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Wales' new Social Services bill: 'Reablement' for service users and carers

Wales' new Social Services bill: 'Reablement' for service users and carers

Wales' new change to health and social care policy sees a focus on reablement; sorting out simple assistance for those in need.

The newest incarnation of the Welsh social services and wellbeing bill introduces a focus on “reablement”; short-term support available to those coming out of hospital, nursing homes, care or other health care provision designed to get individuals back up to speed with their self-care skills. The bill not only makes provision for this service but enshrines a duty to provide this service and support carers too. Pleasingly, they are designing a national eligibility criteria level rather than the hated postcode lottery that ensues when local councils control eligibility.

The concept of reablement is a proactive one; with the right level of help, it should reduce how much care is needed, the level of care they do receive and also the impact of their disabilities. Beyond these concrete benefits, this will undoubtedly be a boon to service users’ psychology as they get a chance to flex some autonomy and take control over their lives. Carers also will get the opportunity to find ways to make time for their needs too.

The bill will achieve this by mandating councils to assess individuals’ needs and discern how well local services can achieve these goals. Both local and health authorities will also be required to work together which should (hopefully) cut down on uncertainty, vacillation and red tape.

However, fuzziness surrounding eligibility criteria does mean that some less positive scenarios could occur. Ruth Crowder of the Welsh Reablement Alliance noted that someone using reablement as a preventative measure may receive help for free but someone with long-term disability could be charged. As studies clearly note the prevalence of disability amongst those with poorer life chances and lower socio-economic status, Crowder’s scenario highlights a fundamental potential flaw.

We’ll keep every appendage crossed that the Welsh Government and their relevant departments will make considered, informed and flexible decisions to help this bill settle into an everyday part of the Welsh healthcare culture – it sounds like a great step in the right direction.

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