Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland
Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland

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Foundations for self-directed support in Scotland

5.4 Self-directed support and the workforce

Activity 5.2 What changes are needed?

Timing: (20 minutes)

This activity invites you to think about the impact of an increasing shift towards personalisation through self-directed support in Scotland. Section 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] explored some of the challenges involved for practitioners and organisations: structural, cultural and financial. In this section you have heard the panel contributing their ideas about what needs to happen to make personalisation work in practice.

The statements below are drawn from the findings of research about personalisation and the perspectives of different groups, such as service users, carers, unions, practitioners and employers. Select statements from the drop-down lists below to create a ‘to do list’ of the changes that need to happen to move towards personalisation through self-directed support in Scotland. When you have finished the exercise, the statement at the top of your list (1) will be the change that you think is the most important change that needs to happen, and the statement at the bottom (9) will be the change that you think is least important. There is no one ‘right’ answer – your answers are likely to depend on your role (e.g. as service user, parent, manager, practitioner, personal assistant ) and your particular interests and concerns.

This element is no longer supported and cannot be used.

These are just some examples of possible changes: are there any other changes you can think of? How easy or difficult do you think it will be to meet the challenges that you have prioritised? Use your learning log to record your reflections.


There is, as we have identified, no correct answer to this activity. Your response will depend on your role and your experience. For example, if, as a service user, you have felt that it was hard to obtain accessible information about options for your support, you may well have ranked this change first. If you are a social worker or a personal assistant concerned about the availability of learning opportunities to equip you for new roles, then you will have ranked training as one of your most important priorities.

The Association of Directors of Social Work in Scotland (ADSW) has said that it sees personalisation as:

…an exciting opportunity to re engage with communities, seeking solutions together. Workforce development will be an essential element in the successful implementation of a personalised approach and the activity should take place at both local and national level, involving all services and sectors.

(ADSW, 2009, p. 10)

However, ADSW also said that creating a new and more productive relationship with the service user will require organisations to make major changes in their culture and to take an active part in effectively managing change. These changes, they said, may involve shifts in the role, approach and location of social services staff, who will have to ‘effectively balance the roles of enabling choice and managing finite resources within an environment of raised expectations’ (ADSW, 2009, p. 10). Musselbrook (2013) suggests that one of the biggest changes required will be a move towards a more relationship-based approach to care, including developing skills in listening and communication, both fundamental to service users and professionals working in a more equal and outcomes-based way together ( Section 2 ).

Changing attitudes and values and cultural change in organisations are interlinked outcomes. Both are usually more demanding - and take longer - than some of the other changes listed here, such as delivering training to the workforce. At the same time, that training provides an opportunity to begin to change attitudes and values, and contribute to cultural change. As you have probably noticed, it's difficult to separate out the different changes required - they are all necessary if the workforce is to make personalisation a reality.

Successfully implementing personalisation requires us all to think in quite a different way about what we mean by 'the workforce’. ADSW has said that workforce development strategies must:

…extend beyond Scotland’s 164,000 paid social services staff to include the 500,000 unpaid carers, particularly those people who care over 50 hours a week, and a further 60,000 people caring for 20–49 hours per week .

(ADSW, 2009, p. 10)

Unpaid carers include parents of children with disabilities, young carers, partners, friends and adult children. We will need to think much more broadly about how care and support is provided, about the role of families and communities as well as members of the workforce. This raises all sorts of questions about the capacity of communities to take on this role, particularly when numbers of older people are rising, individuals are increasingly mobile and geographically scattered, and there are fewer younger people to provide support to an aging population.

There is a lot to think about, and inevitably change brings with it uncertainty and concern the quality of services and about jobs. We now move on to think about some of the fears expressed by the workforce and health and social care organisations.


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