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Thousands of care users to get more control of their lives from today

1st April 2014

Self-directed Support Act - Scotland Health and Community Care.

New legislation that will radically alter the shape of social care in Scotland comes into force today (1 April 2014).

The Self-directed Support Act places duties on local authorities in Scotland to offer people who are assessed as needing social care the option of designing their own care package.

This could mean receiving a direct payment which they can use, for example, to employ their own support workers. They might choose to have the council hold the funds, while the individual decides how it is spent. Finally, they could opt for the council to arrange the support package for them. They can also choose a mix of all three options.

Around 100,000 people in Scotland are assessed for care in Scotland every year. Previously, only a relatively small number have been offered the chance to self-direct their own support. The Act gives everyone assessed as needing support the right to have these options.

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health, will launch the Act and meet service users in Edinburgh today.

Mr Matheson said: “The Self-directed Support Act is about empowering people to be able to take control of their own lives. Having a care package designed by someone else works for some people, but not others. We want to give everyone the ability to choose care that works for them.

“Direct payments have been around for a number of years, but although some care users have benefited from it, it’s never quite become a mainstream option. This Act is about shifting up through the gears and making Self-directed Support a choice which anyone can have.

“Of course, not everyone will want, or feel able to design their own care. They can continue to have their package arranged if that’s what’s best for them. Others might feel a little overwhelmed by the new options open to them, so we’ve made sure there are a range of support options available for people to help them make the best decisions.”

To accompany the Act, the Minister also launched a suite of guidance, including best practice guidance for users, carers and practitioners.

The Scottish Government has invested in a number of organisations and projects nationally to build the capacity of independent support and information which will help to support individuals to make choices using Self-directed Support.

Today’s launch event is being arranged by Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCiL), which has been supporting disabled people across Lothian for 20 years, and helps people to access Self-directed Support options.

Background

An individual can get access to Self-directed Support, including direct payments, if they have an assessed social care need. The only exception to this is if a local authority is providing support to individuals in the form of residential accommodation, in which case direct payments cannot be offered. There are specific safeguards in place to ensure direct payments are used appropriately.

Case study

Suselle Boffey, of Edinburgh, is disabled and has been receiving direct payments for a number of years. She uses them to employ her own personal support workers.

Suselle said: “I'm not saying this is the silver bullet that’s going to overcome all barriers, but it’s a step in the right direction. It offers professionals like social workers a new perspective of assessing the person they are working with and looking at using resources available in communities much more creatively and effectively.

“The biggest factor for making it right is maintaining clear communication for everyone involved. I’ve learned that for me to have choice and control over my life people have to be honest and open, and not afraid to ask questions. Whether you’re on the receiving end of services or delivering them people must be informed of options available and not afraid to learn from each other.

“My life now embodies the disability mantra: choice and control.

“I can choose when to wash my hair, when to go shopping, whether or not to go to the cinema or theatre or visit friends. I can go on holiday. These are activities which most non-disabled people take for granted.

“I can now more easily be a daughter to my Mum, now in a care home – I visit her weekly and take care of all her paperwork and finances. I am able to volunteer to take positions of trust within organisations I support, also in my church, in the knowledge that a personal assistant is always on hand.”

For Highland Council Direct Payments see -
http://www.highland.gov.uk/healthandsocialcare/sds/10whataredirectpayments.htm

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