Section 18 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (the 2014 Act) requires local authorities to establish and maintain a register of people who are ordinarily resident in the local authority's area and who are sight-impaired, hearing-impaired or who suffer from sight and hearing impairments which, in combination, have a significant effect on their day to day lives. This requirement replaces the requirement in section 29(4)(g) of the National Assistance Act 1948.
The section does not provide definitions for “sight impairment”, “severe sight impairment”, “hearing impairment” or “severe hearing impairment”. However, there is a power to make regulations to describe what these terms mean for the purposes of the local authority's obligation to establish and maintain a register so that clinical staff and local authorities have a shared understanding of the terminology.
Local authorities are required to establish and maintain a register of children who are in their area and who are either disabled or who have a physical or mental impairment which may result in needs for social care services. This obligation replaces the requirement in paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989.
Local authorities also have the power to establish and maintain registers of adults who are disabled and adults who are not disabled but, have a physical or mental impairment or otherwise have needs which the local authority considers may lead to a requirement for care and support in the future.
For the purposes of section 18, a person is “disabled” if the person has a disability for the purpose of the Equality Act 2010. Regulations under section 3(6) can provide that a person falling within a specified category is or is not to be treated as disabled for the purposes of the 2014 Act.
Such registers will assist a local authority in assessing future needs for care and support within its area by identifying persons who may be suffering from a degenerative condition who, whilst they may not need local authority assistance at the present time, may well do so in the future as their condition deteriorates.
Local authorities are not required to include any person in a register unless that person has applied to be included in it or an application to be included has been made on their behalf. A local authority must inform a person that they have been included in a register and, if requested by the person, or someone acting on their behalf, they must remove any personal data relating to that person (although they may retain the anonymised data).