Self-directed support survey

Iriss.fm, Episode 174
By Iriss
Published on 22 Feb 2017

On 21st February 2017, Iriss.fm spoke to Cathy McGregor and Lorraine Gillies from Audit Scotland about the national self-directed support survey that has been recently circulated.

Audit Scotland is keen to get as many responses as possible before 27 February - stories (positive or negative) of people’s experiences of self-directed support or experiences of supporting someone to use self-directed support. They told us about the current data on self-directed support, aims and content of the survey, responses so far, and the plan for the findings. 

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Want to know more about Iriss' work on self-directed support (SDS)? Visit Pilotlight, an Iriss project focused on creating pathways to self-directed support for people across Scotland.  

Date of recording
Audio transcript

On the 21st of February 2017, IRISS.FM spoke to Cathy McGregor and Lorraine Gillies from Audit Scotland about the National Self-Directed Support survey that has recently been circulated. Audit Scotland are keen to get as many responses as possible before the 27th of February; stories positive or negative of people's experiences of Self-Directed Support or experiences of supporting someone to use Self-Directed Support. They told us about the current data on Self-Directed Support, aims and content of the survey, responses so far and the plan for the findings.

Cathy I'm Cathy McGregor, I'm the audit manager for the audit we're doing on Self-Directed Support.

Lorraine And I'm Lorraine Gillies. I'm senior manager overseeing this piece of work and I'm on secondment with Audit Scotland for 2 years. Substantive post is back in West Lothian Community Planning Partnership.

Cathy Audit Scotland, so we check public money's being spent properly and effectively, that's essentially what we do, but that includes the billions spent on providing health and social care services every year. So that's about us really examining not only how money is being spent, but also whether policies are effectively achieving what they're supposed to do. So it's about the money, but it's about the outcomes as well. So for Self-Directed Support, what we wanted to know really was whether it's helping to achieve better outcomes for people who need support and their carers, and their families. So our report is trying to shine a light on what's working well and what needs to get better. It really is an improvement agenda for us and we do this work on behalf of the Auditor General and Accounts Commission.

Int So this is a National survey then across Scotland, looking at the improvement agenda, and what exactly does the survey really want to know?

Cathy Yeah, I mean so, we're 6 years into the 10-year Self-Directed Support strategy. It's an area that's not new to us. We reported an early progress about 3 years ago and I think that we just felt that it's a good time now to go back in and review progress again. So that we can help with identifying what's wrong, we can identify what's working well, for further improvements are needed and it kind of felt like the right time to do that. So 6 years into a 10-year strategy, you know, things are going well but there are some areas for improvement and we wanted to be able to contribute to that. 

Lorraine And it's a kind of key piece of policy legislation in that, you know, one of the key questions for us is, you know, what impact is Self-Directed Support having on people's lives? I mean that's the million-dollar question really. You know? So that's what we're very keen to find out. The best way for us to find that out is to hear directly from people who have Social Care Support and their carers and their families and for us you know, it's very important that we hear stories about what Self-Directed Support is like for them. We know that some people know it as personalisation rather than Self-Directed Support but it's the same thing and if you've a story to tell, you know, that's what we're very interested in hearing about.

Lorraine An online survey allows us to hear from people across the country. It is a National audit that we're doing. It is about understanding what are the differences for people across the country in rural areas and urban areas, so doing a survey allows us to have that wider reach.

Cathy We want to know what Self-Directed Support's really like for people, from the moment they seek Social Care Support through making choices about how they're supported and about how the support affects their daily lives. So we're asking people what they were told about Self-Directed Support. What did they choose, how did they feel about their support, what difference their support's made to them, and is there anything that they would change about how Self-Directed Support is working? And we're obviously also offering to speak to people directly if that would be easier for them.

Lorraine And I suppose just to say that we're as interested in the experience of family and carers. So if you've supported someone in your family or someone that you've cared for to go through an assessment for Self-Directed Support, we're keen to hear how that, you know, how that went. We've also, as part of our case study work, been really lucky to be able to speak to people. So families who are in receipt of Self-Directed Support and their, you know, and the people that have been supported. And its been very good for us to be able to talk to people about how its impacted on their lives. So a colleague and I were up on the Western Isles on a croft in pretty awful weather in Stornoway, and brilliantly we were able to speak to a lady who was in receipt of Self-Directed Support, but also to her two grown-up daughters who also were able to tell us the difference that Self-Directed Support has made to their lives and for us that's the richness of the stories that we're really keen to hear. So if you've supported someone in that assessment process or you're supporting someone who you, you know, you've maybe been having to work with them, you know, or give them a level of support that's been a struggle for you and Self-Directed Support has enabled you to do other things, those are the sorts of stories we're very keen to hear. 

