The Herald on Monday 16th January carries an article on the challenges faced by hundreds of people with learning disabilities in Glasgow as a result of the hurried Self Directed Support programme. The linking of this with the need to make spending cuts has damaged the process in the eyes of many of those who have taken part.
It has been hard for them to see any real gain in their lives from a process that many had hoped would lead to positive change.
We think there are four things that the City Of Glasgow Council can do to improve things.
1. More negotiation with individuals and families over the size of their support budgets. Too many decision about budgets are made behind closed doors and within the Social Work structures. Individuals and their families or their advocates should be part of all meetings that set a budget. Nothing about us without us.
2. More people should have real control over their budgets. The number of people with learning disabilities who have direct control over their budgets (Direct Payments) has fallen in the last 3 years. Most people who have been through the SDS process in Glasgow have no more control over their budget that they had before. This needs to change.
3. More flexibility about how social care budgets are spent. At the moment budgets are too focussed on "hours of support" and what they cost. Individual need to be given more scope on how they spend their budgets to meet their needs
4. There needs to be a clearer set of outcomes that the support should aim for that reflect people wishes. The current outcomes are very "care" orientated - they concentrate on care tasks such as keeping clean rather than a wider set of outcomes that reflect people's whole lives and participation in a wider community. Adopting the Scottish Government's Talking Points outcomes would help.
Finally we think it is important that Glasgow works harder on one major concern. There has been a rapid rise in the number of Guardianship orders taken out on people with learning disabilities over the last year. Some of these have been families worried that Glasgow will not listen to them unless they have guardianship. And others by Glasgow City Council seeking control over the decisions in people's lives. This has seen people lose the right to take decision on their own lives. Existing legislation makes it clear that "the least invasive option" should be chosen for people. Glasgow City Council could do more in this area.