The Scottish Government’s Self-directed Support Act came into force on 1 April. The Act aims to ensure that people in need of care live fuller, more independent lives with choices over how, where and when their care is provided.
Self-directed Support uses individual budgets to allow people to design their own care packages in conjunction with their care manager, which could mean employing their own support worker, or buying services from organisations that they wish to provide their care.
Disability campaigners have longed argued for people with disabilities to be allowed the support they need to live independently and for people to have a choice over how this support is provided. While the introduction of the Act is broadly welcomed, organisations have warned that many people’s support packages are inadequate to provide real choice over their care.
In Glasgow SDS has been underway for some time, however this has not been without its attendant problems. A mother with a disabled son is taking Glasgow City Council to court over the budget awarded to her son, which she said is not nearly enough to cover his care needs, accusing Council staff of engaging in “tick box” exercises when assessing support package requirements. Unison has also expressed concern over the possibility of cuts to social care spending as a result of new approaches. There was fury among parents and service users last year when the Council announced the closure of learning disability day centres in the city, who had concerns that people with learning disabilities would become socially isolated and unable to afford to buy similar provision with their individual budgets.
Glasgow Disability Alliance is positive about the opportunities afforded by personalisation and are working with Glasgow City Council on an Independent Living Strategy for the city. They recently published a report on research they had been conducting on how to make Self-directed Support Work. My Choices, A Vision for Self Directed Support, makes a number of recommendations for a new model which could help people to achieve true choice and control, however, there are still a number of barriers to overcome and new resources and expertise will have to be put in place, which could mean a “radical restructuring of services and approaches”, with other public bodies, beyond local authorities, expected to contribute to support packages.
GCVS provides a Personal Care Administration Service to support individuals who have Self Directed Support in the form of Direct Payments, a care package, Independent Living Fund (ILF), or privately financed care.