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Legislation requires social work services to ensure clients have a choice

SOME facts have been overlooked by some correspondents writing about the future of learning disability day services in Glasgow (Letters, December 17 & 18).

First, Glasgow City Council has made no decision on the future of these services.

Social work services has put forward some proposals for reform and is consulting stakeholders who have an involvement. This means we have made some suggestions and we are keen to hear people's views and proposals on what a reformed service should look like if they disagree.

Secondly, the Scottish Government has passed the Self Directed Support Bill which will require local authorities to ensure that service users are able to effect choice and control over the services they receive to meet their needs. This can only be achieved in an equitable way within the framework of a resource allocation system.

Thirdly, the movement towards providing a personalised approach to the delivery of services began in social work in Scotland with the publication of the 21st Century Review of Social Work entitled Changing Lives in 2006. In Glasgow, we began working on this agenda in 2008 and the council's executive committee approved the roll-out of personalisation in October 2010, beginning with adults with a learning disability. So far 905 adults with a learning disability have moved to an outcome-based support plan; the intention has always been that the 520 individuals who attend our day services will also need to go through this process. The legislation means they have a legal right to be brought into the same system as everyone else.

The demographics and patterns of support to adults with a learning disability have been changing over time. Since 2002, some 10% of young people leaving school have been going to day centres. Thus the norm has been for 90% of school leavers to ask the council to arrange support in different ways.

Learning disability day services provision will change, regardless of the outcome of the consultation. The ability to choose, the need for fairness and equity of access to support services, the need to manage individual budgets to purchase services that meet the service users' needs and deliver outcomes all mean that maintaining an exclusive and institutionalised form of care support cannot be the right way forward. Social work services' proposals might equally not be the right way forward but something different needs to happen.

David Williams,

Executive director of social work services,

Glasgow City Council,

George Square,

Glasgow.

I AM grateful to the three senior academics who independently scrutinised the questionnaire used by Glasgow City Council for the 520 service users and family members who regard their day centres as a vital lifeline (Letters, December 18). My daughter is among that number.

On Monday Councillor Matt Kerr, executive member for social care, was asked to withdraw the questionnaire from the process. Carers present at the meeting made points similar to those raised by the academics in their letter. He declined to consider its removal.

He was also requested to convene a meeting early next month to include all of the families affected by day centre closures. Carers present were clear that they wanted one single meeting that breaks down isolation and prevents the exclusion of families who feel under pressure and intimidated.

The type of event suggested by carers could be the start of a democratic consultation process that genuinely listens to the views of people directly affected. They would be allowed to express their concerns and offer any alternatives to the council strategy. We await Councillor Kerr's response.

The most important aspect of this is the social segregation of the profoundly disabled day centre users. If the proposals are implemented, 200 of the least able will be excluded from the friendships, company and activities they enjoy at present.

Councillor Susan Aitken's prediction of more people with learning difficulties being left in the lurch is too terrible to contemplate. A future deprived of the structure, relationships and support provided by a dedicated and well-qualified workforce would take us from difficulty to disaster.

Tommy Gorman,

Flat 2/1,

17 Crosbie Street,

Glasgow.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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