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Well-Being in Wales
Last month saw a big change in social services law - in Wales. It is being trumpeted as one of the most extensive and significant pieces of law since Wales was given its own devolved assembly fifteen years ago. The Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 became law on the 1st May and is a major reform for how adult care services operate. One of the most significant features of this law is how it promotes well-being.
The idea of well-being in mental health is a relatively modern way of thinking. Traditional and more medical models of mental health have focused on the idea of mental ill-health as something you either have got or haven’t got. In this way of thinking mental ill-health is defined by symptoms of illness. More up-to-date thinking about mental health problems focuses on the idea that people can make a recovery from these problems. One of the ideas contained in thinking about recovery is the importance of gaining a sense of well-being.
Provision in Wales
So what does the new law in Wales say? Well first of all the law promotes the importance of well-being in relation to all areas of someone’s life, not just their physical and mental health but in terms well-being in other areas such as family life, the contribution people can make to society, and their control over their own day to day to lives. The idea of taking control of your own life is a key element of gaining recovery.
The recovery vision
In delivering training on ways of care planning for people with mental health problems, I’ve made reference to an excellent article called ‘The Recovery Vision for Mental Health Services and Research: A British Perspective’ by Judy Turner-Crowson and Jan Wallcraft. This article summarizes a number of themes about what recovery should mean. You can see the influence of these themes in a number of areas of the new adult care law in Wales. The law promotes the idea of new organisations outside the statutory professional sector such as social enterprises, co-operatives, user-led services and the voluntary sector all taking a greater role in providing care and support to adults. There is also a new duty on local authorities to develop preventative services, reducing the future need for people to receive care.
Incidentally, the new Care Act 2014 in England also received Royal Assent last month. More about that in a future blog.