Sense of self

Written by Tom Freeman on 24 June 2014

Audit Scotland’s recent report into the progress on self-directed support (SDS) will have made uneasy reading for councillors. “Councillors and senior managers are not providing effective leadership for SDS in every council,” it warns, pointing out there are councils in Scotland who have underestimated the scale of the culture change required to empower people to have choice and control over the support they need.
The report suggests the people at the top of Scotland’s councils are not being kept informed of how SDS is progressing, despite it being enshrined in law since April.
Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “Self-directed support has the potential to transform the daily lives of thousands of people. The Scottish Government has provided £42 million to help councils and other organisations prepare for self-directed support. It needs to have a strategy to measure and report on what this spending has achieved.”
Councils have approached SDS in three different ways. Some have adopted the Resource Allocation System, which scores people based on assessed needs, and a set budget is allocated, but it is easy to see how service users might regard this as rigid and taking little account of their own preferences.
The equivalency model estimates costs and allocates budgets accordingly based on existing traditional services, which provides some consistency and means little disruption for existing service users, but any inequalities in services are not tackled, and possibly even perpetuated.
Perth and Kinross council, alone, has adopted a wholly new approach which it is calling the solution-led model. This starts with a conversation between stakeholders so that there is an agreement on what is needed from the beginning. Although this model may become unsustainable if demand increases, surely involving people from the beginning in decision-making is the entire point of SDS?
Without engaging with the very people who are supposed to be directing their own support, how can services expect them to be empowered and informed enough to do it?

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