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

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.”

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 benefiting 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.”



Note to editors

1.Details of the survey by Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded:

    • The survey was promoted to people with sight loss using Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded services in August and September. Responses were from people with visual impairment or a carer or family member on their behalf. There were 110 respondents to the survey, although not all respondents answered all questions.
    • 109 people responded to the question “have you heard of Self-Directed Support.” 68 (62%) said they had not.
    • 81 people answered the question “Are you currently receiving care services” with almost half (39 people) stating that they were.
    • Only 5 respondents said they had a support plan funded through Self-Directed Support. Four of the five people who received care through Self-Directed Support said the system had worked well for them.
    • Around a fifth (19%) of respondents felt SDS was something they could benefit from, while 57% did not know whether they would.
    • Around a third (30%) of respondents said they had been given an explanation of SDS options, while 60% said they had not had the options explained to them.
    • A majority (63%) of respondents had never been informed of the budget available to them for their care and support.

2. Royal Blind is Scotland’s largest visual impairment organisation. We create life changing opportunities for visually impaired children and adults from across Scotland and the rest of the UK with the following services: The Royal Blind School and Learning Hub, Adult Services, Care for Older People, the Scottish Braille Press and Kidscene After School and Holiday

3. Royal Blind’s sister charity is Scottish War Blinded. Together, we operate as the Royal Blind Group. Each organisation has its own management, and both are overseen by the Royal Blind Board and Chief Executive.

Last Updated on 8th November 2019 by Shanice