor in improving their health.”

He added that the council was also focused on creating an even greener and cleaner environment across the city, saying: “We are the most awarded city in Wales in terms of Green Flag awards – the national benchmark for parks and green spaces – and the top performer in Wales for residents being within walking distance of a green space.”

Areas covered by the report, plus selected findings, and recommendations:

Children and young people, and those with complex needs

  •  In 2018, Cardiff became the first city in Wales to develop the UNICEF-backed Child-Friendly City strategy and there has been a host of initiatives across the region since then to ensure children’s rights are recognised
  • During the pandemic, hospital A&E departments saw a reduction in the numbers of children treated – 21,317 in 2020-21, compared with 34,900 the previous year. This was probably a consequence of the lockdowns but conversely there has been an increase in the numbers presenting to hospital with issues such as self-harm and eating disorders.
  • Children with complex needs would benefit from training to use public transport, and
  • Their families want more peer support, including mentoring by another family to share lived experience

Older people

  • More needs to be done to integrate care and support services to enable older people to live independently and well at home for as long as possible
  • The pandemic increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, anxiety, and fear
  • But services have adapted well, and more people have been able to access them; plus, many people volunteered in their communities to support older people, offering help with shopping, collecting prescriptions, and befriending over the phone

Physically disabled

  • The report reveals that two-thirds of the deaths from Covid-19 were disabled people, and recommends
  • Working towards a positive and inclusive culture for disabled people and continuing to promote independent living

Learning disability

  • The report recommends focusing services on what is important for the individual, such as encouraging an active, independent lifestyle and the promotion of friendships
  • Continue to improve uptake of annual health checks and screenings


  • Improve wider awareness of autism and develop a supportive culture

Adult mental health

  • Reduce the number of suicides and attempted suicides and incidents of self-harm and reduce the impact these have on carers


  • Create a personalised care pathway for people living with dementia and their carers building on the 2018 Cardiff and Vale Dementia Strategy.

Adult unpaid carers

  • They have been badly affected by the pandemic. Services have been taken away and the relationship between the carer and cared for is seen to be deteriorating
  • Recommended to consider flexible respite for unpaid carers and reduce waiting times for mental health support

Sensory loss

  • There is a greater need for British Sign Language services
  • The number of rehabilitation officers for the blind (one in Cardiff, one in the Vale) is insufficient to meet the need

Substance abuse

  • 20% of adults in Cardiff are drinking at least 14 units of alcohol a week, compared to the Wales average of 19%
  • Alcohol accounts for most of substance abuse, followed by heroin, cannabis, and cocaine
  • Pandemic saw an ‘unprecedented’ rise in liver deaths. Despite pubs being shut for 31 weeks alcohol purchases remained constant


  • Cardiff Prison was inspected in 2019 and made real improvements on 2016 figures in terms of safety, respect and ‘purposeful activity’
  • Incidents of self-harm reduced during the pandemic
  • Of the 200 people released on average every month, 47% reported having no home to go to
  • Need to strengthen pathways to plan for release from prison into the community

Asylum seekers/refugees

  • Cardiff is already a City of Sanctuary and Wales is aiming to be the world’s first Nation of Sanctuary with a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Landlords should be encouraged to offer more homes to refugees
  • Need identified for better integration, community cohesion and walk-in health clinics


  • Councils should consider a Veterans ID card to give priority status for certain public services
  • Mental health care is a primary need

 The Population Needs Assessment 2022 report goes before the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday when it is expected to be formally approved.

 The full report is available to read here: