New proposals to reform social services, including giving people more control over the care they receive and increased rights to assessments of their needs, have been announced by the Welsh Government.
Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services and Children, launched a public consultation on the Social Services (Wales) Bill, a major piece of legislation that is set to transform the delivery of social services in Wales.
The proposed Bill aims to give people greater freedom to decide which services they need while offering consistent, high-quality services across the country.
The proposed legislation would:
* Allow Welsh Ministers to consider extending the range of services available by direct payments, meaning people will have more control over the services they use;
* Introduce national eligibility criteria and ensure people are assessed on what they need, rather than just on what services are available locally;
* Introduce portable assessments, which means people will be entitled to similar services if they move from one part of Wales to another without having their needs re-assessed if they haven’t changed;
* Require local authorities to provide information to carers on their rights and the services available to them in their local areas;
* Create a national adoption service to improve the outcomes of child placements.
Steps will also be taken to reinforce the role of the Public Services Ombudsman to complement the changes already announced to modernise the social services complaints system.
The Deputy Minister made the announcement during a visit to Dewis Centre for Independent Living (CIL) in Pontypridd, a voluntary organisation which supports disabled people’s rights to develop their own independent lifestyle. Like the provisions in the new Bill, their services aim to support people to achieve the outcomes they want.
The Deputy Minister said:
“This Bill is an excellent example of how we are using the new powers of the National Assembly to make a real difference to the lives of the people of Wales.
“This Bill is about giving people a stronger voice and real control over the social care services they use, and to help meet their changing needs.
“We are not prepared to sit by as fewer and fewer people receive the support they need. The Bill will drive the development of new models of service that maintain and improve the wellbeing of people in need.
“There will be a stronger focus through the Bill on preventative and early intervention services, based on greater partnership working and integration of services between local authorities and partners.
“Service users and their carers must be involved. This means assessments must be about the outcomes that are important to them, not just about eligibility for a particular service.
“This Bill will help us all tackle the many challenges facing social services in Wales but will also allow us all to seize the opportunities before us”.
The consultation will last for three months, running from the 12 March to the 1 June 2012.