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A week ago the Audit Commission published its report on "Self Directed Support". It found that there was a mixed picture across Scotland about how well councils were preparing. As usual in reports of this kind, there were plenty of positive stories about how Self Directed Support is helping people make a change in their lives.
But there are plenty of other stories which paint a much bleaker picture. Yesterday LDAS spoke to the mother of John, who has severe autism and learning disabilities. He actually has a good service right now that helps him live a much better life. But it does cost a lot. The local council is now working on a reassessment programme for those who already get services. John has been given his first indicative budget for planning his care under SDS. It was a range budget of between 25% adn 50% of the cost of the current service.
His mum explained that John psychiatrist, his GP and up to last week the social worker had been happy with his current service but on this new budget he would no longer be able to use the service. Here's a snippet from the conversation.
Mum: How did you arrive at this budget for John?
Social Worker: The computer told us.
Mum: How did the computer know what was needed to meet John's needs?
Social Worker: We feed lots of very complicated things into it and then it tell us what is a fair budget.
Only now after Mum getting external help is there a prospect of this budget being changed.
There used to be an old saying in the early days of computers if the data put into a computer was wrong, then the answer it fed out would also be wrong. The computer cannot make a judgement, it only produces results. Such stories as John's rarely make it into official reports but unless they are taken seriously we are storing up problems.
If we are serious about transforming social care in Scotland we perhaps need to be a little better about thinking about real people and a little bit less obsessed with the latest computer system or spreadsheet.
A NEW film which looks at ways to help people through self-directed support had its premier at Eastwood Park Theatre, recently.
Self-directed support, in practice, means that those who are entitled to social care can receive support in a variety of ways and take as much individual control as they choose.
The film focuses on the lives of people who have benefited from this work.
Attending the screening was Scotland’s minister for public health, Michael Matheson.
He said: “Self-directed support is a priority for the Scottish government and is about ensuring that people have the opportunity to take greater control over the type of support they want.
“That way they can live a full and active life and participate fully in their community.
“The Future of Care in Scotland film shows perfectly how SDS has transformed lives. Self-directed support is at its best when it is about working with people to meet their outcomes in new and different ways.
“It is about choice and empowers individuals to make the choice that is right for them.”
Those who attended the screening indicated that they had a better understanding of self-directed support and they were able to speak to those featured in the film about their experiences of taking ownership of and changing their care.
Councillor Alan Lafferty, ERC’s convener for health and social care, said: “Self-directed support is bringing about one of the biggest changes in care we have seen in decades.
“This film shows examples of how self-directed support has made a huge difference to people enabling them to personalise their own care, and explain what support is there to help them do this.”
Recently the LDAS coordinator delivered a short presentation to the service users and carers group in South Lanarkshire on issues that need to be considered in the development of Self Directed Support by local authorities.
What the Scottish Government says
It has passed the Self Directed Support Act 2013 which
- Sets out 4 options for the provision of support which the council has a duty to offer
- Duty to offer the choices and act on the person’s choice (adults, carers and children)
- Duty to explain nature and effect of options & to signpost people to information & support
- Power to offer support to carers
New regulations will be published soon
- Specifying categories of people ineligible for Direct Payments
- Allowing easier employment of close relatives
- Stopping any of all charges for carers for any services provided through SDS.
The Act sets out some general principles. It is up to each local council to decide on details