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Equal Access to Self Directed Support for Carers

Note: The following blog post has been contributed by Florence Burke, Director of Scotland.

Going to bed at 9 pm and waking up at 11:30 am…

For many carers, the idea of sleeping that long sounds like a dream come true. Fourteen hours of solid, health-restoring sleep with the only interruption being a quick trip to the loo, instead of frequent awakenings to care for someone.

On this occasion, though the person going to bed at 9pm wasn’t going there through choice. He’s paralysed from the chest down and the agency workers looking after him could only come to put him to bed at 9pm. The next day, 11.30am was the first available slot to get them out of bed. But self-directed support has now transformed his life through employing a personal assistant who works around his needs and wishes. Flexibility of choice is what service users want from self-directed support, but what about their carers? Don’t they deserve flexibility too?

The Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee publishes its response to stage one of the Social Care (Self Directed Support or SDS) (Scotland) Bill this week (6 July) at The Princess Royal Trust Glasgow South East Carers Centre, one of our Network Partners. The publication of this report follows wide-spread consultation with carers to find out what they think.

We’ve been working closely with carers and carers’ centres in Dundee and Dumfries & Galloway and across Scotland to highlight where carers and their needs fit into the bill. We’ve fed back to the Health & Sport Committee and said:

SDS must not be put in place alongside cuts – local authorities need to take full account of the cost of supporting people with carer needs AND their carers.

Assessments need to have a goal of improving lives for the person being cared for and their carer – they must take both persons’ situations into account.

Training should be provided to carers so that they can understand SDS and what is on offer. Carer workers at present receive training – unpaid carers do not. This means they are not equal partners in care, a phrase often bandied about as a goal statutory services should acknowledge.

Information, information, information… Carers need access to the right information about SDS and what options are available so that they can make the choices that will suit them best.

Finally, carers feel is grossly unfair to make SDS for carers subject to financial assessments. SDS can help carers continue to care – and unpaid carers ultimately save the public purse more than £10 billion in Scotland. So why should they charged for support that can help them take breaks, prevent their own ill-health and allow them to continue caring?

We and carers feel that offering SDS to carers should be a duty on local authorities and not a power. We don’t want a Scotland where some carers have no problems accessing SDS and others fight battles for it. It’s great that carers and the specialist support provided by carers’ centres is being acknowledged at the launch of the report but equal partners in care, continues to be our aim – let’s make that the reality.

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July 3, 2012 - Posted by | Carers movement, Scotland | , , , , , , ,

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