Lorraine And you know, the opposite, you know, of course applies. You know, we have heard some stories where Self-Directed Support has not been a good experience or assessment has been not good and again, you know, we're very keen to understand that and to hear about that so, very important to us to hear the good stories and the not so good stories. 

Int And are you asking people emm, so are you asking service managers? Are you asking people who work on the frontline or is it more about the stories of people who are affected by Self-Directed Support?

Cathy We're gathering evidence from a range of different sources so we are visiting 5 local authorities. We're also doing focus groups with users and carers. We've spoken to a whole range of organisations in the 3rd sector. We're looking at what other information is already out there including surveys with users and carers. So we're pulling all this information together from providers, local authorities, as well as users and carers to give us a whole picture of what's happening in Self-Directed Support.

Int Okay. And could you say a bit more about across the 5 local authorities, emm implementing policy, is there any interesting findings or any real differences between them?

Cathy Well that's really what we're trying to find out in this audit. In our last audit in 2014 we found quite a variation across the country and, in terms of how local authorities were implementing Self-Directed Support, and we did have, I've got still got quite a lot of work to do at that stage. Since then authorities are facing mounting challenges including pressures on their budgets and an ever-increasing demand for their services and they're also busy integrating health and social care to make them more joined up for people. So there's a lot happening. We're not quite ready to conclude on where we think implementation of Self-Directed Support is at the moment across the country but we will report on that when we publish our report, which is intended for July this year.

Lorraine We've had quite a good response to the survey. So we were going to go to I suppose, gather some information from that. We've had over 80 responses from the survey and that doesn't include you know, the telephone calls we've had, the focus groups we've been running. I think overarchingly, I think what we're saying is as you would expect, you know, some real differences across the country, you know, some differences in challenges. So, every local authority, whether its urban, rural, remote, an island authority, they have their own particular set of challenges and we've been seeing different responses to all of those challenges. I think it would be too early days for us to go into any of the detail about what some of those challenges are but they're things that you would expect, you know, differences around provision, differences around transport and being able to access choices. So I think the overarching picture is really, you know, not a huge surprise in that there are some differences. There are some differences in approaches, some differences in how those challenges are being met. We've seen some really good stories, you know, of some good Self-Directed Support stories. We've also seen some that are not so good. 

Int Do you think awareness is an issue, around Self-Directed Support options?

Cathy That's an interesting one. We generally feel that people are aware of Self-Directed Support in that they've heard of it and they often know what it means for them if they need support. We're not sure yet whether people really understand the full range of choices that may be available to them, and clearly in different areas the choices are not always there. A good example is in rural areas where there may not be a choice of providers, in fact, there may be no provider in some very remote areas, and so we've heard about local authorities seeking to provide quite unique solutions to that sort of problem. We have heard for example in Highland and Perth and Kinross about how they've been trying to work with communities to develop a support service that would suit users that they already know about and we would hope to showcase a couple of these examples in our report but unfortunately we have yet to work out all the details and be able to be accurate about that.

Int (- unclear) my questions here I think. So I had, what will happen with the findings of the survey, but that is basically going to be the report, is it?

Cathy Well it'll contribute to the report, you know, we will take the findings away, we'll analyse them. We'll sort of match that up to other sources of evidence and we'll be able to take a view. So what's important to us about the survey responses is that it'll be about people's stories. This is a not particularly data rich area for us and you know, so the statistics can tell some of the story but what's, you know, what we needed to get to is how people feel about the experience that they've had. So the results of the survey, we will be very interested in what everyone says, we will be interested in every story that we hear and we will use that analysis to kind of, you know, to match it to some of the statistics, some of the information that we've got through, you know, typical forms of, you know, evidence. So, very much this helps us understand the nuances, the small things that make a big difference.

Int So is there a plan to do any sort of video case studying around it or anything, or is it just mostly written stories that you'll?

Cathy Well, we're considering at the moment actually how best to share some of that rich information that we're getting. Our audit report is a relatively short report and it encompasses everything that we're looking at and so it is unlikely to be able to give much space to some really good examples of what we're hearing from the surveys and focus groups and other places, so we're thinking about how best to share that at the same time as publishing our standard audit report.

