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Self Directed Support Scotland AGM 2017: a bridge from policy to practice

Date posted: October 13, 2017

Self Directed Support Scotland AGM 2017: a bridge from Policy to Practice

Self Directed Support Scotland’s 2017 AGM, open to our membership and emerging members, is a short, highly focussed and interactive event aiming to deliver real solutions to members’ issues in converting SDS policy to practice. The programme includes:

  • Your views represented, what SDS Scotland is doing for you – Florence Garabedian, SDSS Chair
  • What’s next in SDS Vision and Funding – Karen Geekie from the Scottish Goverrnment SDS Policy Team
  • The new Transistions Fund – ILF Scotland
  • Working Lunch Workshops to resolve issues highlighted in our 2017 member survey aligned with the findings of August’s Audit Scotland report
  • Local members, SDS Options Fife (DPHS Fife) and ENeRGI, share best practice
  • Self Directed Support Scotland’s AGM
    The event is fully accessible with lunch provided and member’s reasonable transport costs reimbursed.


Florence Garabedian has been the Chief Executive of the Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCiL) since 2008.   Florence’s experience is rooted in community development and user-led organisations working with minority groups at local, national and international levels.  Through LCiL and SDSS she is actively involved in the Independent Living Movement and she currently chairs the SDSS board of trustees.

Jess Wade has worked in the Scottish voluntary sector since 2004, when she graduated from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently Manager at Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS), working with local, disabled people’s Self Directed Support organisations throughout the country. She has previously worked in a range of roles in the sector, including fundraising, volunteering and campaigning, is a Trustee of a local family support charity and was appointed to the Board of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in 2016. She has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of York and is a long time human rights activist.

Karen Geekie is Self-directed Support Policy Lead for the Scottish Government and has been with the team since December 2016 and Scottish Government since 2003. Her previous experience is primarily in community learning and development/ adult literacy, with various roles including setting up a professional body for CLD, implementing new legislation, and developing training and support for practitioners. She is professionally qualified in CLD and actively involved with a range of community organisations outside work.

Peter Scott is the Chief Executive Officer ILF Scotland. Peter has over 20 years’ experience working in the voluntary and third sector, specifically in the area of disability. He began his career as a Support Worker in 1993 for a charity called Fair Deal. For the next 17 years, Peter undertook a number of managerial roles with various charities before becoming the Executive Director for Enable in 2008. In 2010, Peter then became Enable’s 6th CEO, before moving to ILF Scotland in 2015.

Supporting Organisations

ENeRGI provides support and information for people who have experienced, or are experiencing mental health and/or substance misuse issues as well as their carers.  We provide a Drop-in Centre, Welfare Benefits Advice, Service Self Directed Support Project, Befriending Service and a Housing Support Service.  We are a Registered Scottish Charity established in 1995 and since then have and continue to grow and develop successful, dynamic, responsive and much needed services.  Our aim is to offer support and information to all who feel they require it.  We strive to be accessible at the time and point of need.

Most people experience mental health issues at some point in their lives.  ENeRGI is here for anyone who feels they may benefit from our services.  We offer personalised, positive outcome focused support with choice, control and participation at the heart of everything we do.  We work in partnership with other projects and services to raise awareness, increase understanding, share good practice, and enable the voice of disabled people, carers and supported people to be heard in current and future service provision and development.

SDS Options Fife is an independent information, support and advice service covering the whole of Fife.

Self Directed Support Options (Fife) was set up by Disabled Person’s Housing Service (Fife) in July 2015 as a response to the need for an independent service in Fife that provided information, support and advice to people about Self Directed Support. With all new referrals and reviews for social care and support going down the Self Directed Support pathway since 2014 there was a real need for impartial information and advice.

As an organisation assisting people with disabilities with their housing options it fits well within the organisation as many disabled people looking for housing will also need support to help them manage their tenancy, meet their care and support needs, be as independent as possible and form ties with the local community which is something self directed support can help with.

