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Welsh government sets out draft ‘eligibility test’ for new social care law

Eligibility criteria set out in first tranche of draft regulations underpinning Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014

by Andy McNicoll

The Welsh government has set out plans for an overarching ‘eligibility test’ for determining whether adults, children and carers qualify for support under a new social care law to be introduced in Wales from April 2016.

Under the plans, a person will be eligible for care if an assessment establishes that they “can and can only, overcome barriers to achieving their wellbeing outcomes” by the local authority preparing a care and support plan and ensuring it is delivered. The so-called ‘can and can only’ test is underpinned by more detailed regulations setting out what constitutes a ‘wellbeing outcome’ and specific criteria for what constitutes eligible need in adults, children and carers.

The eligibility plans are included in the first set of draft regulations and guidance underpinning the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 that has been put out to consultation. The 12 week public consultation also includes draft regulations and guidance on assessment and care planning, ordinary residence and safeguarding.

The Act, which forms the basis for a new statutory framework for social care in Wales, will be implemented from April 2016. Key changes introduced by the legislation include a new adult support and protection order giving professionals additional power of entry to determine whether an adult is at risk and a national outcomes framework that sets out what children and adults can expect from social services. Proposals for similar additional powers of entry for social workers in England in safeguarding cases were rejected last year.

The four consultation documents published by the Welsh government are:

Consultation on part 2 of the Act, including carers wellbeing and preventative services.

Consultation on part 3 of the Act, including the eligibility test and criteria, direct payments and care and support planning.

Consultation on part 7 of the Act, including new legislation to support adults at risk and the new adult support and protection order.

Consultation on part 11 of the Act, including ordinary residence and prisoners and young people in detention.

Following the consultation, the Welsh government intends to lay this first tranche of regulations before the Welsh Assembly in May 2015. A consultation exercise on a second set of regulations and guidance will be undertaken between May and July 2015.

Last month, the final guidance and regulations for social care reform in England under the Care Act were published by the Department of Health. The final plans for a national eligibility threshold in England marked a tightening on previous versions.

Eligibility – What the regulations say on outcomes

The outcomes to which a need must relate are—

(a) ability to carry out basic self-care or domestic routines;
(b) protection from abuse or neglect;
(c) involvement in work, education, learning or in leisure activities;
(d) maintenance or development of family or other significant personal relationships;
(e) development and maintenance of social relationships and involvement in the community;
(f) in the case of an adult, fulfilment of caring responsibilities for a child; or
(g) in the case of a child, achieving developmental goals.
(2) In this regulation “basic self-care” means essential tasks that a person carries out as part of normal daily life including—
(i) eating and drinking;
(ii) maintaining personal hygiene;
(iii) getting up and getting dressed;
(iv) moving around the home;