Opinions

How do women experience Self-directed Support?

Written by: Lucy Mulvagh, Director of Policy and Communications, the ALLIANCE

Published: 26/10/2017

Not as well as they should, if the ALLIANCE’s research is anything to go by.

It seems like a while ago now, but earlier this year we carried out a small enquiry into people’s awareness, understanding and experiences of Self-directed Support (SDS). The results were published in June (‘Personal Experiences of Self-directed Support’), but are still yielding pertinent and revealing data. We’re in the process of sifting out information related to specific groups, and the first in the series is our briefing on SDS and Women (Women’s Experiences of SDS).

By looking in greater depth at women’s responses to our research, the ALLIANCE aims to gain a better understanding of how women engage with and experience the process. It is our contribution to what we hope will be a growing body of evidence to help improve SDS policy and practice.  One of our main concerns is that there is a gap in robust, national qualitative data on SDS, including women’s experiences.

Our short survey and focused interviews show there’s a very mixed picture for women, depending on who you are and what you use SDS for. It is very encouraging that women’s satisfaction with social care increased by around 16 per cent following the introduction of SDS. However, half of our female respondents said they did not feel they have enough support to meet their requirements and waiting times for SDS packages are unacceptably high.

The ALLIANCE is concerned that SDS is not being implemented according to its rights-based values and principles and will therefore not achieve transformational change in social care culture and services or help improve people’s lives. Specific equalities and traditionally marginalised groups – in this case women – are at great risk of being overlooked when they require targeted and tailored approaches.

As Emma Trottier of Engender, who kindly wrote the Forward to our briefing paper, notes: “Health and social care services, and decisions over their management, have a major impact on women, and ignoring women’s unique needs and realities inhibits social policies from being realised for half of Scotland’s population.”

We’ve learned a lot from carrying out this research, which we hope to continue to improve and repeat as a way to monitor how people’s experiences of SDS – as well as the facts and figures – improve over time. Keep an eye out for more targeted briefings, including older people and unpaid carers, which should be published soon.

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