New regulatory law in Wales focuses on accountability of senior officers
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Care home owners will become more accountable for their services under a new law designed to strengthen the protection of children and adults and improve the quality of care and support in Wales.
The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill was put before the National Assembly for Wales by health and social services minister Mark Drakeford in late February.
The Bill introduced a new model of regulation, which will allow regulators to press for improvement across one care setting site or across a provider’s entire range of services – including care homes – if deemed necessary. It will make it easier for the regulator to act where care is considered beyond repair and, if necessary, cancel the registration of those providers, services and settings which fail to implement improvements. It also includes stronger penalties for certain offences.
Mr Drakeford said the Bill rebalanced accountability in the social care system, away from just those working on the frontline to ensure employers and company owners and directors also share the responsibilities in law.
“Each service provider will be required to designate an owner or board member as a ‘responsible individual’ as part of their registration, ensuring a clear line of sight from the boardroom to the frontline,” said Mr Drakeford.
“We have learned lessons from Southern Cross, Mid Staffs, Winterbourne 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 minister said the Bill would also shift the emphasis from minimum standards to an outcomes-based approach and provides for service inspections to include an assessment of the wellbeing of the people receiving services and ensure for the first time annual reports are produced and published by all providers of social care in Wales so performance can be scrutinised and compared.
The new legislation also introduces a requirement for local authorities and Welsh ministers to consider and publish reports on the stability of the care sector, in the present and in the future, and reconstitute the Care Council for Wales as Social Care Wales, combining responsibility for workforce regulation, workforce development and service improvement within one body.