Scotland’s national strategy for self-directed support could lead to increased costs, reduced income for service providers and a lower quality of care, the United Kingdom Home Care Association has warned.
In its response to the Scottish government consultation on the strategythe UKHCA states that councils will face higher prices from providers as they will no longer be able to negotiate low-price block contracts. It also warns that the high set-up costs of self-directed support are being ignored.
UKHCA senior policy officer Francis McGlone said: “Virtually the first thing the strategy says is that ‘tighter financial pressures and demographic changes mean that improved outcomes cannot be delivered with more of the same’.”
He added: “I think there’s a question mark over the savings.”
The UKHCA also raised concerns about the quality of care from the expected rise in the use of personal assistants as direct payments are expanded. This is because PAs do not have to meet the same standards – including on training – as staff working for registered home care providers.
The UKHCA is also concerned that the increased use of personal assistants will impact on the recruitment of workers by home care agencies.
It is also worried that home care agencies may have to pay more to recruit good staff while also facing lost income from the removal of block contracts.
McGlone said part of the answer was to improve training for personal assistants, as recommended in the strategy, and for PAs to be subject to the same standards as registered care staff.
The 10-year Scottish strategy is designed to roll out personalisation in social care and related services.
It mirrors the three-year Putting People First programme for England, under which councils are expected to give users choice over how their needs are met, improve information on care and invest in prevention.
As in England, the strategy promotes the use of individual budgets – known as personal budgets in England.