3. Information and advice
The provisions of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 aim to build on people’s strengths, capabilities and wellbeing, and help people to live independently for as long as possible. In order to do this, the Act says that people must have access to a good quality information, advice and assistance service. This may help people with dementia, carers and families to take control and make informed choices about care and support needs now and in the future.
Local authorities and local health boards do not have to provide all elements of this information and advice themselves but are expected to signpost (tell people about) or refer people to independent and impartial sources of information and advice, where necessary. The information and advice that is available should include care and support-related aspects of health, housing, benefits and employment. The information supplied must be clear and available to everyone.
Local authorities should identify people who might benefit from independent financial information and advice and help them to access it. This should include making the person aware of what financial information and advice is available about care charges and how to pay, so that people can make their own informed decisions.
Local authority staff should direct people to the financial information and advice available. Before doing so, they should establish whether the person has decision-making capacity, or if not, whether a deputy or attorney is acting on their behalf. These are people with legal rights to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia. For more information see Lasting power of attorney and Becoming a deputy for a person with dementia.
Some people who have care and support needs now, or will do in the future, may have difficulty being involved in and making decisions about their care and support. If a person lacks the ability, known as ‘mental capacity’, to make decisions, they may need someone else to make decisions on their behalf. For more see Mental Capacity Act 2005.
Often these decisions will be taken by a family member or friend, but some people may not have anyone to support them in this way. The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Code of Practice on Advocacy says that local authorities should identify these people as early as possible in the process in case an advocate is required. If a person is not able to participate fully in decisions about their care and support and has no one to help them, the local authority is responsible for providing or arranging the provision of an advocate.
Informal advocacy from family members, friends of volunteers can be a good source of support for some people with dementia. However, there will be occasions when this support is not available and formal or independent professional advocacy will be needed.