A carer’s view on plans for in-house services

Lynn Williams raises concerns over councils taking services back in-house and the impact on self-directed care

Tuesday 30th July 2019

Care providers have raised concerns over Scottish Labour plans to see councils take services back in-house, saying they are a ‘blunt instrument’ which fails to take into account the work of charities.

Here carer Lynn Williams outlines her concerns about the impact this policy could have on self-directed care, a reform which aims to give people more power over how their care is organised.

Lynn is a full-time unpaid carer for her husband, Derek, who has a high-level spinal injury and other linked, serious conditions. She also works part-time in a policy role in the charitable sector.

She says: “As an unpaid carer, I am deeply concerned by recent announcements which focus on bringing social care contracts back into council hands or “in house”.

“This flies in the face of the principles which are supposed to drive self-directed support where families should have a real choice in how they receive social care support.  

“Whilst we know that families are often not given a choice at present; holding the bulk of social care services in-house would mean that the transformation envisaged under the Self-Directed Support Act is less likely to happen.

“There is also the question of quality - council run does not always equal good quality, nor do such services offer flexibility and the responsiveness that many families seek.

“And as eligibility for social care tightens further, people may find themselves being pushed towards council provided care whether or not it is suitable.   

“Our own experience of local authority social work/social services is that they are not at all geared up to deal with people who have complex needs.

“Getting anywhere near a support package of any kind is becoming increasingly difficult.

“After looking potentially at self-directed support in the last couple of years only to be told “you won’t get much”, we had to rely on the local third sector carer centre at a time when I needed to have surgery.

“I remain convinced that this could not have happened without the support of Renfrewshire Carers Centre which runs a responsive and flexible respite and care service alongside its wider support activities.

“Third sector services like this are often of good quality; they operate often with a more compassionate ethos and can often offer greater continuity of care.

“To ignore that by focussing on bringing contracts back in house would leave many families without the right support and potentially much worse off.  

“It places at risk the stability of family care and will leave many thousands of third sector care workers concerned for their own jobs.  

“It also places at risk other community services offered by charities which act to prevent care and other crises.

“How geared up are council services to help take disabled young people to meet friends or participate in community activities?

“The announcement by at least one council on bringing social care contracts back in house shows a deep lack of understanding of what social care is (not just “home care”); of how social care operates and the significant role of voluntary and community based organisations in supporting the health, wellbeing and connectedness of older and disabled people, and unpaid carers.”