Thursday, 8 March 2012

‘Is personalisation just cover for cuts?’ UNISON asks at carers conference

Date: 08 March 2012
People are concerned and angry about Glasgow Council using personalisation of care services as cover for budget cuts - rather than empowering users and carers, according to Scotland’s main public services union.

UNISON Scotland along with the Social Work Action Network and Defend Glasgow Services, is running a community conference on Saturday 10 March in Glasgow to debate and expose the problems and issues vulnerable people are facing with personalisation. The union argues the Glasgow model could undermine the whole concept if left unchallenged.

Cheryl McCormick, a care worker and UNISON steward, said:
"We were told personalisation was meant to be about giving service users more choice and control over their support. However of almost everyone involved so far it has been about cuts and loss of support and choice. Those who have been through the personalisation process thus far have lost much of the support they used to receive. They are now having to share their support with others - not out of choice but because otherwise they wouldn't have any support for the hours that they need it.

"Some have been left to attend under-resourced day centres where there aren't enough staff for them to go out during the day. So they are left indoors all day either watching TV or left to draw pictures. This is not about providing any quality of life for people or integrating them in the community - but providing support by the cheapest possible means.

Mandy McDowall, UNISON Regional Organiser, said:
“Personalisation of services is a vital issue happening right now in our communities and there is lots of concern and anger about the effects on people. Glasgow really needs to get things right with personalisation before it rolls it out further.

"UNISON believes that the personalisation and transformation of social care has been introduced without adequate funding, with the focus being on reducing the cost of supporting individuals and reducing the proportion of provision in the public sector and potentially the voluntary sector.

"This is incompatible with maintaining the quality of care provision. If we let the Glasgow model go forward unchallenged then it will set a precedent to other authorities. This will undermine the whole concept of personalisation.

"It doesn’t have to be like this. Personalisation can and should be introduced with adequate funding and safeguards for staff. "

Cheryl McCormick said:
“For those of us who work in the sector we now face constant job insecurity, reductions in hours, terms and conditions and in many cases pay too. Many support staff now have increased workload as they are to support more people with less time. On top of this the budget that many individuals are now getting are not just insufficient just for providing the support that they need, but also for providing the training that they need their staff to have.

“When we have raised concerns about health and safety issues that this may present we have been told just to get on with it! Many of us feel that this is just an accident waiting to happen.”

The conference on Saturday will allow service users, their families, carers and support workers to come together and discuss what personalisation should mean for the future of those who need support within the community.

Note to editors
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union with over 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland, and represents staff in caring and support services across the local government, community, voluntary and health sectors.

2. The Glasgow Personalisation Conference will take place on Saturday 10 March 2012 from 10.00am - 2.00pm at UNISON Glasgow City Branch, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow, G1 1LQ

It is organised by UNISON Scotland, Social Work Action Network and Defend Glasgow Services. See flyer here on our website –

3. The Personalisation conference is bringing together the Glasgow community to discuss what personalisation has meant for them and UNISON will be seeking:

A better assessment process for those with complex needs;
better engagement with service users and their families;
support to give people real control over their budget for those who wish it;
ensure all support staff paid the living wage (= £7.20 per hour) as a minimum;
support for new employers (service users) to fulfil their role fully and lawfully;
ensure all employment rights are met.

The conference aims to set a vision for what the Glasgow community wants from personalisation ensuring that those who wish to remain with local authority services do so - and that those who choose elsewhere are funded and supported fully.

3. UNISON Scotland has supported this broad alliance of service users, families and workers in publication of a document 'Personalisation - The facts' - also available to download on our website


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