GCU researchers analyse social care support choices

12 August 2015

The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland has commissioned researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to explore local authority and voluntary sector provider perspectives on new legislation which determines how people who receive social care have different degrees of choice and control over the budget for their support. 

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act places a duty on local authorities to ensure that people who are eligible for social care are offered range of ways of taking control of the budget for their support. The duty applies to adults, young people, children and carers.

There are four options: the supported person has full control of the money for their support; the supported person directs how the money for their support should be spent but does not hold the budget directly; the supported person asks the local authority to arrange support on their behalf; or the supported person chooses two or more of the above options.

‘Self-directed support’ gives people more choice and control over their social care support, but the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland wanted to determine if the second option (the supported person directs how the money for their support should be spent but does not hold the budget directly) worked in practice for local authority and voluntary sector providers.

Dr Martin Kettle, Senior Lecturer in Social Work was commissioned to analyse their views by Providers & Personalisation, a policy and practice change programme for voluntary sector providers of care and support hosted by the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) with financial support from the Scottish Government.

CCPS represents over 70 of the most substantial care and support providers in Scotland’s third sector, providing support in the areas of community care for adults with disabilities and for older people, youth and criminal justice, addictions, homelessness, and children’s services and family support.

The report found that giving social care organisations the money to care for people but allowing the person in care to direct how the money for their support should be spent is “particularly challenging for organisations working in the current social care system”.

The findings suggested that, interpretations differ according to how public authorities view the tension between personal choice and ‘duty of care’.  This had a significant influence on the procurement and contractual approaches chosen by local authorities.

Dee Fraser, Development Manager, Commissioning, Procurement and SDS at the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, said: “It is clear that genuine partnership between local authorities and providers is crucial to making choice and control a reality for supported people. However, this genuine partnership has not happened yet; as one participant says ‘we’ve got really simple things to learn about meaningful relationships and meaningful dialogue’.”

Dr Kettle said: “There are some encouraging signs of creative practice that are improving outcomes for supported people. However, more remains to be done to develop a culture where this is the norm. There also needs to be a more explicit exploration of risk, both to supported people and the organisations that support them.”

The full research report can be downloaded from the CCPS website.