Self-directed support ‘needs review’ as take-up remains ‘woefully low’
Public Audit Committee hears social workers are not offering full choice to disabled people entitled to SDS
SDS Jess Wade - Scottish Parliament
Only a quarter of disabled people entitled to control their own support are doing so, MSPs have been told.
In evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee, third sector organisations said the majority of service users are not even being given an option by their social workers.
The committee’s enquiry follows reports by Audit Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance which show provision of Self-Directed Support (SDS), which was designed to give people greater control of the services they need, is inconsistent and under-used across Scotland.
SDS was introduced in 2013 to empower people to purchase or arrange the health and care services they need, but the ALLIANCE has called for the system to be reviewed after research showed a lack of understanding in the different options, with only 27 per cent in control of their options.
Iain Smith, policy and parliamentary officer at Inclusion Scotland, told MSPs take-up was “woefully low”.
“You can’t empower people if you don’t give them the information they need to be empowered.”
“Too often a social worker is making an assumption about what option is right for an individual, rather than the individual making that choice themselves.”
Jess Wade, manager at Self-Directed Support Scotland, said: “We get a lot from our members that they only knew about it because they heard it from someone they knew, or something like that.”
Wade said a separate body to oversee SDS in every local authority was needed.
“We’d like to see something run by disabled people. Service users, who know their stuff,” she said.
The Scottish Government, she added, could offer "greater leadership and direction" to local authorities on the matter.
After the session, the acting convener of the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee, Jackie Baillie, said: “We heard today that some people are “overwhelmed and intimidated” by the process around Self Directed Support and that there are inconsistencies in how the system works across Scotland.
“It’s understandably frustrating for people if they are deprived of having a say on the social care they receive.
“Our Committee will soon hear from the Scottish Government and COSLA to ask about these concerns and how the barriers to accessing potentially life-changing support can be removed."
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