The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, or 'the Act', provides a ground-breaking legal framework for improving the well-being of adults and children who need care and support, plus their carers, and for transforming the way care and support is provided now and, more importantly, in the future in Wales.
The Act will transform the way social services are delivered. It
- promote the integration of health and social care,
- encourage people to become independent to give them stronger
voice and control over their lives,
- give people greater freedom to decide what support they
- promote consistent, high-quality services across the
Third sector organisations can play their part in supporting the
delivery of the Act by aligning their outcomes to the Act's core
The fundamental principles of the Act are designed to drive the
delivery of all social care service providers.
- Voice and control: Putting the individual adult or child,
including unpaid carers, at the centre of their care and support.
They should be allowed control to reach the outcomes that help them
achieve well-being across all aspects of their lives. Many third
sector organisations already operate in this manner and are
user-led or provide advocacy in a variety of forms.
- Prevention and early intervention: Increasing preventative
services within the community to stop needs growing.
- Co-production: Encouraging individuals to become more involved
in the design and delivery of services that they need. Many third
sector organisations already work in this way, and more providers
can learn from their expertise.
- Multi agency: Strong partnership working between all agencies
and organisations, with integration being the key driver for
- People: Children, adults and carers, their families and
communities are rich assets and at the centre of the framework for
working. Talking and listening to people is key to delivering
well-being and unlocking the potential for creativity.
- Well-being: supporting people to achieve their own
well-being and measuring the success of care and support.
'Well-being' is a broad term applied across several areas within
the Act and includes safeguarding (the prevention of and protection
from abuse, harm and neglect), but it also applies to the physical,
mental and emotional well-being of an individual.
The Act demands a change in culture to help individuals achieve
their well-being outcomes - firstly by asking "what matters to
you?" and secondly by maximising an individual's own support
networks and access to community and voluntary resources. The aim
is to shift the balance away from long term care and support,
wherever possible. The third sector is key to supporting this
The role of the third sector
The Act sets out a vision for a stronger role for the third
sector and social value organisations in implementation:
Part 9 of the Act sets out arrangements for co-operation under
the Act; actively encouraging partnership working across sectors
and with individuals who need care and support, Part 9 also sets
out the duty to establish seven
Regional Partnership Boards to include third sector
organisations within the membership.
Section 16 (2) of the Act states that local authorities are
required to promote care and support services, including services
for carers, and preventative services which are provided by social
enterprises, co-operatives, user-led organisations and third sector
Section 16 (1) of the Act imposes a duty on local authorities to
promote how social enterprises, co-operative organisations,
co-operative arrangements and third sector organisations provide
care, support and preventative services in their area.
Each local and regional area will produce a Population Needs
Assessment and a Local Area Plan which set out local priorities.
Third sector organisations can make an important contribution to
identifying the needs of local populations by sharing intelligence
about unmet needs, which may be used to support the development of
The third sector has a role to play in signposting organisations
and individuals to information which relates to them.
An easy read version of the Act is available on the Welsh
Government's website, with specific information related to
young people, carers, older people and disabled people.
Developing Regional Social Value Forums
The Code of Practice for the Act (Part 2) requires that seven
Regional Social Value Forums are established to bring together
'social value' organisations/providers, including the third sector,
to develop good practice and innovation and support the Regional
Partnership Boards to achieve the best possible outcomes for people
in need of care and support.
The Wales Co-operative Centre has developed a
toolkit outlining the processes towards
developing alternative social value delivery models as out in
Part 2 Code of Practice.
The below case studies follow the journey towards developing
some of these models.
study: Early Help Hub, Flintshire
study: Community Connectors, Powys
study: Working co-productively in Gwent in learning disability
Part 7 Safeguarding
Safeguarding is an over-arching theme of the Act. The details
can be found under Part 7. The Act reinforces existing safeguarding
arrangements for children through the introduction of a new duty
for statutory partners including commissioned or funded service
providers to report to the local authority any 'child at risk'.
A child may be termed 'at risk' when:
- They have care and support needs (whether these are being met
or not) and,
- they appear to be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect.
An 'adult at risk' is also defined within the Act. A local
authority is required to investigate where they suspect that an
adult with care and support needs is at risk of abuse or neglect.
Adult protection and support orders are introduced to authorise
entry to premises for the purpose of enabling an authorised officer
to assess whether an adult is at risk of abuse or neglect and, if
so, what, if any, action should be taken. Relevant partners are
placed under a duty to report to the appropriate local authority
where they suspect that people (adult or children) may be at risk
of abuse or neglect.
Regulation 6 requires the six regional Safeguarding Boards to
give children or adults who are, or may be, affected by the
exercise of the Board's functions an opportunity to participate in
its work. There may be a role here for local voluntary or community
organisations to support this participation.
- Functions of the safeguarding boards include: to review the
training needs of and promote the provision of suitable training
for persons working to achieve the Board's objectives
- to arrange and facilitate an annual programme of multi-agency
Both these opportunities should extend to include the third
Access to Advocacy and Information, Advice and
Section 181 sets out that an individual must feel that they are
an equal partner in their relationship with professionals and can
invite someone of their choice to support them to participate fully
and express their views wishes and feelings. This support can be
provided by friends, family or wider support network. Some
individuals will have a right to a formal, professional advocacy
Section 17 requires that local authorities provide a local
information, advice and assistance service and must publish
- How the care and support system operate in the local authority
- The types of care and support available.
- How to access the care and support that is available.
- How to raise concerns about the well-being of a person who
appears to have needs for care and support.
This service must be accessible
Local authorities must compile registers of people, including
children, with disabilities and sensory impairments and their
preferred methods of communication to help ensure that there is
provision to meet their well-being outcomes and requirements.
Infoengine is a
database of third sector and community services which can help
support people with their daily lives and support needs. Dewis is a community services
search website with information about the public sector services in
their local area. The intention is to create a link between Dewis
and Infoengine to ensure users of both systems can access the
- Information and resources about the Act can be found at the Hub, hosted by Social
- Information about co-production in Wales can be found on the Co-production
Network Wales website where you can find case studies
and information about what co-production is and what co-production
- Wales Co-operative Centre's Care
to Co-operate project provides information on how set up a
new model such as Co-operative or Community Interest Company to
provide social care services.
Business Wales is a useful site for anyone wanting to set
up a start-up or operate as a social business. A range of resources
from how to structure a social business through to developing a
business plan are available, including templates.