Delivering ‘Self-Directed Support’ (SDS) in the context of integration: How can technology help?

By Servelec, one of Social Work Scotland’s sponsors

‘Self-directed Support’ aims to give people, carers and families control over their care by allowing them to make informed choices on what their support plan looks like, and how it is delivered. It enables them to decide on how to set their own care outcomes, and shaping the budget for how their care is allocated, thereby enhancing their sense of independence.

But there have been obstacles in the way to achieving this admirable vision. Among these has been the parallel and all-encompassing agenda of health and social care integration. In research commissioned by the Coalition of Care Providers Scotland, and carried out by the University of Strathclyde, the authors note that “broader restructuring within organisations, compliance with other legislative agenda (notably the integration of health and social care), and the impact of reduced budgets in shifting needs of local populations, especially older people” have all presented barriers to implementation.

Integration: help or hindrance?

In respect of health and social care integration, the concern is that amongst the changes to budget responsibility involved, and the structural adaptations necessary to build effective partnerships, SDS has become less of a priority; and even practically more difficult to deliver. But integration and SDS have the same goal at heart: to improve the range and quality of services, as well as increasing people’s ownership and control of their care to improve outcomes. Why should it be that one becomes an obstacle of achieving the other?

From Servelec’s work in Scotland, it looks like part of the answer is to question the use of technology. Professionals and the public are frustrated at the lack of connections between computer systems, preventing the kind of joined up care, planning, and service delivery they all want. Finding ways in which data can be easily and safely shared between systems, such as hospitals and social care providers, assessments and care management can become integrated, and individuals are able to genuinely take more control of the support they receive. While different aspects of their care sit in different IT silos, reliant on individual professionals to bring it all together, not only are organisations becoming more inefficient, they are also limiting people’s right to self-directed support.

Finding a solution

A number of councils in Scotland are already using Servelec’s social care digital case management system Mosaic. We’re now actively working with them to integrate social care case management information with incorporated health systems, improving data sharing for the benefit of service users.

By providing case management on a single platform, a system like Mosaic can significantly improve the day-to-day workflows of frontline staff, freeing up the resources (of money, data and time), which approaches like SDS demand. We’re eager to work with our partners in the public sector to make integration work at all levels, not just the strategic, by bringing services together around individuals and families to create an unbroken unified process. If you’re keen to find out more about what Mosaic can offer, or about our work in Scotland more generally, please contact socialcare@servelec.co.uk.