Thousands with sight loss unaware of flagship care policy

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Charities call on the Scottish Government to raise awareness of Self-directed Support. 

4th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 1 Comment

Thousands of people with sight loss are unaware of a social care policy that could allow them to take control of their care, according to a charity.

The Scottish Government’s flagship Self-directed Support (SDS) policy enables people, carers and families to make informed choices about the way their social care is delivered.

Despite more than 50,000 people in Scotland using the service, a recent poll for the Royal Blind charity suggested almost two thirds of people with sight loss were unaware of it.

Just five of the 110 people surveyed had a support plan funded through SDS, while over 60% had never been informed of the budget available to them for their care and support. 

Royal Blind and Scottish Care are now calling on the Scottish Government to raise awareness of SDS, including through providing accessible information on the policy for people with visual impairment.

The organisations are also urging local authorities to develop plans to increase access to SDS for people with visual impairment and provide more training to staff supporting people with sight loss. 

Mark O’Donnell, chief executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded said: “Self-directed Support is a great policy initiative by the Scottish Government which could benefit thousands of people living with sight loss. That is why it is so disappointing that there appears to be low awareness of the policy among blind and partially sighted people, and also why we are backing the call by Scottish Care for more action to raise awareness that it is available.

“With the numbers of people with sight loss in Scotland set to increase significantly, it is vital they can access the specialist care they need and have access to Self-directed Support which can help them live well with visual impairment.” 

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive officer of Scottish Care, added: “Self-directed Support is one of the most progressive pieces of law in Scotland. It gives people choice and control over their care and their lives. It is therefore hugely disappointing that five years on since it started this survey shows that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of older Scots with a visual impairment are not benefiting from these rights.

“The excuses from local authorities and Integrated Joint Boards are running out and we are left with the conclusion that this human rights based policy is being consciously ignored, blocked and underfunded, or that only those who shout the loudest are being given choice and control.  

"There is little point in having fantastic legislation if there are is a collective failure to put it into practice. There is little point in having rights under the law if the obstacles to exercising those rights are growing every day. Scotland needs to get serious about the denial of the human rights of our fellow citizens with visual impairment.” 

6th November 2019 by SDS

There has already been two significant investments into promoting SDS by the Scottish Government, via a wide number of organisations. Charities providing support to people should themselves be promoting SDS to to those people. Local authorities need to be the ones taken to account