The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill is currently making its way through the National Assembly for Wales. Our briefing below sets out what the Bill is trying to achieve and what this means for carers and our network partners.
What is the Bill trying to achieve?
- The Bill is intended to secure the well-being of people in Wales and to improve the quality of care and support. The drivers for the Bill include high profile and serious incidents in Southern Cross, Mid Staffs and Winterbourne as well as Operation Jasmine, an independent review of care homes in South Wales.
- Related to this, the Bill wants to ensure market stability, minimise the risks of provider failure and recognise that culpability for abuse or neglect is not solely held by those in the frontline.
What is the Bill going to do?
The Bill will:
- change how services are regulated and registered and what the requirements of registration are.
- reconstitute the Care Council for Wales as Social Care Wales, and will provide for the registration, regulation and training of social care workers
- will place duties on the local authority to monitor and report on market stability
Changes to Regulation and Registration
- Registration of regulated services will no longer be registered separately by location but rather by type of service. Service providers would make one application for registration which could be varied for further services at further locations
- Service providers would need to submit annual returns to the Welsh Government which the Government would then publish, it’s intented that these returns will include financial information information on staff turnover, an evaluation of how the service is being delivered, details of training programmes for staff, and number of complaints received.
- All service providers would need to have a ‘Responsible Individual’ at a place of service provision, the same individual can be designated as the responsible individual at more than one place
- The Bill would give Ministers the power to apply for an order to urgently cancel the registration of a service provider to prevent harm
- The Bill introduces the power for Ministers to charge fees for regulatory activities. This includes potentially charging to register, and charging to receive a copy of an inspection report. The Government intends to introduce these fees for partial cost recovery, arguing it brings Wales into line with the rest of the UK, but would consult those affected before introducing it.
Changes to Inspection Regime
- The Bill provides Ministers with the ability to introduce inspection ratings in relation to the quality of care and support provided by a service provider. The Government has stated that it intends to introduce ratings and that there will be significant consultation prior to these being introduced
- Local authorities will have the power to authorise entry and inspection of premises, and Welsh Ministers will have the power to require information. The Welsh Government will also have to prepare and publish a code of practice about inspections.
Local Authorities & Market Oversight
- The Bill would require local authorities to publish annual reports and local market stability reports. These reports would need to include an assessment of the sufficiency of the provision of care and support in the area. This includes the financial sustainability of the market – these reports, if properly executed, may flag up where services for carers are being inadequately funded by local authorities.
- The annual reports must also include details on what extent the authority acted in accordance with codes issued under the Social Services and Well-being Act regarding well-being outcomes
- There is provision in the Bill for Welsh Ministers to monitor and review the financial sustainability of certain service providers. They must inform local authorities where service provider failure is likely.
- Welsh Government will be required to prepare and publish national reports about the stability of the market for social care services
Social Care Wales and the Workforce
- The Care Council for Wales will be renamed Social Care Wales and the Bill sets out its main objective to be to protect, promote and maintain the safety and well-being of the public in Wales. In addition to the existing objectives, SCW will also be required to promote and maintain high standards in two new areas:
- In provision of care and support services
- Public confidence in social care workers
- The Bill would make provision for SCW to charge fees for certain things including registration of workforce and provision of copies of the codes of practice
- Social Care Wales will continue to maintain a register of social workers and relevant social care workers. The description of those who have to register may be changed by Welsh Government in future but the Government has stated it is not their current intention to do so.
- The reform of the social care workforce is at this point restricted to social workers and managers of services