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Audit Scotland SDS Report – So, what now?

Date posted: September 7, 2017

Audit Scotland Self Directed Support progress report, podcast and EasyRead summaries

Get your copy of the Audit Scotland Self Directed Support progress report, podcast and EasyRead summaries.

Members will, no doubt, be well aware that the Audit Scotland SDS: 2017 Progress Report was released last week. If you’ve not yet had the chance to read it, or even if you have, perhaps you would like to hear the SDSS take?

Our Chair, Florence Garabedian, has commented on the report in Third Force News, saying:

‘the major lesson of this report is that SDS should be at the heart of the health and social care transformation, rooted in human rights of all people, and lead towards a genuine review of what social care support means in 21st century Scotland.’

The report recognises the difficulties that have been associated with SDS implementation in Scotland, and highlights some significant poor practice, such as Option 2 arrangements that limited choice, social workers reporting being told that SDS was not for older people, and significant budget cuts in some areas, as just a few examples. It also acknowledges many examples of positive practice and progress towards good SDS but says that:

‘there is no evidence that authorities have yet made the transformation required to fully implement the SDS strategy.’

So, what now?

The report makes a number of recommendations for local authorities, Scottish Government and key partners which includes all of us with an interest in making SDS work.

The recommendations make it clear that authorities must work with service users, carers and providers to improve: flexibility and choice, assessment and support planning processes, information and support, along with outcomes focussed approaches. So, the opportunity here is for members and service users to approach authorities to get involved in this work and influence how it all develops. The report serves as an important reminder to authorities about the need for genuine local co-production to make SDS  a success and it is everyone’s business to ask how this will be done.

There were also a number of key recommendations for the Scottish Government itself, including around development of national data on SDS. One of the most relevant for information and support organisations is for the Scottish Government to:

‘review what independent information, advice and advocacy people will need in future, and how that should be funded after current Scottish Government funding for independent organisations comes to an end in March 2018. This review should fully involve users, carers, providers and authorities, and should conclude in time for appropriate action to be taken’.

SDSS has already been in touch with the SDS Policy Team to offer our involvement in this process and we will work to support members through this in any way we can. Linked to this, in response to the report, the Scottish Government announced a short term extension to existing Support in the Right Direction funding arrangements, and funded projects have already been contacted directly about how to access this additional money. The Scottish Government also announced that there will be a further round of funding, to run up to 2021, and it is the development of this that SDSS, along with our members, will aim to influence.

Looking further, we now must all work together to emphasise the value of independent support and the necessity of a sustainable infrastructure around it to ensure that beyond 2021 everyone eligible for SDS has access to the right information and support at the right time for them to have the genuine choice and control that is central to SDS.

Another key recommendation for the Scottish Government is around the bigger picture and ensuring that SDS implementation is reflected in policy guidance in a range of relevant areas, including integration, community empowerment, community planning, housing and benefits. SDSS members know only too well that SDS cannot be seen as a niche approach that is only for a minority of people, or as an isolated aspect of someone’s life. It is good to have this recognised through the report and recommendations and if fully acted on, this will be a great step in the direction of the vision of SDS being rooted in the human rights of all people.

Have you approached your LA about how they intend to act on the recommendations and how you and your members can work with them on this? Do you intend to? Please let us know how you get on or if you would like any support on this.

Scotland Against the Care Tax Campaign: Daily Record support!

Date posted: August 29, 2017

Scotland Against the Care Tax: now a Daily Record Campaign!

Scotland Against the Care Tax has been campaigning to abolish care charges for Social Care in Scotland for some time. Now the Daily Record has started campaigning for their abolition by using case studies to illustrate the injustice of this tax.

As an active member of Scotland Against the Care Tax, SDSS would like to encourage all members to support people to get involved in the campaign.  The reporter leading on this is Annie Brown, and she is keen to speak to anyone who would be willing to share their experience of the Care Tax and how it impacts on their life.

