Social welfare service emergency licences

In testing times when everyone is ‘mobilising’ to do their part to battle COVID-19, our legislator has taken cognisance of those who are willing and already equipped to provide certain care services to start doing so legally.

The Social Care Standards authority is now in a position to grant an emergency licence in exceptional circumstances in order to provide a social welfare service; that is, a care service, provided in relation to the well-being of service users, whether by a person, agency or residential facility, or in the community or in a care and nursing home or in the home. Such emergency licences may be subject to conditions as deemed necessary by the said authority. Indeed, the applicable regulations do not explicitly state that the service must be provided in full compliance with other social welfare service legislation presumably leaving it to the Authority to determine the applicable conditions to each ‘emergency’ provider in the emergency licence itself.

The licence will only be issued for a maximum period of 6 months renewable for a further period of 6 months and can be withdrawn at any time in the event that exceptional circumstances exist or for any other reason deemed necessary at the discretion of the Authority’s CEO.

Clearly our legislator is conscious of the fact that the current social welfare service providers may be debilitated because of overload or understaffing and has taken cognisance that there may be other individuals in society who are equipped to step in should this occur. Those who are, e.g. retired professionals with premises and capacity, should consider this as a potentially useful framework within which to operate and give a helping hand responsibly.