What you need to know now the Act is here.

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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

outcomes

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.

 

Cultural change

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.

 

Over-arching principles

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 service providers.

'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 sector.

 

Advocacy

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 advocacy service.

 

Information, Advice and Assistance

info and advice

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 authority area
  • · 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.

 

Information services

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 Infoengine.

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 might be.