Carers in Wales to have needs assessed

Gwenda Thomas, deputy minister for children and social services in the Welsh Government, has introduced a major new piece of legislation which, if passed, will see carers in Wales have their needs assessed as part of proposals designed to transform social care in the country.

Entitled the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill, it says more individuals who care for disabled, sick and frail relatives should be entitled to help at home, with them being given a payment that provides them with greater control over their care budget.

Ms Thomas said: “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.”

She explained the well-being of those in need should be improved thanks to the development of new models of service being driven further, while a greater emphasis is to be placed on early and preventative intervention services.

Patricia Doorbar, a member of the British Psychological Society based in North Wales, comments:

“This bill is a big step in the right direction, but its success will depend on detail and is not likely to be a cheap option. If the spirit of the bill is to be honored then cash will have to follow.

“We must all welcome the premise of this bill that both carers and those they care for can ask for the services that they need rather than being told what they are going to get. For too long their views have been subject to tokenistic consultations and their needs tailored to fit what is available.

“Being a carer can be is frequently a 24 hour job, with little time for rest or a separate life outside the home. It can also be lonely and is not necessarily rewarding.- respite care is limited and patchy.

“Whilst it is difficult to argue with  ideals expressed in this bill there are inevitably a number of concerns. Direct payements will be dependent on assessment and the sum of money decided on  will determine what services can be  purchased.

“The introduction of services which are not already in the area, may be desirable but must have a cost implication  and a dependence on the skill base within the area. Many current services are already stretched to the limits: try getting an appointment for cognitive behavioural therapy or the services of a respite carer without a very long wait.

“And how will carers and those looked after by them be made aware of services? Many will find it hard to find out what services are already available to them.

“It is all too often assumed that carers and cared for will share the same vision. Listening to and observing vulnerable people can be a difficult process; those listening need to be highly skilled and familiar with the communication skills of the individuals concerned. This can take several visits.

“Who actually decides what the needs of an individual are, the professional with training and experience who makes the assessment or the carer who knows the individual ?

“As Bob Dylan says: ‘You know what you want babe but I know what you need’.”