A week ago the Audit Commission published its report on "Self Directed Support". It found that there was a mixed picture across Scotland about how well councils were preparing. As usual in reports of this kind, there were plenty of positive stories about how Self Directed Support is helping people make a change in their lives.
But there are plenty of other stories which paint a much bleaker picture. Yesterday LDAS spoke to the mother of John, who has severe autism and learning disabilities. He actually has a good service right now that helps him live a much better life. But it does cost a lot. The local council is now working on a reassessment programme for those who already get services. John has been given his first indicative budget for planning his care under SDS. It was a range budget of between 25% adn 50% of the cost of the current service.
His mum explained that John psychiatrist, his GP and up to last week the social worker had been happy with his current service but on this new budget he would no longer be able to use the service. Here's a snippet from the conversation.
Mum: How did you arrive at this budget for John?
Social Worker: The computer told us.
Mum: How did the computer know what was needed to meet John's needs?
Social Worker: We feed lots of very complicated things into it and then it tell us what is a fair budget.
Only now after Mum getting external help is there a prospect of this budget being changed.
There used to be an old saying in the early days of computers if the data put into a computer was wrong, then the answer it fed out would also be wrong. The computer cannot make a judgement, it only produces results. Such stories as John's rarely make it into official reports but unless they are taken seriously we are storing up problems.
If we are serious about transforming social care in Scotland we perhaps need to be a little better about thinking about real people and a little bit less obsessed with the latest computer system or spreadsheet.