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24 August 2017, 05:25
More people should be benefiting from a planned transformation of social care, a new report has said.
The review found "no evidence" of the radical change needed to fully implement a ten-year strategy for self-directed support (SDS).
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.
The report for the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General highlighted many examples of progress but concluded not everyone was getting enough choice and control.
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.
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 chair 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.
"Radical change of this kind is never easy but we are in the seventh year of the 10-year SDS strategy and it's been three years since the legislation was introduced.
"Authorities must respond more fully to provide services that make choice and control a reality for everyone who needs social care."
Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: "SDS is clearly working well for some people but many more people can and should benefit from it.
"The Scottish Government has invested £70 million in SDS and needs to work with its partners to boost progress and develop its full potential."
Public health minister Aileen Campbell said the government was extending funding for relevant independent information, advice and advocacy projects.
She said: "The report's recommendations give clear direction on what must be done to ensure that self-directed support becomes embedded as Scotland's mainstream approach to social care.
"We expect local authorities, who are responsible for implementing self-directed support, to make progress on implementing these recommendations."
Councillor Peter Johnston, Cosla's health and wellbeing spokesman, said: "Cosla welcomes Audit Scotland's report which highlights the scale of the challenge councils and integration authorities are facing, and acknowledges we are being asked to deliver transformational change against a backdrop of increasing demand and tighter budgets.
"Shifting to new models of care and support inevitably means facing the dual running costs of continuing, or slowly winding down, existing services until new models are fully in place.
"The squeeze on local government funding has undoubtedly impacted on the pace at which some areas are able to progress this.
"However, despite these challenges, Audit Scotland also found that most people rate their social care services highly - evidence that councils and integration authorities are continuing to deliver for our communities in the most difficult of circumstances."