Social care – Welsh Government assessment
There have been some welcome reforms to the policy and legal framework for social care in Wales in recent years, but there is a lack of available data about levels of unmet need for adult social care services. Satisfaction levels with the quality of care remain consistent, but evidence of an improvement in outcomes for those receiving care and support is limited. The pandemic has restricted the provision of care and raised serious concerns about the ability to keep people in care homes safe. The human rights of disabled people and older people have been disproportionately affected.
- Before the pandemic, social care services in Wales were under substantial pressure because of a large demand for local authority funded care, a squeeze on funding, and staffing shortages.
- In 2018, concerns were raised about the levels of unmet need and in 2019 it was estimated that 96% of all care in Wales was provided by unpaid carers.
- Satisfaction levels with the quality of care remained consistent: in 2018/19, 71% of people who received care or support rated it as excellent or good.
- Provisions for social care easements for adults in Wales were put in place during the pandemic, but these were not used by the Welsh Government, and the protection of the legal framework under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 remained in place.
- Nonetheless, the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the provision of social care and this has disproportionately affected disabled adults and older people with care needs.
- In July 2020, the Welsh Government stated that 460 care packages out of 23,000 had been withdrawn.
- In 2018 the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales raised ongoing concerns about the experience and rights protections of older people living in residential care homes, including the use of anti-psychotic medication, the lack of dementia training for staff, and issues with workforce planning and inspection processes.
- Care home residents were disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. There were 739 care home resident deaths with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 between March and July 2020, and care home resident deaths from any cause had increased by 66% compared with the year before.
- A number of criticisms were made about the provision of Personal Protective Equipment, testing, and shielding policies in adult social care and residential care settings during the early stages of the pandemic – these criticisms have significant human rights implications.
- The number of looked-after children in Wales has increased by 22% between 2015 and 2019.
- A national review of care homes for children in Wales in 2018/19 found that many children received good quality support but raised concerns about the growing number of children going missing from care homes.
- School closures during the pandemic withdrew vital safeguarding provision, which created additional risks for children in vulnerable situations.
- The Welsh Government did not agree to provisions allowing easements relating to social care for children in Wales.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on social care.