Call for action as people with sight loss miss out on Self-directed Support

Press Release | 07/11/2019

Research by Scotland’s biggest sight loss charity Royal Blind has revealed low awareness among blind and partially sighted people of the Scottish Government’s flagship social care policy.

The findings have prompted fears that people with sight loss who could benefit from Self-directed Support are missing out, and led to a joint call from Royal Blind and Scottish Care for Scottish Ministers to take action to ensure people living with visual impairment are aware of their right to benefit from the policy.

Royal Blind surveyed over 100 people with sight loss to get their views and experiences of Self-directed Support. The charity found that:

  • Almost two thirds of people with sight loss participating in the survey had not heard of Self-directed Support.

  • Only five respondents to the survey had a support plan funded through Self-directed Support.

  • Over 60% of respondents had never been informed of the budget available to them for their care and support.

The research follows previous findings published by Audit Scotland in 2017 which reported that at least 53,000 people were accessing Self-directed Support, but more people should benefit from the policy and more information should be available on how to apply.

Royal Blind and Scottish Care are now calling on the Scottish Government to take further action to raise awareness of Self-directed Support including through providing accessible information on the policy for people with visual impairment. The organisations are also urging local authorities to develop plans to increase access to Self-directed Support for people with visual impairment, including through providing more training to staff on supporting people with sight loss to have the information they need on the policy.

Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded said:

“Self Directed Support is a great policy initiative by the Scottish Government which could benefit thousands of people living with sight loss. That is why it is so disappointing that there appears to be low awareness of the policy among blind and partially sighted people, and also why we are backing the call by Scottish Care for more action to raise awareness that it is available. With the numbers of people with sight loss in Scotland set to increase significantly, it is vital they can access the specialist care they need and have access to Self-directed Support which can help them live well with visual impairment.”

Quote from Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive Officer of Scottish Care said:

“Self-directed Support is one of the most progressive pieces of law in Scotland. It gives people choice and control over their care and their lives. It is therefore hugely disappointing that five years on since it started this survey shows that hundreds perhaps thousands of older Scots with a visual impairment they are not benefitting from these rights. The excuses from local authorities and Integrated Joint Boards are running out and we are left with the conclusion that this human rights based policy is being consciously ignored, blocked and underfunded, or that only those who shout the loudest are being given choice and control.

There is little point in having fantastic legislation if there are is a collective failure to put it into practice. There is little point in having rights under the law if the obstacles to exercising those rights are growing every day.

Scotland needs to get serious about the denial of the human rights of our fellow citizens with visual impairment.”