Lorraine It's an area that we're very interested in looking at though at Audit Scotland. I mean, we're aware that, you know, some of our reports aren't necessarily that readable for people who are affected by the services that we report on, so we've been looking at different ways of getting information out, for example, our health and care illustration piece has been very popular, you know, lots of people have been using that to, you know, to kind of illustrate how they feel about health and care. So it is possible, and we haven't agreed what we'll look at, but it is possible we'll produce some sort of alternative output, you know, something that you know, that just showcases some of the things that we've heard from people, and it might be in the form of an animation, it might be in the form of, we haven't decided but as an organisation we are committed to finding new ways to make sure people are able to access the information that we produce.

Int In terms of the report, will there be any sort of discussions or partnership of other agencies or organisations going forward on the back of your findings from the survey?

Cathy We have involved other organisations right from the start of the audit. We have an audit advisory group which comprises a range of organisations from the Scottish Government, Self-Directed Support Scotland, some 3rd sector organisations, COSLA and the Scottish Local Government Partnership representing local authorities. So we touch base with them as we go through the audit and we take advice from them about whether we're asking the right questions, about where perhaps to seek certain types of evidence, and we also talk to them about our emerging findings and whether we are interpreting what we're seeing correctly and we share a draft report with them and get their comments on that. So we try and keep in touch with quite a wide range of people as we develop the audit and as we interpret the findings. Once we publish the report we'll try and promote that, that'll be in July. Once we publish the report in July we'll try and promote that widely and we are keen to be involved with other organisations and seminars, conferences, workshops, whichever it might be if we can helpfully contribute to these on the back of our audit.

Lorraine I suppose it's also maybe worth saying that we're aware that Self-Directed Support is part of a kind of bigger landscape around empowerment and outcomes and people engaging with services in a different way and that's a landscape that Audit Scotland or other Scrutiny Bodies are really interested in as well. I mean, for us it's been a very interesting piece of work to be doing because we said earlier that there hasn't been, you know, a particularly rich source of data and we have had to, not that we wouldn't want to, speak to a lot of people in terms of building up that story, and that's the kind of thing that we're going to have to do more as we get into the kind of community empowerment landscape, you know, we're going to have to understand experience of people in a different way. So experience of people being involved in setting the direction of travel for the services that they use and they work with. So as part of that, Audit Scotland are considering, you know, how we support that agenda. How do we support, you know, the kind of understanding that we will need to have through talking to people as a very valid form of evidence? So while this is about Self-Directed Support actually, you know, for us it's about a new way of collating evidence and a new way of having conversations that tell a story about the quality of public services. So it kind of fits into a kind of wider framework if you like.

Cathy We are keen to get more responses to our survey. We have over 80 responses so far and we know that other similar surveys have been running and so perhaps people get fed up with filling in surveys but we are reading every response. So we are keen to hear from more people, as many people as possible, and whether that's people who are using services or who have Self-Directed Support or whether it's just somebody, a carer or a family member, or you know somebody who might want to fill it in, it would be great if we could hear from more people.

Lorraine I mean our survey is still live until I think about 27th of February so to access that you just go to our website, that's www.audit-scotland.gov.uk. You can also access it on Twitter, our handle is @AuditScotland, with a capital 'a', capital 's', or just search 'Audit Scotland' on Facebook or Twitter. I think we've been very active on social media and that's been very good for us because we've been able to access maybe a whole bunch of people that we haven't done before. You can get involved in the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag 'MySDSStory' and share the link to the survey with anyone you might know would be interested. I mean, we're interested in hearing personal stories but also, you know, if you have a perception, something that you think is the case, tell us about that as well, that's useful for us. 

Cathy If you want a paper copy of the survey or if you want to speak to us on the phone you can do that as well. We've had lots of conversations with people that have started completing the survey and then thought "oh, do you know what, I just want to speak to someone". So we've had some very good phone conversations. So you can email us at sds@auditscotland, sorry, audit-scotland.gov.uk or phone us on 01316251500. I think what's important to say is that while we're very happy to speak to people, just in terms of keeping expectations, you know, this is about contributing to a report. It's not, you know, something that we can specifically help you out with but there are certain people that can do that and we happy to signpost if we have to do that.

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