Give Us Better Support To Direct Our Social Care

1st February 2019

Self-directed support is billed as a new flexible way of organising social care services that promotes choice – but what do the people who have used it think of this new service? In this week’s blog, Interim Chief Executive Glynis Henry shares the results of the PCC’s latest report…

“Give us better support to direct our social care” – That’s the clear message that people told us when we asked them to give us feedback on ‘self-directed support’.

Launched in Northern Ireland in 2015, self-directed support is a new way of providing social care services to the people that need them.  It aims to give people the freedom of choice to allow them to obtain the type of support they want, where they want it and when it suits them.

Today we have launched our latest report entitled ‘Our Experiences of Self-directed Support’; which represents the first user-feedback survey that has been conducted on self-directed support here in Northern Ireland.

Users of the scheme told us that they felt able to live active, independent lives by directing their care around their individual circumstances.  Those that care for a loved one said that self-directed support has enabled them to have a life beyond their caring duties and has allowed them to feel comfortable knowing that the person providing care to their loved one is consistent and trusted.

It is very encouraging to hear from people that they recognise and really value the flexibility and choice that self-directed support affords them when deciding how to arrange social care services. It is clear, however, that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed in order to improve the user experience.

People expressed issues with the amount of information and support that was provided to new recipients of self-directed support.  Many users and carers indicated they felt unsure of how they were able to direct their care or what services they were eligible to arrange, with some saying the confusion this caused making the option of taking self-directed support off-putting.

Carrying out this project we soon realised just how much people who receive self-directed support are reliant on their peers for information and advice.  This highlights a real gap in how the scheme has been rolled out across Northern Ireland and, going forward, I look forward to working with colleagues across the 5 Trusts and the Health and Social Care Board to address some of the key points raised within our report.

Dr Glynis Henry CBE
Interim Chief Executive
Patient and Client Council