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|27 Sep 2016|
Dundee Stronger Together
After 10 years our Coordinator, Ian Hood, is leaving.
Starting soon as Coordinator is Donna Nicholson.
Donna was formerly a journalist in the papers and on radio. Over the last 10 years, she ran a big campaigning organisation and has a lot of further experience in the 3rd sector. You’ll be hearing a lot from Donna and the rest of LDAS over the next few months.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government promised that all social care workers would get at least the Living Wage, currently at £8.25 per hour.
Social care providers have been badly squeezed over the last few years with frozen budgets and unrealistic tenders from councils. Staff wages have been the main victim and in many areas retail workers are paid more than care workers.
Now with only a few weeks to go till the deadline, Scottish Care and CCPS are reporting that many councils have not put funding plans in place yet
Some councils have made reasonable efforts to resolve the matter. Aberdeen City, which has long had a problem recruiting social care worker due to the high wages on offer elsewhere has offered a rise of 6.4% on all contracts.
Many social care providers already pay more than the living wage and the question of how to support those who have always valued their staff has challenged local authorities.
Falkirk has raised the price for all hourly contracts to £16.50 which they think will allow providers to pay the Living Wage. For those who were higher than this, there is only a 50p an hour increase.
Glasgow demonstrates the difference between Care Homes and Care At Home services. Care Homes are covered by a National Contract so Glasgow is increasing its offer for this by 6.5%. Its offer to Care at Home providers is only 3.1%.
North Lanarkshire has not stated what it is going to do but it has increased wages of ”in house” staff to £12.17 per hour at a cost of £5.4 million because of “equal pay” legislation. It’s a shame such rules only applies to council staff.
Part of what drives the reluctance to meet the full cost of the Living Wage, is that any savings can be used by councils for other purposes. East Lothian is planning to put its “saving” of twice the cost of the Living Wage into more Care At Home Hours.
In another development, Glasgow is giving some providers an opportunity to be more flexible in their “Proof of Concept” scheme. They will no longer count hours of support so providers can spend more on wages as long as services users still get good outcomes. Of course, there is still a sting in the tail, with the council expecting this scheme to deliver 5% budget savings!
In total, there are about 280 people with learning disabilities in NHS Learning Disability units at some point during the year. Many are placed there due to Compulsory Treatment Orders (CTOs). They can end up staying for up to 9 years, long after they should have moved back to the community.
Earlier this year the Mental Welfare Commission found that at least one third were ready to live in the community but there is no place for them to go. The worst was in NHS Lothian, 46% are in hospital when they no longer need to be.
Where compulsion is used people with learning disabilities have it tough, spending an average of 4 years detained in hospital. For people without learning disabilities it was less than 2 years.
And it is happening to more. Between 2006 and 2012, there was a 39% increase in the number of people with learning disabilities subject to compulsory measures In comparison, in the same period, there was just a 7% increase in the use of compulsion for people without learning disabilities.
Mental Health Tribunals are meant to provide scrutiny so people are not treated unfairly. But of 1,378 application for CTOs in the first 8 months of this year, only 1.8% (24) were rejected. Once you are in it is easier to keep you in. Of 289 applications to extend a CTO only 2 were rejected.
Sometimes the threat of a CTO is enough. For nine years Daniel Young from Dundee lived in his own house with 24 hour support from a care team. He was happy and enjoying life. However in 2014 things started to go wrong. Daniel reported feeling insecure and unsafe in his home, resulting in verbal aggression towards staff and physical harm towards himself. Staff responses, in effect, punishing Daniel, helped to escalate his concerns and behaviour, until there was a “breakdown” in care provision in January 2015.
Rather than deal with his care, I as his Welfare Guardian, was only given the choice of medicating Daniel at home or admitting him to a NHS assessment unit. If I didn’t choose one, then a CTO would be used.
In order that Daniel had a place of safety, I chose the NHS Unit while we tried to find a more suitable care provider. Things haven’t gone well for Daniel in the last year. He has become depressed and withdrawn; a stark contrast to the articulate and humorous young man two years ago. And 18 months on, no suitable residential placements have been identified for him. His mental health continues to deteriorate so significantly that he may not be fit for discharge by the time a home is found for him.
There is a lack of adequate care and support for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The growing use of CTOs indicate that mental health services are being used to respond to what is in many cases an issue of inadequate provision of support.
Mental health services not should serve as a buffer for lack of social housing and adequate community services. Two things that might help change this are:
The Scottish Government’s review of the Mental Health Act in relation to people with learning disabilities and autism might help by providing new rights to services and support. But the review proper won’t start until April 2017 and any resulting legislation is likely not to be implemented until well into the 2020s.
Over the summer the launch of the “Shared Ambition for Social Care” aimed at rethinking the whole approach to the funding of social care in Scotland. We do need a different approach that can tackle all the problems that we face from low wages to inadequate services otherwise people like my brother, Daniel will remain trapped and lost in the wrong place.
By Ian Hood & Hannah Young
Hiba Al Sharfa has become the Gaza Strip’s first teacher with Down’s Syndrome, after a lifelong effort to achieve the dream.
Al Sharfa teaches at Right to Live, an NGO based in the Gaza Strip that supports and cares for children with Down’s Syndrome. It works to help educate and support children with the learning disabilities with the aim of helping them integrate into mainstream society.
Other members of staff say Al Sharfa is close to her students and able to better meet their needs because she understands their experiences having lived through similar struggles herself. More than 400 children are educated at the Right to Live Centre, who participate in classes including dance, crafts, and life skills.
Nabil Aljaneed, director of rehabilitation at the Centre, said there is still a great deal of work to do in supporting people with Down’s Syndrome in Gaza. “We do numerous workshops and awareness programs for the local community, because honestly until now the local society is very poor when it comes to accepting the kids and young people who have this disorder,” he said.
The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland launched its latest project on Tuesday 13th September. Mairi Benson and Alexander Warren started work developing new ways to help people with learning disabilities connect with the projects that support them.
People with learning disabilities want to be more involved in having a say over what happens in their lives, how the organisations that support them work and the policies that affect them. Many people with learning disabilities now enjoy more independent support settings and have less overall support due to cutbacks. They use their support on aspects of their life such as skill acquisition or leisure and leaves little for taking part in formal consultations.
In a world of individual services and dispersed choices, attending service user meetings means using precious support time that could be used in other ways rather than travelling and spending hours in a meeting. Many younger people with support needs also tell us that they don't like the "old fashioned" type meetings.
Our idea is to test a model of going out to where people already spend their time with easy to use tablet computers loaded with simple and clear surveys that people with learning disabilities with different capacities to understand, can take part in.
We think that the use of communication technology along with better use of publicly available apps can help more people become involved in making choices in a setting of their own choosing with a smaller time commitment on their behalf. We will also test a further range of communication strategies including quizzes, games and activities.
We think people are more likely to contribute 15 minutes of their time if those doing the survey go to them and supports them to answer. This will help organisations make better decisions and ones that fit the needs of people themselves. People will benefit from more confidence with IT, gain more confidence in their decision making and become involved in other ways of speaking up. And this will help people with learning disabilities enjoy better services and make sure that those who make decisions about that affect their lives do so with the widest possible information
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