The Welsh Government are to transform the social care bill and how care is delivered, and see carers as key to this.
With extra pressures being put on the social care system from an aging population, the Welsh Government want to give carers the same legal rights to support as the people they look after.
The Social Services Bill will widen the range of people and organisations delivering social services in order to give those in need of support greater choice and more control over the help they receive.
Ministers say it will also give people a say over the care they receive and increased control over care budgets as social workers will have new powers to enter homes and speak to vulnerable adults.
The bill is intended to:
- introduce national eligibility criteria, so people are assessed according to their needs, regardless of where they live;
- create “portable assessments”, meaning people will not have to be re-assessed if they move to a new authority;
- establish a national adoption service;
- and allow council officers to apply to the courts so they can enter homes and speak to adults suspected of being at risk.
The requirement on assessing carers' needs replaces an existing law which says carers must give “a substantial amount of care on a regular basis” before they are assessed. The government say this will simplify the law and ensure they have the same legal rights to be treated the same as the people they look after.
The charity Carers Wales has estimated that the contribution made by unpaid carers who look after friends and relatives is worth more than £7bn, and so with an aging population, looking after these people and encouraging carers is essential. The Welsh government have recognised this in documents released with the bill, and say that radical changes are needed to meet pressure on services.
The charity Scope said regulations should be written to benefit as many people as possible.
Deputy social services minister Gwenda Thomas said:
This bill is an excellent example of how we are using the new powers of the National Assembly to make a real difference to the lives of the people of Wales.
This bill is about giving people a stronger voice and real control over the social care services they use, and to help meet their changing needs.
Assessments for service users and their carers must be about the outcomes that are important to them, not just about eligibility for a particular service.
Mario Kreft, chief executive of Care Forum Wales, said the current system of social services care had simply evolved and that they need to take control of the new direction it is heading in, to which improving people's wellbeing long term is essential. However they need to recognise how much public money would be going to into the service which is already under pressure.
But David Niven, former chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, warned there could be pitfalls in the new system:
You've got to appreciate that within the system and within the fact that money and resources is going to be given to each individual in order to control the spend more there is going to be situations of abuse.
And if you deregulate and take away overlooking of this system in many ways you're also going to open the door for the small minority of people that will abuse the vulnerable.
Source: BBC News