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Welsh Government unveils law to overhaul regulation and inspection of social care

The Regulation and Inspection Bill will shift the responsibility for care failings away from the frontline to ensure providers are held accountable

Photo: National Assembly for  Wales/ Flickr
Photo: National Assembly for Wales/ Flickr

A law that will see social care providers held more accountable for failing to provide a good quality service has been introduced before the National Assembly for Wales.

The Regulation and Inspection Bill aims to shift accountability away from frontline staff to ensure employers and service providers share the responsibility when things go wrong.

Each service provider will now be expected to appoint a ‘responsible individual’ when they register, who will be subject to a fitness and suitability check for the role.

New models

The bill will also introduce a new model of service regulation, under which providers will have to register to deliver in a particular service area, such as residential or domiciliary care, rather than as individual establishments or agencies, as now.

The Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales will be given the power to rate services after inspections and will require providers to produce an annual report on their performance.

Inspections will continue to focus on the minimum standards established by the Care Standards Act 2000, but will now also include an assessment of service users’ wellbeing.

Strengthen improvement

The Care Council for Wales, the organisation currently responsible for regulating the social care workforce, will also be reformed as ‘Social Care Wales’. Besides its existing workforce regulation and workforce development responsibilities, this would see the body given the power to advise care providers on how to improve.

Mark Drakeford, minister for health and social services, said: “We have learned lessons from Southern Cross, Mid Staffs, Operation Jasmine and other scandals where people being cared for were badly let down by services.

“We need to ensure our regulation regime reflects modern practice and the ever-changing world of social care. The new Bill, if passed, will create a regulation system geared to support success, not simply to identify failure.”

The Regulation and Inspection Bill is a ‘sibling’ to the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, which takes full effect in April 2016. If passed, the Regulation and Inspection Bill will be implemented in 2017.