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Provision for Carer’s and The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014
Last week I wrote about Carer's week in Wales and considered the essential role that Carers perform in delivering much needed support to their family members or loved ones. This week I would like to consider the measures in The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, 2014 which specifically consider the needs of Carers. I suppose the first thing to say is that identifying Carer's needs within legislation, is itself a departure and overdue state recognition of the debt of gratitude we owe to those who dedicate themselves to the needs of others. Local Authorities must now include consideration of Carers within their population assessment and planning processes as well as supporting achievement of their well-being goals.
Definition and Entitlements of Carers
There is a new definition of Carer within the Act, removing the requirement for care to be provided on a 'substantial' or 'regular' basis. The new definition is; ‘A person who provides or intends to provide care for an adult or disabled child.’ The same determinants of well-being must be considered in relation to Carers;
- Physical, mental, emotional well-being;
- Protection from abuse and neglect;
- Education, training, recreation;
- Domestic, family and personal relationships;
- Contribution made to society;
- Securing rights and entitlements;
- Social and economic well-being and suitability of living accommodation;
- For adults, it also includes control over day to day life and participation in work;
- For a child, it includes physical, intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural development and welfare.
Section 24 of The Act places a duty upon Social Services departments to assess the needs of a Carer. Included within the assessment must be consideration of;
- The specific support needs of the Carer;
- The financial means of the carer and whether these are sufficient;
- Whether the Carer is willing and able to continue in their role;
- What support, preventative services, advice or assistance is required;
- The outcomes which the Carer would like to achieve;
- Their work, training or educational requirements.
The Carer is entitled to refuse an assessment providing they are judged to have capacity to make a reasonable decision in this regard, although the local authority must make an assessment if later requested to do so or if there is a significant change in circumstances. Where the Carer is a child the local authority must make these (above) considerations within a framework of appropriateness, with reference to the age and capabilities of the child.
Statutory recognition of Carers needs is a little like strengthening the foundations of a building. Because the whole edifice of support and care depends upon informal Carers it will greatly strengthen the whole system by supporting and meeting the needs of Carers. It is quite simply in the best interests of service users, Carers and wider society.
If we think about some of the underlying principles of the Act, as set out by the Care Council for Wales, it becomes clearer as to how easily these measures fit into the strategic intent.
- Voice and control – Carers are central to enabling control for service users, by listening to their voice we are also listening to those that they care for. Putting the individual Carer and their needs, at the centre of things will further enable achievement of the desired outcomes for both service user and Carer.
- Prevention and early intervention – the Act seeks to increase preventative services within the community to minimise the escalation of critical need. By better supporting Carers there is recognition that they are best placed to respond to difficulties faced by service users and provide a timely response.
- Well-being – supporting Carers to identify and achieve their own well-being and measuring the success of care and support.
- Co-production – encouraging Carers to be involved in achieving their own and service user's support services.
The measures in the Act constitute a long overdue recognition of the invaluable role performed by Carers, along with a legal and service framework for meeting their reasonable needs and thereby better supporting them in their Care role.