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Audit Scotland SDS Report – So, what now?

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 our 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’.

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.