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|05 May 2017|
Forth Valley Stronger Together
In our last newsletter we published a report on official government statistics published in November 2015 which showed that there had been slow progress with Direct Payments despite all the effort with the introduction of Self Directed Support. We said in the article that we couldn’t be sure until further statistics were published in 2016.
This additional information should have more on the other options included in Self Directed Support and allow everyone to make a better judgement on what has been happening- although the Scottish Government has already said that this information will be partial and will be published as “Data Under Development”. However Falkirk Council has contacted us to express their concern that these figures do not accurately reflect their work.
They have 24 people who are recorded as SDS Option 4 (mixed support options.) which if added to the 40 recorded in the Scottish Government statistics would mean that they had increased the number of Direct Payments users in 2014-15 to 64, an increase of 4 rather than a fall of 20. Other councils may be in a similar position.
The changed position for Falkirk is made clear in the chart below. The total number of Direct Payment recipients has increased in total by four in the last year. However it is also true that the total number of Direct Payment recipients in Falkirk has increased in total by only 4 since 2005. Overall hardly much of a change. In fact, if Falkirk had been following the national trend of 10% increase in Direct Payments year on year before SDS, there should have been 66 people on Direct Payments and not 64!
Source: Scottish Government Social Care Statistics 2015
Falkirk does have a very innovative Short Breaks service that really helps people make the most of respite opportunities. This is the kind of project that many other councils should develop to make the most of Individual Service Funds.
However the point of our article in December was to demonstrate that despite the large amounts of investment (Falkirk alone received £1.43 million from 2012 to 2014) and the new law and plenty of guidance, the landscape of choice for people who need support has not been radically changed. As we said in December “So far, the jury is still out on SDS and we will look forward to the publication of more detailed SDS information [later this] year.”
For the last 5 years campaigners have been fighting against the closure of the Independent Living Fund. Disabled people were worried that ILF monies would be swallowed up by local councils who would reduce services or just count the ILF monies as part of their own income.
In Scotland, it was thought the campaign was won with the launch of a new Scottish Independent Living Fund in May of this year.
But this information from Glasgow indicates that at least one council is treating SILF funds as income to meet needs the council would normally fund.
As a result individuals are losing control over money that the Scottish Government says should be theirs to spend on their care as they want.
We need clearer rules about how local authorities treat SILF monies.
People with learning disabilities die on average 20 years earlier than the people that live around them irrespective of wealth, earning or geographical location.
Some of this is due to nearly 7 out of every 10 people with learning disabilities having other health conditions. The link of Downs Syndrome to early onset dementia and heart problems is well known. Less well known is the occurence of a physical disability, mental health conditions or long term illnesses in other people with learning disabilities.
Some of the things that would make people healthier are well known. More exercise and healthy diets. Easy to say but much harder to do.
Recent research into the Scottish Government’s “Walk Well” programme found that there was no lasting change for people with learning disabilities through using it. This was a 12 week programme that introduced people to walking in a structured way but when people with learning disabilities finished the course, they rarely had support workers in place who had the time to help them continue the walking programme.
People with learning disabilities have spoken about how they find “good food” to be more expensive and when they do try and buy cheaper natural ingredients it is hard for them to prepare cooked meals using these.
But health care is about much more than this, it is about the help from doctors, hospitals and NHS ‘24. In our last newsletter we wrote about Stephen Armstrong’s treatment in hospital. Many things went wrong for Stephen even though he had the support that people thought he needed.
Many people feel they have great treatment from the NHS. The nurses and doctors are nice and speak to them respectfully. There are health passports, both in booklet form and electronically. There are special nurses that are trained to help people with learning disabilities available all over Scotland.
But as Robert Burns once said, “facts are chiels that winna ding and downa be disputed.” Facts are stubborn. People with learning disabilities die earlier than the rest of the population, their health needs are often diagnosed late and many people have poor lifestyles.
So what’s going wrong? To be honest no one is really sure. We need you to tell us what is right and wrong for you or the people you support. We will find out what is happening all over Scotland and put the answers together to help make better plans for the future.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has produced a new guide to what Health and Social Care Integration might mean for people with learning disabilities. It uses a combination of Easy Read information and photo stories including the "Carry On" films to help explain what the benefits of working together are. This will still take some time to work through but it is a fun way of exploring a challenging subject.
However this is not a study of what is actually happening on the ground with local authority and health board plans. Further research on this will be available at a later date.
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