Self-directed support


This week, as convenor of the Health Committee, I heard evidence on the Self-Directed Support Bill which seeks to put choice at the heart of care for the vulnerable.


Traditionally the services required by those in need of care have been arranged and managed by local authorities.


Self-directed support will seek to move towards giving people greater control about the way support is provided to them.


Those who require care will have the choice of remaining with their current care arrangements, receiving individual budgets via direct payment from the council or employing their own personal assistant.


They will also have the option of receiving care from independent voluntary sectors and indeed for the first time, friends or family members.


While the principle of putting choice at the heart of patient care is laudable, the devil is in the detail.


A number of questions around the practicalities will need to be fully addressed in the progress of the bill.


How will self-directed support ensure better quality of care? 


How will it work for those who have less capacity to choose, including children and the mentally impaired?


If the care is not provided by a professional, how do we ensure that it is properly regulated?


Self-directed support will affect people across the board, the young, the elderly, those who suffer from a physical or learning disability as well as people who are afflicted with dementia or a mental health problem.


It is important therefore that we get it right.


We must ensure self-directed support allows for better quality care for our most vulnerable while they are at home and in the community, and ensure carers that this is not simply a cost cutting exercise.