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

2 thoughts on “A law made in Wales for Wales

  1. Oh dear. I hate the role of Jeremiah, I really do. Honestly, I am a sunny soul who looks on the bright side and hates to be thought a cynic. But some developments in Welsh public life are so air-headed that someone has to point it out. What is the use of aspirational laws that say what should and shouldn’t happen without any method worked out or adequate resources supplied to ensure the desired outcome? Which budget will be cut to provide additional care resources required? If practicality doesn’t matter, why not pass a law forbidding anyone to get cancer? I am seriously afraid the Welsh Assembly is developing a penchant for this sort of gesture legislation without doing the hard work of crafting practical policies and winning political support for them. Of all the things Wales needs, more unenforceable laws – not on the list.

  2. I look forward to Ms van den Heuvel’s response to R. Tredwyn because, as a policy officer for a major charity she must, in her welcome for this measure, have taken account of the costing issue.

    Fifteen-minute calls, in my 14-year experience as a carer for elderly relatives, are distressing and counter-productive which is why I opted for the Direct Payment method of care delivery which enabled me to arrange 90-minute visits. http://www.clickonwales.org/2012/01/cardiff-pioneers-autonomy-in-social-care/
    As a society we have our priorities wrong. Personal care should be something we value so highly that we will train care workers diligently, accord them respect and pay them well. Any relative of someone who needs care knows how distressing it is to even suspect that a care worker has been brusque, or worse, yet we continue to tolerate a system of care provision economics which does little to encourage companies to prioritise high standards.
    Is this new Act ‘gesture legislation’? I don’t know as I have not yet read it – though I certainly will now!
    Certainly I don’t yet sense in Wales a coherent public sense of the need to make a radical improvement in care provision. This could be because for many families the effort to cope is so draining. Perhaps it is only when one is in a care situation that the realities hit home. There are long stretches of the day and night to be covered outside of the allotted number of care hours. This doesn’t leave much energy for campaigning and I believe that coupled with this is an almost fatalistic acceptance of ‘cuts’, in this as in so many other areas.
    R. Tredwyn is right to point to the need to win political support for any practical policies. Why do we accept this low standard? Why don’t we demand more? Why are the most vulnerable paying with their distress? Is the answer higher taxes?
    Ms van den Heuvel says, ‘although the Act is final, the regulations are being written’. Maybe she could explain that further. And does she think R. Tredwyn is right to worry that the aspirations have no funding to make them realities? If she does, then what can we do?

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