THE care provided to many elderly people in Scotland is “obscene and illegal”, according to the head of an organisation representing care providers.

Donald MacAskill, chief executive of Scottish Care said laws on Self Directed Support (SDS) – which state people with disabilities or support needs should be given control of their own care, are being routinely flouted.

“I can count on one hand the number of individuals in care homes who have been given the choices they are supposed to get,” he said.

“Self directed support is not an optional extra or a luxury. It is the law. But it has not been properly, fully and robustly implemented. Government cannot just pass laws, it has to make sure they are followed.”

Dr MacAskill was speaking as a report from the charities Alzheimer’s Scotland and In Control Scotland and Scottish Care said the flagship Scottish Government SDS policy is failing, and the rights of vulnerable people are being breached. 

“Particularly in relation to older people s rights in Scotland we have massively failed the majority of users of social care.” Dr Macaskill said.

“The Human Rights Act, particularly article eight [the right to family life] is not being adhered to.”

Since 2009, under the self-directed support strategy, people needing social care are meant to be able to choose what care they receive and who provides it. The strategy became law in 2013.

But in a report for the Centre for Welfare Reform, senior figures say local authorities are restricting the choices available to people who need care, or even denying them SDS completely.

Meanwhile workers are on living wage but having to work ‘on demand’ often for several different employers to make ends meet, sometimes monitored electronically to ensure they stick to tight  schedules.

Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland said neglect of the care workforce was part of the problem, with the Scottish Government’s living wage for care workers of limited use when staff were often on zero hours contracts.

“How can we expect to deliver human rights to those who need support when we don’t reciprocate for the workforce?” he said.

“We have a couple of hundred thousand people working on the minimum wage of £8.45 an hour, but if you only get three hours a week what is the point? 

“Care workers have to work for two or three organisations to earn enough money to get by, often on tight timetables, and some are electronically monitored by their employers.”

Mr Simmons said social care employers often could not risk employing people full time as contracts required them to turn the “tap” of care on and off at will. “The result is that all the risk put on the worker as opposed to their employer, or the body which commissions them.

“If you want people to participate in providing really high quality care, we have to reject this institutional neglect and look at the value we place on the social care workforce.”

The report says the gulf between what is the human rights principles of the law and what is being delivered in practice is unacceptable.

It also warns the integration of health and social care has helped stall progress on implementing the law.

The report calls on the Scottish Government to investigate the alleged breaching of people’s human rights and to take accountability for the implementation of SDS.

It says councils must stop allocating care packages in terms of minutes and hours of support and review the electronic monitoring of the care workforce. 

All councils ensure users of care services should be given the full range of choices intended under self-directed support policies.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Self-directed support represents a long-term, transformational change in how Scotland plans and delivers social care – and, as such, will take time to fully embed. 

“In December, we published a new implementation plan which was developed with input from people who use the service and our stakeholders from across the sector.  

“This set out firm actions and priorities to accelerate the pace of change and ensure self-directed support is working as intended on the ground”.