Some examples of recent pieces she has written on this are here:

Director highlights disability care tax scandal with hip-hop film Tax on Me

Former postie paralysed by cancer forced to splash out £600 a month in care tax

Annie would like to speak to, and share the stories of, as many people as possible who are affected by this tax, particularly anyone who is really suffering because of it. She can be contacted by email or by telephone at: 07747757914

SACT have also produced a Sample Letter to MSP (SACT)(Aug 2017) that people can use to protest against the care tax by writing to their MSP. See their video below!


Shared Ambition for Social Care Event: 1 Year On – Whats Happened?

Date posted:

An Event looking at the development of the Shared Ambition for Social Care

The Shared Ambition for Social Care document was written by a range of disabled people’s organisations to support Independent Living in Scotland. One year on, the event will look at what has happened and what needs to happen in the future.

You can see a copy of Our Shared Ambition for the Future of Social Care Support in Scotland

The event will be held on:

Date: Thursday 14th September 

Time: 1pm – 3.30pm

Venue: Norton Park Centre
57, Albion Road
Edinburgh EH7 5QY

The questions that will be discussed include:

·       Has social care support evolved to protect, promote and ensure our human rights?

·       Is it an effective contributing factor in tackling Scotland’s inequalities?

·       Is the system fair, transparent and consistent?

·       Do we share a common understanding of what social care support is, what it needs to be and what it is for?

·       Has social care support become entrenched as the poor relation in the Integration framework?

·       Are the challenges and solutions transparent and are we coproducing them?

·       What does all this mean for disabled people, carers and Scotland, and what do we need to do about it?

There will be a panel of experts including: Neil Findlay MSP (Convenor of Health and Sport Committee), Dr Sally Witcher (CEO Inclusion Scotland), Lucy McTernan (Deputy Chief Executive, SCVO) and Karen Hedge (National Director, Scottish Care) plus national and local government spokespersons.

New Carers Act for 2018 – Give views on the Draft Regulations and Carers Charter

Date posted: August 11, 2017

New Carers Act for 1st April 2018 – have your say on the Draft Regulations and Carers Charter

The new Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 will come into force on 1st April 2018. To be ready for this, the Scottish Government are asking people for their views on the the Regulations and the Carers Charter. There are 2 documents, the Regulations which is asking about the content of the legislation and the Charter, which sets out the rights of carers under the Act.

This new legislation will extend and enhance the rights of carers. The Charter is intended to ensure first and foremost that carers are aware of their rights as carers. To read about the Act see here: Carers (Scotland) Act 2016

The Act will include, amongst other things:

  • a duty on Local Authorities to provide support to carers, based on the carer’s identified needs which meet local eligibility criteria.
  • a specific Adult Carer Support Plan and Young Carer Statement to identify carers’ needs and personal outcomes.
  • a requirement for each Local Authority to have its own information and advice service for carers which must provide information and advice on, amongst other things, emergency and future care planning, advocacy, income maximisation and carers’ rights.

The consultation is now live and you can give your views on this below.

If you want to speak to anyone in the Scottish Government about the consultation, you can contact Michael Mawdsley at:

Inspiring Scotland Survey on Accessible Play for Children

Date posted:

Inspiring Scotland Surveys on Accessible Play for Children with additional support needs

Inspiring Scotland Go2Play colleagues are commissioning researcher Theresa Casey to write a guide to developing inclusive play spaces. As part of her research she is conducting two short surveys.

What makes play areas accessible and inclusive? Two short surveys.

The surveys each take about 10 minutes to complete. The findings will inform a new step-by-step guide to commissioning and building play areas (public playgrounds) in Scotland. The aim is that all play areas can be more inclusive and accessible and Inspiring Scotland would like to find out what would help to achieve that. The guide will be published as part of the Play Strategy for Scotland.

