A law made in Wales for Wales

Mary van den Heuvel welcomes a potential end to 15 minute care visits

Last Thursday marks a bit of a landmark for the National Assembly for Wales. The passing of the Social Services and Well-being Act into law sees the Assembly move the majority of social care law onto its own statute book.  Or put simply – this law has been made in Wales for Wales. And importantly places the wellbeing of people at the centre of planning and delivery of social care services.

Back in October I said the new law on social care services was “an opportunity to ensure that commissioning is of high quality services. By definition these should exclude 15 minute personal care at home visits being the norm.”

Happily, I am able to report that the final wording of the law could very well put an end to those inadequate 15 minute visits – meaning that care at home will have to be focused more around the individual’s needs.

We’re really pleased Section 34 of the Bill sees the inclusion of Jocelyn Davies AM’s amendment, or change, to the Bill, which could make a real difference in terms of people receiving dignified care at home visits:

“Where a local authority is meeting a person’s needs under sections 35 to 45 by providing or arranging care and support at the person’s home, the local authority must satisfy itself that any visits to the person’s home for that purpose are of sufficient length to provide the person with the care and support required to meet the needs in question.

( )      A code issued under section 145 must include guidelines as to the length of visits to a person’s home for the purpose of providing care and support.’.

In other words, when a social worker or other professional is putting together a care plan with someone, they must include care visits that are long enough to meet his or her needs. Short care visits that force people to choose between having something to drink and going to the loo are unacceptable.

This change to end short, inadequate, care at home visits, was accepted by the Deputy Minister on behalf of the Welsh Government and given cross-party support from everyone in the Assembly.

The passing of the Social Services and Well-being Act into law is not the end of the story. Many parts of the Act will not come into force immediately, and full implementation is planned for 2016. The change in focus to put someone’s wellbeing at the centre of their care or support will take a while to bed in. And although the Act is final, the regulations are being written. This is then not the end of the process. You could say it is just the beginning.

Mary van den Heuvel is the Policy & Assembly Officer for Leonard Cheshire Disability in Wales. For more information on Leonard Cheshire's campaign to make care fair, go to www.leonardcheshire.org

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