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National Guidance exists for the use of restraint on “looked after” children in Scotland but nothing similar covers children with special needs in schools. This is a major oversight and means schools have no national standards on the appropriateness of restraint techniques, the use of de-escalation and the necessary levels of training.
This means that is some circumstances, bad practice has arisen and parents have little recourse to challenge teaching and other support staff. For more information see our stories on the events at Kingspark School in Dundee.
Even more surprising is that there is no external supervision of the care regime in schools. HMIE does not cover this in their inspections. It is left up the same local authorities who employ staff and run the schools to monitor them. This is a real concern and we are supporting a national petition to start a national dialogue to improve this picture.
In late 2014, the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland along with a number of National Carers Organisations, the Coalition Of Carers in Scotland, Carers Trust UK, MECOPP and Carers Scotland sought information from each council in Scotland about how they were getting on.
We found that many of the developments in Self Directed Support show that it is making some changes around Scotland. Yet the numbers affected by this remain very small compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who use social care support every year.
Concerns over liability, risk, managing expenditure seem to operate behind the scenes of the far more visible outcomes focussed assessment and creative support planning.
For a number of years, the development of the Single Shared Assessment introduced a standardised model of how social care needs would be assessed throughout Scotland. Now with the introduction of SDS, we have almost 32 different methods of assessing social care needs. Each values different things or takes different approaches. While social work professionals will do their best, every craftsman knows they need the best tools. Too many of these tools feel inadequate, with no real way of understanding what is missed or overlooked.
We welcome the move away from the pseudo-scientific approach of Resource Allocation Systems by some councils. This was a concern and worry for thousands of vulnerable people and their families.
Matching points to questions in the way that Points Based RASs do has the outward appearance of rationality, yet overlooks the key question of context. When people in one part of Glasgow or Edinburgh die on average 10-15 years earlier than in another part of the same city, how much more important must the social context of vulnerable people be when it comes to assessing social need. Yet so much of this is missed from the new assessments.
The “Equivalence” models are no panacea for social care but they avoid the worst of the budget cutting approach that might have developed by an over reliance on computer technology. However it is not yet clear how much change will emerge from those councils using the equivalence model.
Much of the opportunity for change the landscape of social care in Scotland lies with the development of Individual Service Funds and more flexible ways of spending these funds. As we have shown few councils have yet committed to taking a flexible approach and this really raises the question of what will, in reality, change.
The biggest challenge in introducing Self Directed Support will be assuming that those who currently receive support are looking for more control or a change in their service. Most just want to keep getting good support. Imposing change on people through reduced budgets or a new system could end up creating new problems which is why we welcome the efforts of a few councils to consider how to speedily resolve differences of opinion over social care.
New research by the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland has found that most councils in Scotland are now rejecting the pseudo scientific idea that complex social care needs can be translated into a single number (like the discredited IQ Score) and bringing back the judgement of professional social workers into working out social care needs.
18 out of 32 councils are now running an Equivalence model in their area. Only 12 councils are running the points based RAS in their areas and 1 of these only does it for people with learning disabilities. 2 councils have yet to decide what to do.
“Equivalence” is a system that relies on the judgement of a professional social worker to establish the level of a budget. They decide what support they would normally provide to a person with social care needs and then monetize that service so that it can be offered in the form of an indicative budget.
They start from the basis that it cannot be right to set a budget at a level unless there is good reason to believe that this level is reasonable and that someone could get their needs met with that budget.
Equivalency helps to show that the budget does reflect some real model of how a need might be met. In this system Self Directed Support gives the opportunity to the service user to meet those needs in a way that is even better for them than might originally have been done. They retain the option of asking the local authority to arrange a service of the “equivalent standard.”
Glasgow City Council Social Work Services are currently tendering for a new 20 bed Care Home for people with learning disabilities.
In Scotland we like to think of ourselves as being more forward thinking than the rest of the UK. But in November, shocked that more people were entering institutional care than leaving it in England, Norman Lamb MP, the UK Minster for Care admitted on the radio that the problem is that local authority provision for people living in independently was falling behind. And he promised action to deal with it. The money was there, he insisted.
ITS NOT THE SAME IN SCOTLAND
Glasgow City Council is seeking "a discrete unit dedicated to the care and accommodation of 20 adults with learning disabilities, staffed on a 24 hour basis, within the geographical boundary of Glasgow. It will comprise living spaces including dining areas, communal areas, and individual bedrooms. It will also have access to outside garden space for residents. The unit will have its own identity, and at very least a door separating the unit from other resources.
"The unit will be staffed 24 hours per day and able to meet the needs of up to 20 individuals over the age of 18 years with Learning Disabilities whose needs are to a level of complexity that cannot be met within a mainstream elderly care home environment.”
The service has to be fully up and running by 7th January 2015.
We are concerned because
Hammersmith and Fulham Council announced they will be getting rid of the charges after saving money elsewhere
Elderly and disabled people in Hammersmith and Fulham Council will no longer have to pay for home care charges.
A total of 313 people who currently pay for carers to help carry out everyday tasks such as having a bath, cleaning or shopping will no longer have to pay the £12 an hour charge which can amount to £281 a week.
Council leader Stephen Cowan announced the changes at last night’s public meeting held to celebrate the United Nation’s international day of disabled people.
There are 1,666 people in the borough who use the home care service, with the majority eligible for free home care, but those who fall outside the threshold will not have to pay from April next year if the final decision is voted on at the council’s annual budget-setting process in February.
Mr Cowan said: “I am pleased we have found the money from back office cuts, such as from the council’s PR and admin budgets, and today announce that this administration will abolish what has rightly become known as a tax on disability.”
The council says that abolishing care charges will cost £324,000 a year in lost income but that the scheme is being funded by £400,000 cuts in PR, council publications and lamp post banners.