National Assembly for Wales / Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru
Health and Social Care Committee/ Y Pwyllgor Iechyd a Gofal Cymdeithasol


Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill / Bil Rheoleiddio ac Arolygu Gofal Cymdeithasol (Cymru)

Evidence from Multiple Sclerosis Society Wales – RISC 33 / Tystiolaeth gan Multiple Sclerosis Society Cymru – RISC 33









A response from the Multiple Sclerosis Society Cymru


About Multiple Sclerosis and the MS Society

Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological disorder affecting young people in the UK with more than 85,000 affected by the condition. We estimate that over 3,800 people are affected in Wales. It is a disease of the central nervous system. MS is unpredictable and can cause a wide variety of symptoms such as loss of mobility, pain, fatigue, vision problems, numbness, loss of balance, depression and cognitive problems. The disease may progress steadily or involve periods of active disease followed by periods of remission.


The MS Society is the UK-wide charity dedicated to supporting people who have MS, as well as providing help to those people’s families, friends, carers and colleagues. A significant number of our trustees, staff and volunteers either have MS or a personal connection with MS.


The Society provides care and support through services which include a national information and helpline service, publications, a website that receives more than 40,000 visitors each month, welfare grants, funding research, funding MS specialist nurses and delivering respite care. 


We are a democratic organisation with over 44,000 members. Our network of 340 branches delivers local services to people with MS across the UK.




1.0       MS Society Cymru is very supportive of the Welsh Government’s proposals to regulate the social care workforce in Wales. Hundreds of thousands of people receive some form of social care performed by workers with very little formal training caused by a system where competing care companies seek to undercut rival companies with lower overheads and cheaper staff. This has led to the development of an unmanaged social care market consisting of social care services which are unsustainable and unable to deliver high quality care.


1.1       The current system, where the most vulnerable in society can be cared for by people with little or no training, needs to end. People living with MS who use care agencies often complain of a “conveyor belt” of care staff, where it is rare to see the same person more than once, and where often staff have taken the job, whilst they look for other opportunities. The MS Society conducted a series of focus groups with people with MS, and continuity of care was an issue consistently raised. People with MS told us:


‘I mainly have the same carers but sometimes they introduce new ones – I need more notice of this change. You are letting people into your home.’


‘If you need care then the last thing you want is to be telling people how to care for you every day.’ Many people with MS are not given the opportunity to build any sort of relationship between themselves and the staff commissioned to provide their care.


1.2       MS Society Cymru surveyed its members to ask what measures they thought would help to protect adults in care as part of formulating the response to this consultation. 75% of people surveyed thought that better training for social care staff was the number one priority, 32% thought that more social care staff were needed and only 27% thought that new structures and institutions were needed×. Training and education is therefore a top priority for people living with MS.


As a result we strongly welcome that the Bill states that Social Care Wales may make rules requiring registered persons (‘social care workers’) to undertake further training and continued professional development.[1] However we would like to add that we would welcome the Bill to include the role that voluntary and community sector organisations can play in continued professional development. 


1.3       We welcome that Bill aims to reform the regulatory regime for care and support services to include a new service based model of regulation, provisions to monitor the operation of the care market, provisions to improve public engagement, and powers to introduce inspection quality ratings.[2] The registration and greater professionalisation of this sector would have a positive effect on the standards of care received. For example we would hope that that greater inspection would for example end inappropriately short homecare visit commissioned by services providers.  Greater regulation will also ensure that services providers work to develop high quality and sustainable services.


However, it is likely that this will have a  negative impact on costs. The process of undercutting solely on price would not be possible if staff had to meet standards and be fully trained, and it would be likely that both administrative costs and wages would rise. In fact the Regulatory Impact Assessment sets out that cost over the first five years of the Bill will be around £9 million, this includes transitional costs of £3.3 million, with a part of this cost failing on service providers.[3] We strongly advocate that all is done to ensure that this extra cost is not passed onto the service users. This added cost would be inappropriate and would act as an added barrier to accessing high quality social care services.


1.4       We agree that the Bill will bring about significant benefitsif working conditions, wages and work satisfaction increase due to professionalisation, then there is a greater chance that people will proactively choose to become personal assistants as a long term career. This would improve the continuity of care that is often lacking and allow personal assistants to build up knowledge and experience of certain conditions and individuals, which would further improve the service user experience.


1.5       We would welcome the Bill advocating ways that social care professionals can share skills and knowledge developed. We would also welcome the Bill setting out a commitment to ensure that social care workers are able to benefit from the skills and knowledge of voluntary and community sector organisations. For example, through encouraging voluntary sector organisations and service providers to develop networks in which training and information on common conditions, common care needs, common support needs could be easily shared.


1.6       Finally MS Society Cymru hopes that the professionalisation of the social care workforce will have a positive effect on the working conditions of personal assistants and afford them with appropriate protection.


As part of the social care constitution for Wales MS Society Cymru and Leonard Cheshire proposed a series of responsibilities that service users had to their personal assistants as well as responsibilities that social care staff has to the service user.


The responsibilities to social care proposed were:










Whilst the responsibilities of social care staff proposed were:














MS Society Cymru would like the Welsh Government to consider these rights and responsibilities when consulting on regulations under this section.


× Respondents were allowed to vote for multiple options

[1] National Assembly for Wales (2015) Bill Summary The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Bill. Available at p.11

[2] Ibid., p.4

[3] Ibid., p.15-16

[4] Leonard Cheshire Disability and MS Society Cymru (2010) ‘A social care constitution for Wales,’ p14-15

[5] Leonard Cheshire Disability and MS Society Cymru (2010) ‘A social care constitution for Wales,’ p18-19