The purpose of this paper is to consider the background to the recent changes to adult safeguarding in Wales as a result of the new measures introduced by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and discuss their potential impact.
The paper relies on a range of material including reports published by the Law Commission, the National Assembly for Wales and other public bodies. It also refers to academic and practitioner material in journals and government guidance.
Although the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 introduced many changes in adult safeguarding in Wales, not least the duty to make enquiries, it does not take the opportunity to include statutory powers of barring and removal. The introduction of Adult Protection and Support Orders (APSOs) is a cautious step forward – perhaps it is too cautious. More research in needed on the different approaches across the UK.
At the time of publication, the full effect of the new legislation has not been seen. Local authorities and others are coming to terms with the new provisions. No data on the impact of the new legislation are yet available. The paper identifies future research evaluating the working of the different approaches to safeguarding within the UK.
For practitioners, the new legislation provides opportunities to rethink the approach to safeguarding. The lower threshold for referrals will mean an increase in caseloads and the need to react to both low- and high-risk cases. For authorised officers, the practical issues identified relate to the circumstances in which an APSO may be sought and what can be put in place to protect the adult at risk once the order has been used.
For those who experience abuse or neglect, the new legislation provides additional support when compared to the POVA process. The duty to make enquiries and the duty to report will hopefully strengthen protection and, with a lower threshold for referral, enable more preventative work to be done at an earlier stage. Whether the new APSO will make a difference remains to be seen.
As this is new legislation, there is very little analysis of the implications of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 in relation to safeguarding. This paper presents an overview and, in places, a critical analysis of the new safeguarding duties.
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