This survey closes at midnight on Monday 2nd October 2017. Thank you for your participation! Your views are greatly appreciated. For further information please contact:

GIRFEC Information Event – 21st September 2017 in Glasgow

Date posted:

GIRFEC Information Event – 21st September 2017 in Glasgow

The ALLIANCE are running an information session on GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) which is looking at the effects of the new Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, as well as the Code of Practice on information sharing under Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

This is a really useful opportunity to become familiar with GIRFEC and how this should be applied to the needs of children and young people in Scotland.

Time: 10am – 12.30pm

Venue: GCVS: The Albany
44, Ashley Street
G3 6DR

There will also be other GIRFEC information events across Scotland in 2018.

These Training the Trainer workshops are aimed at Third Sector organisations working directly with children, young people and parents and their statutory partners. The workshops will bring participants up to date with the content and implications of the new Bill and the illustrative Code of Practice. The Parliamentary process which will apply to the Bill and Code will be outlined. Participants will be equipped to share information with children, young people, parents and colleagues about:

  • The Named Person
  • Wellbeing
  • The Child’s Plan, and
  • Plans to amend the law and to introduce a Code of Practice on information sharing with or by the Named Person service or in connection with a Child’s Plan
  • Current government policy on Getting it right for every child

Workshops and the resources will be available free of charge.

The workshop will have a 9.30am (for 10am start), and finish at approximately 12.30pm. The workshop will be facilitated by Ronnie Hill, ALLIANCE Associate Director and Third Sector Implementation Advisor, Scottish Government Getting it right for every child team; in partnership with GCVS’ Everyone’s Children Team.

Please note, these workshops are very likely to be oversubscribed and early registration is advisable. It would also be helpful if you could let us know if you have any specific accessibility or dietary requirements by emailing

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Wardrop on (0141) 404 0231 or email

3 day SDS Course – ‘Making the Law work for You’ – book now!

Date posted: August 8, 2017

Making the Law Work for YouTom GuthrieCathy Asante

Equality and Human Rights

Making the Law Work for You:
SDS, Human Rights and Equalities

A three day training course for the third sector (Now Fully Subscribed!)

You can still be added to a Waiting List – or register your interest for future dates below

Tuesday 10th October – Thursday 12th October 2017

Time: 10am-4pm

Venue: Hanover Conference Centre, 95 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS

If you want to know how to make practical use of the SDS legislation to resolve issues that you or people you are supporting are facing, this is the course for you!

Trainers include:

  • Professor Tom Guthrie, Glasgow University of Glasgow School of Law
  • Cathy Asante, Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission

More trainers will be announced shortly. A full Course Brochure will be made available in due course. See the flyer here: MECOPP October Training Course Flyer(Aug 2017).

The training course is FREE. However, a £25 fee will be charged to those who book but do not attend. Terms and Conditions apply.

Tea and coffee will be provided, but participants are asked to provide their own lunch.

Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

If you need help with transport or accommodation to enable you to take part in the course, please contact Janet or Jennifer below.

For further information please contact Janet Marsh or Jennifer Paton on 0131 467 2994 or email

Post School and Higher Education Guides for Disabled Learners and Carers

Date posted: August 4, 2017

Lead Scotland Information Guides for Disabled Learners and Carers:

1) Post-school Learning Choices in Scotland

This guide contains information relating to a range of both formal and informal learning opportunities in Scotland, including:

  • Community learning
  • Further education courses at college
  • Vocational training and apprenticeships

This guide will be useful for:

  • Young people thinking about their learning options after school;
  • Adult learners thinking of taking up a new learning opportunity;
  • Carers of disabled people considering their learning options.

When making decisions about learning opportunities, people may want to know when and where to apply, whether any extra support is available if you are disabled, and how you will pay for your learning if there are any fees. People might also need to think about how they will meet their living costs if they have to stop working to take part in learning. You can see a copy of the Guide here

2) Higher Education in Scotland

Their booklet aims to help people through the process of applying to higher education, as well as providing information and advice about any extra support available if they have a disability, and how they might fund their studies. The booklet helps people to think about their options in higher education after they have finished school, and is also useful if you are older and considering going back into education. You can see a copy of the booklet here

Updated Information for PA Employers – PA pay rates

Date posted: August 1, 2017

Personal Assistant (PA) pay rates:

At SDSS we know that the world of PA employment is always changing, so here is a round up of a few key recent developments:

The Living Wage Increase:

In May 2017, the Living Wage went up to £8.45 per hour.

