The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, or 'the Act',
provides the legal framework for improving the well-being of adults
and children who need care and support, and carers who need
support, and for transforming social services in Wales.
All the current information and resources about the Act can be
found at the Hub.
The Act will transform the way social services are delivered,
promoting people's independence to give them stronger voice and
control. It aims to address issues of demographic change and raise
the expectations of those who access care and support. The Act will
give people greater freedom to decide what support they need while
promoting consistent, high-quality services across the country.
The Act in 11 parts
There is an Introduction, part 2 covers General Functions, part
3 is about assessing the needs of individuals, part 4 about Meeting
Needs, part 5 covers Charging and Financial Assessment, part 6
Looked After and Accommodated Children, part 7 Safeguarding, part 8
Social Services Functions, part 9 Co-operation and Partnership,
part 10 Complaints, Representations and Advocacy Services and part
11 is labelled Miscellaneous and General and addresses the needs of
individuals in prison, youth detention accommodation or bail and
explains the "ordinary residence" rule.
The role of the third sector
The role of the third sector is referenced several times under
part 2, section 16 of the Act which states that local authorities
are required to promote care and support services, including
services for carers, and preventative services which are provided
by social enterprises, co-operatives, user-led organisations and
third sector organisations.
Section 16(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act
2014 imposes a duty on local authorities to promote social
enterprises, co-operative organisations, co-operative arrangements
and third sector organisations to provide care and support and
preventative services in their area. Section 16(2) defines "social
enterprise" and "third sector organisation". The definition of
"social enterprise" includes a requirement that its activities are
wholly or mainly activities which a person might reasonably
consider to be activities carried out for the benefit of society.
"Third sector organisation" is defined as an organisation which a
person might reasonably consider to exist wholly or mainly to
provide benefits for society.
The Act demands a change in culture when working with the
individual to help them achieve their well-being outcomes. Firstly
by asking "what matters to you?" and secondly by maximising their
own support networks and accessing community and voluntary
resources, which are vital to achieving the aims of the Act. A care
and support plan will follow only if particular well-being outcomes
can't be achieved. The aim is to shift the balance away from long
term care and support, wherever possible. The voluntary sector is
key to supporting this culture change.
In providing any such services, all providers must deliver
within the fundamental principles of the Act which are:
- Voice and control - putting the
individual adult or child, and their needs, at the centre of their
care and support, and giving them a voice in, and control over
reaching the outcomes that help them achieve well-being. Many third
sector organisations already operate in this manner or provide
advocacy in a variety of forms.
- Prevention and early intervention -
increasing preventative services within the community to prevent
needs growing. This may include services that the third sector
already provides or may provide in the future.
- Co-production - encouraging individuals
to become more involved in the design and delivery of services that
they require for themselves. This is the chosen method of working
for many third sector organisations already, and more providers can
learn from their expertise.
- Multi agency - strong partnership
working between all agencies and organisations.
- People - children, adults and carers, their
families and their communities are rich assets and are at the
centre of this framework for working. Communicating, listening and
talking with people will be key to delivering well-being and
unlocking the potential for creativity which will make better and
more effective use of all of the available resources. The third
sector currently sees a whole variety of organisations working in
all manner of partnerships.
- Well-being - supporting people to achieve
their own well-being and measuring the success of care and support.
Whilst there exists the
National Outcomes Framework in Wales, well-being might
also be summed up as '
What matters to you, matters to us'.
Well-being also includes safeguarding: the prevention of and
protection from abuse, harm and neglect. Safeguarding is an
over-arching theme of the Act. The details can be found under Part
7 but a brief introduction follows:
Part 7 Safeguarding
The Act reinforces existing safeguarding arrangements for
children through the introduction of a new duty to report to the
local authority any "child at risk", this duty being placed upon
"relevant partners" of the local authority. A child may be termed a
"child at risk" when they have care and support needs (whether
these are being met or not) AND they appear to be at risk of harm,
abuse or neglect. A relevant partner is a partner statutory agency
to the local authority, another local authority or a health board,
but the duty might also be passed onto commissioned or funded
'Adult at risk' is defined. The local authority is required to
investigate where they suspect that an adult with care and support
needs is at risk of abuse or neglect. Adult protection and support
orders are introduced to authorise entry to premises (if necessary
by police action) for the purpose of enabling an authorised officer
to assess whether an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect and, if
so, what, if any, action should be taken. Relevant partners are
placed under a duty to report to the appropriate local authority
where they suspect that people (adult or child) may be at risk of
abuse or neglect
Regulation 6 requires the six regional Safeguarding Boards to
give children or adults who are, or may be, affected by the
exercise of the Board's functions, an opportunity to participate in
the Board's work. There may be a role here for local voluntary or
community organisations to support this participation.
Functions of the safeguarding boards include: to review the
training needs of and promote the provision of suitable training
for persons working to achieve the Board's objectives; to arrange
and facilitate an annual programme of multi-agency professional
forums. Both these opportunities should extend to include the third
An individual must feel that they are an equal partner in their
relationship with professionals. It is open to any individual to
invite someone of their choice to support them to participate fully
and express their views wishes and feelings. This support can be
provided by someone's friends, family or wider support network.
Some individuals will have a right to a formal, professional
Information, Advice and Assistance
The information, advice and assistance service must include, as
a minimum, the publication of information and advice on
- · how the care and support system operates in the local
- · the types of care and support available
- · how to access the care and support that is available
- · how to raise concerns about the well-being of a person who
appears to have needs for care and support.
This service must be accessible to all.
Dewis is a community
services search website where anyone can find out about the
services in their local area. It is already populated with
information from North Wales and soon will cover all Wales. A
similar website for information on community services is Infoengine, which will
soon share a link with Dewis to ensure users of both get the
correct information. Contact your local CVC for more on
Third sector organisations are valuable sources of data which
can help local authorities to shape their local delivery. Their
staff and volunteers are often in a position to promote to their
contacts the value of local registers. Local authorities must
compile registers of people, including children, with disabilities
and sensory impairments and their preferred methods of
communication, to help ensure that there is provision to meet their
well-being outcomes and communication requirements.
Each local authority will also have to produce a population
assessment. Voluntary sector organisations can make an important
contribution which helps to identify the needs of local
populations. The third sector often holds huge amount of
intelligence about unmet need which is rarely used as widely as it