Local authorities and health boards in Wales are to be required to come together in new statutory partnerships to drive integration, innovation and service change, under social services legislation that has come into force this week.
The Welsh Government said the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 was aimed at transforming the way social services are delivered in Wales – it is designed to ensure social services meet the needs of individuals, give people a voice in how social services assess and deliver their care and support, and ensure services are sustainable for the future.
It added that the legislation would:
- Focus on earlier intervention, “increasing preventative services in the community, helping people maintain their independence and enabling people to get the help they need before their situation becomes critical”;
- Give carers an equal right to assessment for support to those they care for. “Local authorities will have a duty under the Act to undertake a carer’s assessment where carers need support";
- Introduce new safeguarding powers;
- Ensure easy access to information and advice is available to all;
- Introduce new eligibility criteria focused on individual need, replacing the current threshold system;
- Introduce portable assessments, “so people who move from one part of Wales to another will receive the services they need in their new area without immediately having to undergo a new assessment”;
- Introduce new arrangements so that, if they want to, young people will be supported to stay with their foster carers until they reach 21 (or 25 if they are in education or training).
Mark Drakeford, Health and Social Services Minister in the Welsh Government, said: “From midnight tonight, a new made-in-Wales system for the care and support of our most vulnerable citizens, which is fairer and more sustainable, will come into force. It will ensure the right services are available in the right place, at the right time – helping people live their lives in the way they want to.
“We are also giving carers an equal right to assessment for support to those they care for, while new safeguarding powers will help keep vulnerable children and adults safer.
“I’m confident the new system will improve the care and support we provide to people in Wales for the better.”