The Scottish government has launched a draft ten-year strategy it hopes will lead to personalised, “self-directed” services becoming the “mainstream” way for disabled people to access the social care support they need.
The draft strategy on self-directed support says those who use care and support services should be seen “as equal citizens with rights and responsibilities”.
The strategy aims to address barriers to greater take-up of direct payments, including “assumptions and attitudes” about those who might benefit, limitations on the use of the money they are given, and “a vested interest in the status quo” by some professionals.
The document says there is “significant scope” to increase the number of people receiving direct payments, which should be “available to all but imposed on no-one”.
But it warns that guidance on eligibility for free personal care in Scotland found evidence of reduced services to those with lower-level needs, and suggests a review of the use of eligibility criteria.
The Scottish government will also work with social care and health training and qualification bodies to integrate teaching of self-directed support into their courses, according to the strategy.
And it will meet with Department for Work and Pensions officials to find ways to fit the strategy and the benefits system together.
It will also discuss how to include disabled students’ allowance and other education funds in self-directed support packages.
The Scottish government will consult this year on the need for a self-directed support bill to “address some of the gaps in eligibility”.
The draft strategy says that by 2015 there should be a better quality of life for individuals, a “radical increase” in uptake of self-directed support, and a shift away from more traditional services.
Jim Elder-Woodward, convenor of Independent Living in Scotland (ILiS), an organisation of disabled people set up to develop the independent living movement in Scotland, said it was too early to give a “definitive” response.
But he said he was “hopeful” the movement would welcome the proposals, such as making self-directed support “the default position within social care provision”.
And he said there was a “great need” to make the principles and practices of independent living – and not just self-directed care – a fundamental part of education in social administration and social work.
ILiS will host a conference on 5 March to help it and other disabled people’s organisations prepare their responses to the draft strategy.
A consultation on the strategy lasts until 7 May. For more information, visit: www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations
10 February 2010