Social Services and Well-being Act

The Social Services and Well-being Act came into force in April 2016. It establishes the legislative framework for transforming the way people’s needs for care and support and carers needs for support are met and to make social services in Wales sustainable. The Act imposes a number of duties on local authorities, health boards and Welsh Ministers so that:

  • People have more control over what support they receive, and make decisions about their care and support as an equal partner
  • People receive an assessment of their care and support needs which looks at capacity, resources and the outcomes people need to achieve, and then to identify how best they can be supported to achieve them
  • Carers have an equal right to assessment for support to those who they care for
  • Easy access to information and advice is available to all
  • Powers to safeguard people are stronger
  • A preventative approach to meeting care and support needs is practised
  • Local authorities and health boards come together in new statutory partnerships to drive integration, innovation and service change

The Act aims to promote equality, improve the quality of services and enhance access to the provision of information people receive. It also aims to encourage a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention.

Principles of the new Act

The fundamental principles of the Act are:

Voice and control – putting the individual and their needs, at the centre of their care, and giving them a voice in, and control over reaching the outcomes that help them achieve well-being

Prevention and early intervention – increasing preventative services within the community to minimise the escalation of critical need

Well-being – supporting people to achieve their own well-being and measuring the success of care and support

Co-production – encouraging individuals to become more involved in the design and delivery of services

Assessment and Care Planning

Assessments should be carried out in the best way to meet individual needs, and the new process aims to be simple and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy. The focus of the assessment process should be on what matters to the person and how they can use their own strengths and resources to help do those things.

The assessment process should be based on the principle of co-production ensuring that it involves a relationship where practitioners and individuals share the power to plan and deliver support together, and recognising that all partners have vital contributions to make in helping to meet identified personal outcomes.

An assessment may conclude that, immediate needs having been met, a more comprehensive assessment is required and the further assessment can be undertaken by a single practitioner with further information from other sources. However, any need for a more specialist assessment to be undertaken must not prevent or delay appropriate services being provided.

A local authority may combine a person’s needs assessment with the needs assessment of his or her carer if it considers it would be beneficial to do so. However, the local authority may only do so if valid consent is given by or in respect of those people.

Overview of the Act

The Act has 11 parts to it:

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: General Functions
Part 3: Assessing the Needs of Individuals
Part 4: Meeting Needs
Part 5: Charging and Financial Assessment
Part 6: Looked After and Accommodated Children Part 7: Safeguarding
Part 8: Social Services Functions
Part 9: Co-operation and Partnership
Part 10: Complaints, Representations and Advocacy Services
Part 11: Miscellaneous and General

Further detailed information about all the provisions of the new Act, including regulations under the Act, the nine separate Codes of Practice and supporting advice and guidance can be found on the Care Council for Wales’ learning hub.