In an unprecedented move, we, the undersigned, ask the Care Inspectorate to return to Glasgow as a matter of urgency to investigate the treatment of vulnerable adults with learning disabilities affected by a range of Glasgow City Council policies.
We are concerned that the conduct of Glasgow City Council over its decision to close 3 day centres for adults with learning disabilities brings to a head a series of concerns raised by carers, service users and professionals over the last 18 months and want these concerns to be investigated by the body with responsibility for the supervision of social work services in Scotland.
The City of Glasgow Council has introduced a new resource rationing system that is so divorced from assessment of need that before any assessment of the needs of day service users has taken place, the council can assert that 320 people no longer need a day centre based services and that 3 out of 7 day centres are to shut. Putting policy before need is a breach of social work principles.
The Care Inspectorate last carried out a scrutiny examination of the work of Glasgow City Council Social Work in 2011, completing its work in March of that year. The final report made a number of recommendations that indirectly criticised the City Council’s Personalisation Programme.
• Social work services should make sure that intelligence from assessment and care management informs the commissioning of services.
• Social work services should develop more effective means of involving and communicating with staff about the future direction of services.
• The service should continue to develop its workforce planning to make sure that it can identify and build on strengths and identify and address areas of risk arising from its service reform agenda.
• As the service progresses with its roll-out of self-directed support it should review its strategy for communicating with key people and organisations affected by, or involved in, the initiative. It should take action to address issues identified.
• The service should make sure that the processes for assessing individuals for self-directed support budgets are clear. These processes need to be applied consistently in order to capture a comprehensive picture of individual needs.
Since then, the council has pushed on with its Self Directed Support agenda paying little concern to such recommendations.
The City Council has now entered into a new phase of Self Directed Support where it plans to close 3 out of 7 day centres, stopping 320 people from using day centre even though none of them has been either assessed or offered an individual budget.
However despite the recommendations made above.
1. The council has carried out no new assessments on those using the day services to inform their commissioning plans. Instead they intend to make their commissioning plans first and only then carry out assessments. The Care Inspectorate recommendation was aimed at ensuring that the future of services for people with learning disabilities in the city was designed around need and not dogma.
2. Social Work staff remain disillusioned with the Self Directed Support process. Instead of this being a policy of empowerment, social work staff see this as a policy of cuts.
3. The council’s strategy for communicating has completely failed over the issue of day services, with the Director of Social Work refusing to speak about the subject at a meeting of carers in November. Serious concerns have been raised over the quality and openness of the information provided by the council for people with learning disabilities and for carers.
4. The process for assessment continues to be unclear for all concerned with a series of behind the scenes adjustments being made to Self Evaluation Questionnaires without the involvement of the individual or their families.
The Care Inspectorate has a duty to ensure that the quality of social work services meets the high standards of the public who ultimately pay for it.
We believe that Glasgow City Council is acting to the detriment of people with learning disabilities both now and for those who come to need support and help in the future. Many complaints and concerns have been raised with council staff and councillors over what this process has meant for people but there has been no substantial change in direction. Few new services have developed, year on year budgets reduce or remain frozen, the limits on what budgets can be spent on continue to be restricted, the number of people on Direct Payments (one of the measure of personal control) remains static, the number of people under guardianship continues to grow. Self Directed Support has become more about restriction than empowerment.
Only an external body with the right to inspect and intervene can resolve this matter. This is a job for the Care Inspectorate.