Social care for disabled children

Guest post by Bill Scott, Director of Policy, Inclusion Scotland

Scotland is in the process of integrating Health and Social Care services. In theory this could result in more individually tailored, wrap-around services for disabled children. However disabled children and their parents need to be involved in the planning and commissioning of the new services. Otherwise social care will continue to be something done to disabled children rather than with them.

Social care provides the essential support that can enable disabled children to participate in family, community and economic life. In other words it is key to achieving independent living and the parity of disabled children with their non-disabled peers. It means that disabled children should have rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and to live an ordinary life.

Self-Directed Support, where disabled children and their families, have choice over who provides their support was supposed to increase disabled children’s choice, dignity and control but cuts in care budgets have severely undermined its early promise.

Local Authority social care budgets have suffered because of the UK Government’s austerity cuts. As a consequence, disabled children’s access to essential social care is being restricted. Rationing of care services is depriving disabled children of the assistance they need to live full and fulfilling lives.

A further difficulty concerns the portability of care packages. At present disabled children who receive social care services and need to move home from one local authority to another because of family/care/ parental work reasons cannot readily do so because it means being reassessed and risking the loss of support.

Many families consequently avoid moving. Those who have no choice but to move can find the value of their child’s care package reduced by thousands, sometimes even tens of thousands, of pounds. This effectively denies disabled children and their families the right to “Freedom of Movement”, supposedly guaranteed to all European citizens.

Needs considered essential in one local authority are treated as aspirational and left unmet by others. Disabled people believe that this is profoundly unfair. We believe new regulations are needed to ensure it is possible to move a support package between local authorities without losing essential support.

After all what use is a right of movement between countries when in Scotland a disabled child and their family can’t move from Paisley to Glasgow without fear of losing their care package?

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