Rebecca Evans, Minister for Social Services and Public Health
We are now entering the second phase of implementation of The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. The Act provides the statutory framework for the regulation and inspection of social care, and the regulation of the social care workforce, in Wales. It establishes a regulatory regime which is consistent with the changes being delivered by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 through upholding the rights of Welsh citizens to dignified, safe and appropriate care, and it supports improvement by broadening the powers of the Care Council for Wales, now Social Care Wales, to include driving, supporting and overseeing improvement in the sector.
The 2016 Act created the broad approach to the new regulation and inspection regime, with the detail of the system contained in a range of sources including regulations, a code of practice and statutory guidance. This new statutory framework is being developed in three overlapping phases with extensive stakeholder engagement, designed to give the sector and regulators both the maximum possible scope to shape the proposals, and time to implement them.
The elements of the first phase of implementation concerning the regulation of the workforce were successfully implemented on 3 April this year, with the establishment of Social Care Wales and implementation of the new workforce regulatory process. I look forward to seeing Social Care Wales use all the tools at its disposal to support and drive improvement in this vital area of the sector.
This first phase also opened up discussion on some of the processes underpinning the new system of service regulation regarding registration of service providers, annual returns and notifications to local authorities. Building on this, in our phase 2 consultation which has just launched, we are turning our focus towards service regulation, specifically to the proposed requirements on service providers and Responsible Individuals in the domiciliary support and children’s and adults’ residential care sectors, and the regulations and statutory guidance which set these out.
This phase also gives us an opportunity to explore how we can use regulation and inspection, alongside workforce development activity, to respond to some of the pressing issues in domiciliary care. My officials are currently finalising our legislative proposals in this area, with a view to commencing a consultation, under phase 2, on them next month. I will provide a further update to Members on this in due course.
Our third phase will then complete the statutory framework by dealing with the requirements on service providers and Responsible Individuals within adoption, fostering, advocacy, and adult placement (also known as shared lives) services as well as requirements regarding market stability and inspection of local authorities.
The phase 2 consultation will run for 12 weeks to maximise the opportunity for people to respond and to have their say in helping to shape this part of the statutory framework. In support of this consultation we are holding four half-day engagement events for stakeholders. The events will be held on 21 June in Cardiff and 13 July in Wrexham. The purpose of these events is to promote engagement and to provide stakeholders with an understanding of the regulations and topics we are consulting upon, with the aim of supporting them to produce their consultation responses. Invitations to the events will be distributed shortly and we are using stakeholder networks to reach as many interested parties as possible.
Following the closure of the consultation and analysis of the responses we will consider any proposed changes to the regulations and amend them accordingly during the autumn. We will also take the opportunity to consider whether we should make any changes to the service regulations consulted on in phase 1, in light of what the phase 2 consultation tells us.
It is my intention that the regulations in this phase, alongside those service regulations consulted on in phase 1, will be laid before the National Assembly by the end of this year, to come into force in April 2018. The phase 3 regulations will then be consulted upon in the spring and summer of 2018 and laid by the end of the year, in order to come into force from April 2019. This will complete the statutory framework around service regulation.
The Act as a whole is expected to be implemented from April 2019. My officials are working closely with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales and the wider sector to do their part in preparing for the transition to the new system established by the 2016 Act and their important new role in this.