“Join us and ensure the study can have a real IMPACT” – encouraging the voices of service users and carers to be heard

Impact image - The Evaluation of the Implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act

The IMPACT study – the national evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being Act – is entering its most exciting phase to date. Between now and the end of 2021, the study team are hoping to hear from more than 200 services users and carers from across Wales to provide the team with their perspectives on the care and support they receive. The three wonderful citizen co-chairs of the Study Expert Reference Group – Ana Stockton, Karen Berrell and Margaret Provis – have written the following blog to encourage those whose lives are affected on a daily basis by social care in Wales to get involved. For more information of how to have your say, watch our recruitment film.

 “Join us and ensure the study can have a real IMPACT”

As the passing of the new legislation rolled out from Welsh Government it raised many questions and uncertainties for citizens using services and carers – not least what was the Social Services and Wellbeing Act Wales 2014 going to change? What would this mean for people across Wales, for families, for individuals receiving care for young people and for older people? As with everything in the world of policy and statutory services, the cogs of change move slowly and as the relative parts of the Act began to emerge in the public world, in people’s lives and homes a clearer picture of its intention started to form.

As the Act began to transform the statutory landscape throughout Wales it began to reach beyond a diagnosis of an individual needing care and support being bold enough to be asking “what matters” to the person at the centre of care – it also recognized for the first time in legislation that carers had their own set of needs and rights, and introduced coproduction, challenging services to hear the voice of the citizen and embed this at each step of service design and delivery. However, the magic is held in the fact that Welsh Government were being so bold as to embed evaluation into the very core of the Act, effectively bringing the system, the professionals and decision makers into accountability giving a surety to an honest and intentional piece of legislation to be the best it can be for the people who need it.

It was important to the study team to uphold these principles of coproduction by ensuring the study was led by citizens and carers and as a small team that co-chair the study group we come from across a varied background, we each have a different relationship and perspective of how this legislation affects our day to day lives. Within our role as co-chairs we have had the opportunity to lead the team through a number of engagements through last year’s section of field study, which during 2021 will see the focus for the study team at IMPACT gathering the experiences of service users and carers.

It’s even more so important during this part of the study to engage with voices and stories across Wales – to reach out and get a real picture for how the act is working in homes and communities across the country. As the effects of Covid have impacted our normal ways of practice, it’s been useful to challenge the team to be innovative in ways that they connect with communities by taking the conversation away from traditional methods of research to where people are and where conversations would be.  As co-chairs we know the study will only be as good as the evidence it gathers. Now is the time to ensure that evidence includes voices and stories from people across Wales with first-hand experience of services. Join us and ensure this study can have a real IMPACT.

Ana Stockton, Karen Berrell and Margaret Provis