My Support, My Choice – major report on people’s experiences of Self-directed Support

Section: Health and Social Care IntegrationType: News Item Date Published: 15th October 2020

Research by the ALLIANCE and SDSS heard about the SDS and social care experiences of over 600 people around Scotland.

Research published today by the ALLIANCE and our partners Self Directed Support Scotland (SDSS) (this link will take you away from our website) found that the majority of participants accessing SDS in Scotland believe that it had improved their social care experience. 

“My Support, My Choice” (MSMC), a project funded by the Scottish Government,  includes  vital evidence, analysis and recommendations for improvement to SDS/social care in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on people’s experiences. 

MSMC asked people questions about how they got information about SDS, how much choice and control they had over their social care, communication and relationships with social work, care staff recruitment, training and quality, and their access to independent advocacy, advice and support 

Between November 2018 and February 2020, we heard about the experiences of 637 people via a survey, interviews and focus groups.  

Participants acknowledged SDS as important to achieving a higher quality of life and independent living. One person said“SDS basically is the a la carte of the care system. Previously the local authority provided this care, you had no choice. […] But now with SDS I have control. I can choose what option I want (within the rules, of course!). I find this is much more liberating. […] Basically, it has been the passport to independence. Whereas before, oftentimes, especially if you’re disabled you have to take what you get, you haven’t really any choice. But to have the ability to decide for yourself is liberating. So, it makes a big difference.” 

However, there are some key improvements that would respond to people’s concerns, build on existing good practice and increase the effectiveness and reach of positive SDS/social care experiences. For example, another participant said: “Don’t hold your breath. Process takes ages, too many long forms with stupid questions. Wait ages for SW [social worker]. Then pushed into PA [personal assistant] option as it’s cheaper for local authority. That’s if you can meet criteria.”  

The report makes several recommendations, many of which echo other independent reviews of SDS, including:  

  • Targeted work is needed to ensure all population groups can exercise their right to make a meaningful choice between all four SDS options, particularly women, people with learning disabilities, Black and minority ethnic people, people with experience of homelessness and people living in rural areas.  
  • There is a pressing need for local and national public bodies to improve systematic and robust disaggregated data gathering and intersectional analysis about people who access and apply for SDS/social care.  
  • Action is required to ensure that SDS budget cuts and tightened eligibility criteria do not negatively impact the physical and mental health and wellbeing of people on low incomes who access or are applying for SDS/social care.
  • Improvement is needed to guarantee short waiting times – for a needs assessment, review, or for support to be put in place – to help people avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, deterioration in their physical and mental health, and from reaching crisis point (with the potential for more serious and expensive intervention later on.) 
  • People value and use independent advocacy, advice and support organisations, and these services need sustainable resources to continue their important role. 

The main MSMC report released today is part of a suite of MSMC reports. In the coming weeks thematic reports will be published exploring the experiences of people with learning disabilities, Black and minority ethnic people, people with lived experience of mental health problems, blind and partially sighted people, and women as users of SDS. 

Find out more and read the research reports – including in Easy Read – at the links below.

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