The Future Of Social Care In Wales
Creating a National Care Service for Wales was a Manifesto commitment for both Wales Labour and Plaid Cymru at the last Welsh Parliament Elections. Following the publication of a Report by an Expert Group [Establishing a national care and support service | GOV.WALES], Cymru Older People’s Alliance have been taking action to influence the shape of the national consultation promised on this issue later this year.
In a letter to the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care [attached here] COPA have welcomed a majority of the recommendations but made clear our expectations about the future of social care in Wales:
- The reform of paying for care arrangements should be a priority. There has already been a 2-decade delay by successive governments “kicking the can down the road” and further delay would be a betrayal of older people;
- The suggested time scale of 10 years for implementation is far too long to be credible for Older People;
- Creating a National Care Service will require a fundamental change in how Social Care in Wales is funded and delivered. Honesty is needed now about how additional money will be found for these reforms and how it will be paid for;
- Clarity is needed on what is meant by “Free Care at the Point of Need”; Transparency is essential before consultation commences and in particular whether older people self-funding their care can benefit or just those assessed by the Councils;
- What will the role and powers be for a National Care Service and how will it improve services if, as suggested, Local Authorities remain accountable for delivery of social care?;
- We know the continuing increasing numbers in the over 65s and particularly over 80s groups will mean increased demand for ever more complex care. The needs of older people need to be given more prominence in this debate.
The response from Welsh Government [attached here] thanked COPA for our comments which will help to inform future deliberations. It said, “A further statement will be made in the next few months once Ministers and the Plaid Cymru Designated Member have determined next steps”.
Social Care is a very important service that many older people and their families rely on and where we want to see urgent improvements, particularly in access and availability.
A key requirement is that older people are engaged from the outset of these fundamental changes to social care and not by a process that sees us as passive recipients or involves us after key decisions have already been made.
We will work with other organisations representing older people to ensure our voice is heard loudly and clearly in this essential debate.