An insight into Scotland’s social care services

The findings from the Scottish Government’s latest Social Care Survey provide a fascinating – and in some cases surprising - insight into social care services across Scotland.

Social care services are those which give people the support, practical help and personal care they need to live as independently as possible within their community. Around £383 million was spent on these services in 2016.

As we would expect, the majority of people receiving these services are older. Three quarters are aged 65+.

Many of us would also assume the majority of these services are required by older people with dementia. The results reveal however this is far from the reality.

The most common reason for people needing social care services is because they are frail and elderly. A close second (around 27% of service users) is due to having a physical disability.

These findings support our experiences at Leuchie House where we see that the need for respite breaks from people with long term physical conditions, and those over 80 has never been higher. Yet it can be difficult to get this recognised and acknowledged. The survey findings leave this in no doubt.

The report also reveals a great deal about the level of control and choice people have over the services they receive.

Most social care services are funded through the Self-Directed Support (SDS) scheme, which is intended to give people options over how their care is managed. The survey reveals that 75% of people still have their care decided for them by their local authority. Only a minority choose the option which would give them full control over their care.

Again this mirrors what we hear at Leuchie from our guests and their carers.  They tell us it’s unrealistic to expect people with debilitating disabilities, or who are exhausted from caring, to have the time and energy to manage their care package, much as they’d love to be in the driving seat.

As we move towards a campaign to highlight the need for greater access and support for respite, it’s encouraging to see the government’s own statistics already support the case.

By Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier on 10 May 2018.