Gwenda Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Sustainable Social Services for Wales places citizen’s voice and control at the heart of service delivery, promoting people’s well-being and supporting those with care and support needs.
Today I am updating members on progress with work to develop an Assessment and Eligibility Framework that will support the transformation of services and the implementation of sustainable social services.
The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill (‘the Bill’) will require that new arrangements for assessment and eligibility are put in place. To support our work to develop these arrangements in detail I commissioned the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) to produce a report.
That report - Access to Care and Well-being in Wales - highlighted the key features that must underpin future arrangements, to ensure that they fit with the framework set out in the Bill and are more flexible and responsive to the changing circumstances we all face. I am grateful to the SSIA and those who have contributed to date.
I have considered the SSIA report and accept their view that the key features should include:
- Better access to good information, advice and assistance to engage the citizen, with links to the resources available in the community to enable people to exercise their voice and control and make informed decisions.
- A wide spectrum of proportionate community-based support which citizens who have well-being needs can access without having to rely on a complex assessment and care package.
- More targeted help to assess individuals and families with significant and enduring needs, and to organise and secure the care and support they require.
I have listened to views expressed during Stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill and want to ensure the legal framework underpinning our new assessment and eligibility arrangements is sufficiently robust and flexible to deliver on our vision for people.
I have informed the Health & Social Care Committee that I intend to bring forward amendments to the Bill to strengthen local authorities duties so that;
- when assessing an individual the local authority must consider not only the individual’s needs and the outcome the person wishes to achieve but also the strengths and capacity of the individual, the family and others who may support them;
- irrespective of whether the individual has an eligible need they will have access to information, advice and (where necessary) assistance as well as to a range of preventative and other services in the community.
I welcome the publication of the Health & Social Care Committee’s report and will want to consider its recommendations over the summer, and respond in due course.
I have already made available a number of information factsheets on individual rights and entitlements.
New rights to assessment are an integral part of the new legislative framework. Assessments will be proportionate to need and prioritise well-being, and the outcomes people want to achieve. It will involve meaningful conversations between citizens and practitioners and others to better understand what is important for the individual and their families.
I am confident that the future system provided for within the Bill will be more equitable and improve care and wellbeing for people and their carers. I also believe the Assessment and Eligibility Framework we are now developing will provide a solid foundation for the transformation we want to achieve.
Over the coming months, we will be working with stakeholders to develop the Framework. I have been absolutely clear that this must include citizens. We must embed our commitment to giving people a strong voice and real control over the services they use at the heart of the development of these core processes. It is by listening to people who use services now – and indeed who may use services in the future – that we will get this right. This is our commitment to co-production.
I have announced that £1.5m will be available this year to build capacity across sectors to enable transformation.
I will want to keep you updated with progress on this important aspect of our transformation programme and will bring forward a. major policy statement on the proposed framework in the autumn.