Gwenda Thomas - Deputy Minister for Social Services
Today I will use my speech at the National Social Services Conference in Llandudno to announce the publication of the Technical Group Report on Eligibility. Assembly Members paid particular attention to eligibility during the passage of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and this Report sets out the eligibility model which I am minded to pursue through regulations and will follow a super-affirmative process.
The Technical Group on Eligibility was established to advise me on the Regulations and Code of Practice for determining eligibility for care and support services under Part Four of the Act. The work of the Technical Group has been completed and tested with our major partners through stakeholder engagement events facilitated by the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA), the Citizen Panel and the Association of Directors for Social Services (ADSS) Cymru. This development process has been facilitated independently by the Institute of Public Care and the Report reflects the issues arising during this process.
The Report proposes three options for an eligibility model and the Technical Group recommended pursuing Option 3, which involves a fundamental re-design of eligibility. I have accepted the Report and the recommendation to pursue the eligibility model set out in Option 3. As a result, a longer and more deliberate engagement with stakeholders will add value. This option is preferred for the following reasons:
- This approach to eligibility recognises the distinction between a local authority’s general duties to meet the well-being outcomes of its population (as set out in Part 2 of the Act) and the establishment of an enforceable right for the individual (as required through parts 3 and 4 of the Act).
- It encourages the local authority to meet its duties to provide information, advice and assistance services as well as the provision of preventative services.
- The option supports people’s rights to have respectful conversations about their well-being and to exercise a strong voice and control in decisions about their care.
- It will ensure that people themselves are at the centre of decisions and are enabled at all times to maintain their well-being using a strengths based approach.
- The model also attends to the transient nature of eligibility. Whilst the status of need as an ‘eligible’ need may change, access to the right support to attain well-being outcomes is maintained.
- This is a model where the need for help to get the support creates the eligibility and so mandates/legally requires the local authority to respond.
The success of the model is dependent on all elements of the support system working effectively. As I have said, first and foremost we need assessment arrangements that focus on a person’s needs and well-being outcomes. Local authorities must ensure there is accessible provision of information, advice and assistance and an appropriate assessment process in place to support this conversation on eligibility. These areas are also being pursued through technical groups and will do so in the context of the eligibility model proposed in the report.
Together the wider set of regulations and code of practice on assessment, eligibility and care planning will form the full picture for the implementation of the Act. I intend to issue a full public consultation on this set of regulations and code of practice in the autumn.
The Report has been published on our website for comment over the summer. I am of the opinion that the Report offers a framework for eligibility that we can communicate with stakeholders and our intention is to refine this model through a process of engagement whilst the regulations are drafted.
The Minister for Health and Social Services and I have today announced the publication of the national outcomes framework. This will support the eligibility model of person centred care.