Research identifies gap between people’s expectations and their experiences of social services in Wales


Those people in Wales who depend on social services should be able to expect support when and where it is needed, and not have to fight to be heard.

That’s one of the key findings of the national evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 led by researchers at the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care (WIHSC), which is based at the University of South Wales (USW), working in partnership with Professor Fiona Verity of Swansea University and colleagues, and others from Cardiff Metropolitan and Bangor Universities.

The report provides findings from 170 people living in Wales who receive care and support or who are carers and is part of a wider evaluation of the Act, known as the IMPACT study.

Although some of the survey findings are positive – a number of respondents said they felt more noticed by professionals since the Act, and had a better relationship with their social worker – the survey did find a number of issues that need addressing.

Some responses highlighted individuals’ feelings of not being listened to, with them reporting they had to chase and fight for support, and often felt they were ignored unless they were facing a crisis. The report also highlighted individuals’ concerns about not being included in discussions and decisions about their support, being unsure about their rights under the Act, and difficulties receiving support in the Welsh language. Overall, people felt that their experiences under the Act had not met their expectations of what they hoped it would do.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of WIHSC and study lead, said the evaluation had raised important issues around the Act and would give the Welsh Government and social services professionals a yardstick against which improvements can be measured.

“The study has highlighted a gap that exists between people’s expectations of social services and well-being support, and how their experiences fall short of those expectations,” Professor Llewellyn said.

“The IMPACT study is now close to its conclusion, and in the next six months we will draw on all of the evidence gathered, and work together to find ways to bridge the gap between the expectations the Act offered and the lived experience of those who feel their expectations have not been met.”