Call for more advice for elderly on social care choices

More should be done to clear up 'misunderstandings' and reduce bureaucracy to help older people navigate their social care needs, according to a leading charity.
Picture: PAPicture: PA
Picture: PA

Age Scotland have reacted to the findings of a new report for the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General into the operation Self-Directed Support (SDS) showing that many people who use the service are not receiving accurate advice and support from their councils about their statutory rights.

The policy, drawn up by the Scottish Government and council body Cosla in 2010, aims to improve the lives of people with social care needs by giving them a greater say in decisions about their care and support.

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People lacking support from carers, personal assistants or friends and family, those aged 85 and over and people with mental health problems were less likely to benefit.

The report said the Scottish Government and partners had underestimated the challenges and the scale of change needed while implementation had also stalled during the integration of health and social care.More reliable data is needed on the choices available and people using social care services and their carers should have better information, it said.

Keith Robson, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said: “We’re disappointed that few people are taking advantage of the options available, particularly in the over-85 age group. While some older people find it works very well, too many are not informed enough about their choices.

“There is a perception that it is more for younger people or too much hassle to put in place.”

He added: “In many cases, the bureaucracy can be overly complicated and time-consuming, and councils can be reluctant to give appropriate advice, especially proactively. This can be a major issue for older people who need care immediately, for example if they are just coming out of hospital.”

The report also acknowledged authorities are facing significant pressures from increasing demand, limited budgets for social care services and challenges in recruiting and retaining social care staff.

Ronnie Hinds, acting chairman of the Accounts Commission, said: “There is a growing body of evidence that SDS is helping many people with support needs to live more fulfilling lives.

“However, there is no evidence of the transformation required to fully implement the policy.”

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