The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act came into force on the 6 April 2016 and ushers in new rights and entitlements for carers in Wales. It brings with it a broader definition of a carer and stronger duties on local authorities to identify, assess and support carers. This presents us with one of the most significant opportunities to transform and improve support for Wales’ carers. There are at least 370,000 carers in Wales, caring unpaid for a friend or family member, contributing 96% of care in the community and £8.1 billion worth of care in Wales every year.
The Act means that:
- The definition of a carer is broader and includes more people, that means that more carers are entitled to carer’s assessments and support plans
- Carers no longer have to request an assessment, local authorities must offer assessments where they believe a carer has a need for support
- Staff must promote the well-being of carers who need support
- Local authorities must assess the needs of carers in their area and submit a plan to Ministers on how they will meet these needs
A carer now has an enforceable right to support from the local authority when they meet the eligibility criteria
There is a greater focus on the role of local third sector organisations in providing services and support
Carers Trust Wales has always welcomed the intention of the Act, the aim that more carers are reached, and the principle that carers be given support at the right time rather than at crisis point. Now it is up to all of us to make sure that these rights and entitlements are delivered. It’s vital in the coming months that local authorities, local health boards, and charities work to raise awareness of carers’ rights and entitlements, and ensure carers are given the support they are entitled to.
Carers Trust Wales will be doing our part, working with our network of local services and online to raise awareness about the changes with carers, making sure that carers know exactly what they are entitled to and what support they should be receiving. We will also be working nationally with local authorities and local health boards to ensure that the positive changes promised to carers in the Act are delivered.
These are huge changes, and presents us with a real opportunity to improve the lives of carers. But this can only be achieved through understanding, hard work and partnership. For too long, carers have had to fight for the recognition and support they both need and deserve. We cannot let the promises that this legislation makes to carers amount to just empty words, it is now time for local authorities and local health boards to step up and promote, protect and recognise carers in Wales.
For more information please contact Kieron Rees.