Scots still not being given control over care options

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An update on projects which are working to implement Self Directed Support has shown that the project is continuing to stall

13th March 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Many Scots are still not being given control over the type of care they receive.

Projects working to implement Self Directed Support (SDS) across Scotland have reported that there is little evidence of people being given choice over how their social care budgets are used.

However the majority of people that have benefitted from Support in the Right Direction (SiRD) projects have said the changes have made a big difference to their lives.

SDS was introduced seven years ago to empower people to purchase or arrange the health and care services they need, however the rollout has stalled nationally.

Self Directed Support’s four options range from direct payments that enable the service user to purchase their own support to a package of support being provided directly by their local authority.

An independent report into the SiRD fund, which has been a major part of the Scottish Government’s investment since 2011 to facilitate the transition to Self Directed Support, showed that many projects across the country are failing to hit their targets to help people have more control over their care.

Many of the services have reported issues with eligibility for those receiving care, and assumptions were made about how the rollout would progress.

The report states: “Projects and service users expressed concerns about the impact of local eligibility criteria on whether people are being assessed as eligible for a funded package of support.

“A number of the projects had made initial assumptions, at the funding application stage, about progress in embedding Self Directed Support as the norm for social care in the local authorities in which they were planning to work.”

Particularly affected were those with mental health issues; people on the autistic spectrum; clients of community justice services; and those who had experienced homelessness.

The independent report’s findings echo those of an Audit Scotland report which was released last summer and showed that only just over a quarter of Scots entitled to SDS are receiving it.

However the recent report also highlights that those that have been able to exercise greater control over their care had found it to be a positive experience.

“Almost without exception, service users were very positive about the quality of support that they received from projects,” the report said.

“When asked how they felt about the information and support they had received, more than eight out of 10 survey respondents said it had made an enormous or big difference.”

The SIRD funding programme began in 2012, with 42 organisations funded during the first three-year phase. A second round of three-year funding began in April 2015 and the new Support in the Right Direction 2021 (SiRD2021) fund launched last month.

Over its six-year period, £12.7 million has been given to third sector organisations through the fund.

A national event on Self Directed Support, SDS National Voice, takes place tomorrow (Thursday) and will examine the work going on to implement the system.

Jess Wade, manager of Self Directed Support Scotland, said that although there is more to be done to implement the changes, partnership work is taking place to ensure people receive positive care.

She said: “It is easy to feel defeated by the sheer scale of the task, and colleagues I speak to throughout the sector - in independent support organisations, the wider third sector, social work departments and beyond - often tell me they didn’t realise just how long this change was going to take. Neither did I.

“What I do know, right now, is that although we may not be as far on as we’d have hoped, there is still plenty to be excited about in the world of SDS. “

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The external review into the support services we fund reported that most people were able to access support quickly and easily; and that service users were almost universally very positive about the quality of the support. It also found that without help from SIRD projects some clients would have given up on their application.

“We are using the findings from this report to develop our support provision going forward.”