New Rights for Wales’ 370,000 Carers from April 2016

Gwenda Thomas

Carers in Wales will have equal legal rights to those they look after when a landmark Welsh law comes into force in April 2016, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas announced at the beginning of Carers Week.There are estimated to be more than 370,000 carers in Wales, 90,000 of whom look after family and friends for at least 50 hours a week. Between 70% and 95% of the care provided to people in communities across Wales is given freely by family and friends.

The Deputy Minister made the announcement during a visit to Neath Port Talbot Carers Service to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. Neath Port Talbot has the highest number of carers anywhere in Wales – 20,365 (2011 Census).

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which gained Royal Assent in May, will transform the way in which social services are delivered through a focus on achieving results that are necessary to promote the welfare of the person – as an individual, as a family and as part of a community.

Under the Act, carers – who is someone, of any age, who provides unpaid care and support to a relative, friend or neighbour who needs care and support – will no longer need to be providing ‘a substantial amount of care on a regular basis’ to be able to have an assessment. The local authority will have a duty under the Act to undertake a carer’s assessment where it appears they have needs for support.

The Act provides:

  • A wider definition of carers than that which exists in current legislation to include those who provide, or intend to provide, care.
  • Consultation with, and the involvement of, carers will be required as an integral part of the assessment process for the person cared for subject to the views of the individual.
  • That the person conducting the assessment must have regard to the individual carer’s views, wishes and feelings. This assessment must take into account the ability and willingness of the carer to continue caring as well as their employment, education, training or leisure needs (for adults) and development needs (for children).
  • A duty on local authorities to meet the needs of carers who themselves have eligible needs. Where the carer has eligible needs they will be entitled to have a statutory support plan which the local authority must regularly review.
  • A new duty on local authorities and Health Boards to secure the provision of an Information, Advice and Assistance service, to provide people with information and advice relating to care and support, and with assistance in accessing it.

The Welsh Government’s Carers Strategy for Wales, which was refreshed in 2013, sets out a coherent framework so that agencies across Wales can continue to work together to deliver services and support to carers.

Gwenda Thomas said:

“My commitment to carers and their needs is unwavering. They provide an invaluable service to those that they care for. Without their commitment, our health and social care services would collapse.

“I’m delighted to be able to announce during Carers’ Week that these measures will come into force in 2016. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act addresses real life issues which matter to carers. It ensures that carers receive the help they need, in the ways they need it.”

“I am committed to ensuring I do everything I can to support carers across Wales and thank them for the invaluable work they do day in, day out.”