The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, or 'the Act', provides a ground-breaking legal framework for improving the well-being of adults and children who need care and support, plus their carers, and for transforming the way care and support is provided now and, more importantly, in the future in Wales.

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The Act will transform the way social services are delivered. It will:

  • promote the integration of health and social care,
  • encourage people to become independent to give them stronger voice and control over their lives,
  • give people greater freedom to decide what support they need,
  • promote consistent, high-quality services across the country.

Third sector organisations can play their part in supporting the delivery of the Act by aligning their outcomes to the Act's core principles.

The Act 

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The fundamental principles of the Act are designed to drive the delivery of all social care service providers.

  • Voice and control: Putting the individual adult or child, including unpaid carers, at the centre of their care and support. They should be allowed control to reach the outcomes that help them achieve well-being across all aspects of their lives. Many third sector organisations already operate in this manner and are user-led or provide advocacy in a variety of forms.
  • Prevention and early intervention: Increasing preventative services within the community to stop needs growing.
  • Co-production: Encouraging individuals to become more involved in the design and delivery of services that they need. Many third sector organisations already work in this way, and more providers can learn from their expertise. 
  • Multi agency: Strong partnership working between all agencies and organisations, with integration being the key driver for change.
  • People: Children, adults and carers, their families and communities are rich assets and at the centre of the framework for working. Talking and listening to people is key to delivering well-being and unlocking the potential for creativity.
  • Well-being: supporting people to achieve their own well-being and measuring the success of care and support. 'Well-being' is a broad term applied across several areas within the Act and includes safeguarding (the prevention of and protection from abuse, harm and neglect), but it also applies to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of an individual.

The Act demands a change in culture to help individuals achieve their well-being outcomes - firstly by asking "what matters to you?" and secondly by maximising an individual's own support networks and access to community and voluntary resources. The aim is to shift the balance away from long term care and support, wherever possible. The third sector is key to supporting this culture change.

The role of the third sector

The Act sets out a vision for a stronger role for the third sector and social value organisations in implementation: 

Part 9 of the Act sets out arrangements for co-operation under the Act; actively encouraging partnership working across sectors and with individuals who need care and support, Part 9 also sets out the duty to establish seven Regional Partnership Boards to include third sector organisations within the membership. 

Section 16 (2) of the Act 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 Act imposes a duty on local authorities to promote how social enterprises, co-operative organisations, co-operative arrangements and third sector organisations provide care, support and preventative services in their area.

Each local and regional area will produce a Population Needs Assessment and a Local Area Plan which set out local priorities. Third sector organisations can make an important contribution to identifying the needs of local populations by sharing intelligence about unmet needs, which may be used to support the development of new services.

The third sector has a role to play in signposting organisations and individuals to information which relates to them. 

An easy read version of the Act is available on the Welsh Government's website, with specific information related to young people, carers, older people and disabled people.

Developing Regional Social Value Forums

The Code of Practice for the Act (Part 2) requires that seven Regional Social Value Forums are established to bring together 'social value' organisations/providers, including the third sector, to develop good practice and innovation and support the Regional Partnership Boards to achieve the best possible outcomes for people in need of care and support.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has developed a toolkit outlining the processes towards developing alternative social value delivery models as out in Part 9 of the Act.

Part 7 Safeguarding

Safeguarding is an over-arching theme of the Act. The details can be found under Part 7. The Act reinforces existing safeguarding arrangements for children through the introduction of a new duty for statutory partners including commissioned or funded service providers to report to the local authority any 'child at risk'.

A child may be termed '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.

An 'adult at risk' is also defined within the Act. A 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 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 children) 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 its 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.

Access to Advocacy and Information, Advice and Assistance

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Section 181 sets out that an individual must feel that they are an equal partner in their relationship with professionals and can invite someone of their choice to support them to participate fully and express their views wishes and feelings. This support can be provided by friends, family or wider support network. Some individuals will have a right to a formal, professional advocacy service. 

Section 17 requires that local authorities provide a local information, advice and assistance service and must publish information about:

  • How the care and support system operate 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

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 requirements.

Infoengine is a database of third sector and community services which can help support people with their daily lives and support needs. Dewis is a community services search website with information about the public sector services in their local area. The intention is to create a link between Dewis and Infoengine to ensure users of both systems can access the correct information.

Other resources

  • Information and resources about the Act can be found at the Hub, hosted by Social Care Wales.
  • Information about co-production in Wales can be found on the Co-production Network Wales website where you can find case studies and information about what co-production is and what co-production is not.
  • Wales Co-operative Centre's Care to Co-operate project provides information on how set up a new model such as Co-operative or Community Interest Company to provide social care services.
  • Social Business Wales is a useful site for anyone wanting to set up a start-up or operate as a social business. A range of resources from how to structure a social business through to developing a business plan are available, including templates.