Should I pay my PA the Living Wage?

The Scottish Government and Local Government have jointly committed to enabling the Living Wage to be paid to all adult social care workers in Scotland.

Since 1st October 2016 the Living Wage should be paid to all care workers providing direct care and support to adults in care homes, care at home, and housing support.  This covers all purchased services, including specialist support services such as those for people with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health difficulties and substance misuse issues. The new rate applies for all hours worked and therefore encompasses sleepovers, travel time and holiday pay and should be achieved as part of a positive approach to fair work practices.

What about Personal Assistants?

Personal assistants employed via Self-Directed Support (Option 1 – Direct Payment) were not explicitly included in the commitment to deliver the Living Wage but Local Authorities may be at risk of a challenge with regards to principles of equal treatment and discrimination if allowances aren’t sufficient to pay a personal assistant the Living Wage.

What’s New?

From May 2017, the Living Wage is £8.45 per hour, and so this is the minimum that all care workers in Scotland should now be paid.

For more information on the Living Wage Commitment see here.

If you are not being funded by your Local Authority to pay the Living Wage, you could consider challenging them on this.  In any case, legally you must at least pay at the rates below, set by the UK government:

From April 2017, the National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • £7.50 for workers aged 25 and over (up from £7.20)
  • £7.05 for 21 to 24 year olds (up from £6.95 per hour)
  • £5.60 for 18 to 20 year olds (up from £5.55 per hour)
  • £4.05 for 16 to 17 year olds (up from £4.00 per hour)

You can find more information about minimum pay rates here:

Sleepover Rates:

The Living Wage commitment applies for all hours worked, and therefore encompasses sleepovers.  However, sleepovers have historically been paid at different rates, for example paying a flat rate sum for each sleepover shift.

A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling against Mencap ruled that carers sleeping overnight to provide safety and reassurance should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for all hours.

Although the ruling does not necessarily apply to all carers, it certainly could affect anyone employing a PA.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have issued a statement recognising that some written guidance previously published was potentially misleading and therefore stating that the government will waive financial penalties faced by employers who are found to have underpaid their workers for sleepovers prior to 26th July 2017.  However, it will continue to demand up to six years back pay for sleepovers that were not paid at the correct hourly rate.

The UK Government:

  • Re-affirms its expectation all employers pay workers according to the law, including the National Minimum Wage, which is explained in guidance entitled “Calculating the National Minimum Wage”.
  • Will waive financial penalties faced by all employers found to have underpaid their workers for “sleep-in” shifts, when those shifts took place before 26 July 2017;
  • Has adopted a policy of suspending HM Revenue and Customs enforcement activity concerning payment of “sleep-in” shifts by social care providers, which will apply until 2 October 2017; and
  • Will work with representatives of the social care sector, during the period of that suspension, to see how it might be possible to minimise any impact on provision of social care as a result of this situation

You can see the full statement here.

Disability Rights UK are working to support PA Employers on this issue and would like to know if you have been affected: more information here.

Disability Rights UK want to know if you have been asked to give your PA back pay for sleeping in: We already know of two cases. Sue Bott, Deputy CEO of Disability Rights UK, said: “People just don’t receive enough money in their personal budgets to be able to pay national minimum wage for every overnight hour.” HMRC has announced that it will waive financial penalties but will continue to demand the minimum wage and up to 6 years back pay for carers sleeping overnight. Affected? Find out more

Costs of Adult Social Care

In a previous blog we highlighted a new tool from the Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS) to help identify the costs of adult social care and some PA Employers may also find this useful:

For further information on the backpayment of Sleepover wages to staff in the care sector, see Third Force News article here: