'˜Obscene' care policy failing vulnerable in Scotland

Care being provided to many of Scotland's elderly and vulnerable people is 'obscene and illegal', the head of the industry group representing care providers has said.
Elderly people form the biggest portion of care users. Picture: by Ian GeorgesonElderly people form the biggest portion of care users. Picture: by Ian Georgeson
Elderly people form the biggest portion of care users. Picture: by Ian Georgeson

Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said laws on self-directed support (SDS) – which gives people with disability or support needs a choice on how their support is provided and control over its budget – are being disregarded on a regular basis.

Last night Peter Hunter, Unison Scotland’s regional organiser, said many care workers were leaving the sector due to low wages to work in retail because they could “earn more on a supermarket check-out” resulting in severe problems with attracting and retaining staff who would be in the front-line implementing the Scottish Government’s flagship policy.

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“I can count on one hand the number of individuals in care homes who have been given the choices they are supposed to get,” said Dr Macaskill.

“Self-directed support us bit ab optional extra or a luxury. It is the law. But it has not been properly, fully and robustly implemented.

“Government cannot just pass laws, it has to make sure they are followed.”

Dr Macaskill’s criticisms come as a report from Alzheimer Scotland and In Control Scotland and Scottish Care said the Scottish Government policy was failing and was also breaching the rights of vulnerable people.

He added that older people, in particular, who formed the majority of social care users, were being failed by the policy,

“The Human Rights Act, particularly article eight (the right to a family life) is not being adhered to.”

The report is calling on the Scottish Government to investigate alleged breaching of people’s human rights and to ensure the SDS policy is properly implemented.

Mr Hunter said: “Everyone knows that from health to education to social care, if you don’t pay adequate wages you won’t attract and retain staff.

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“While there is not the willingness to invest more by directing spending away from areas such as defence projects or raise taxes we will continue to have varying degrees of crisis in social care .”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Self-directed support represents a long-term, transformational change in how Scotland plans and delivers social care – and will take time to fully embed.

“In December, we published a new implementation plan which was developed with input from people who use the service and our stakeholders from across the sector.

“This sets out firm actions and priorities to accelerate the pace of change and ensure self-directed support is working as intended on the ground.”