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Social Care is a key part of disabled people’s human rights. GDA’s Social Care Expert Group brings together over 100 GDA members together to speak out and share lived experience of needing or using social care, to help make these rights a reality for disabled people in Glasgow and beyond.

What is social care?

Social care is practical support we need to live the lives we want to live and participate in society alongside non – disabled people. This can include home care, personal care, telecare, respite, day services, self-directed support.

Many disabled people need support with daily living – and those of us who do know all too well that our Social Care system is not fit for purpose.

Chronic underfunding worsened by austerity and followed by the global pandemic , has fuelled staff shortages and bureaucracy and resulted in a system that cannot meet our needs today or tomorrow. Simply put, the social care system has eroded our human rights for far too long – leaving too many disabled and older people isolated, in crisis, unable to cope.

illustration of a person in an armchair slumped sadly. behind them the sun is shining through the window and people walk and sit outside. the person's walking frame is just out of their reach.

Our Care, Our Rights, Our Voices

Local and national conversations around social care are better informed when disabled people’s voices are heard, valued and amplified.

Through our Future Visions project and Social Care Expert Group, GDA has been working with the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, and wider partners across Scotland – to amplify disabled people’s voices and lived experience to shape a better Social Care system that upholds our rights to Independent Living.

GDA are currently working with the Scottish Government and wider partners across Scotland to create the National Care Service, embedding lived experience and a human rights approach to social care as an investment in disabled people and in wider society.

“Independence is not about doing everything by yourself. It’s about having the support you need to live your life with the same freedom, choice and control that non-disabled people enjoy.”

– GDA Social Care Expert Group member

Independent Living – enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – means disabled people having the same freedom, dignity, choice and control over our lives as non-disabled people. Disabling barriers all around us stop us enjoying these rights equally – and those of us with social care needs are all too often being denied basic freedom, dignity, choice and control over our lives.

The Self-Directed Support Act (2013) says that anyone who uses social care support services should have choice and control over the support they receive. But too many disabled people still find their lives restricted and curtailed by services and budgets which do not recognise or meet their needs, and fail to provide the choice and control promised in the SDS Act.

GDA Social Care Expert Group Post it Notes from Hybrid Meeting, Aug 2022.

Learning from Lived Experience

“I get two short care visits each day, so I can’t go to the bathroom the rest of the time. If I need the loo in between visits, I have to use the pads. I can’t change them myself so I have to sit in my own mess until the carer comes back in the evening.”

“The only slot the agency could give me is 5.30pm. I’m a grown woman, getting put to bed earlier than my grandkids, because it suits the care company. I couldn’t get a morning slot before 10.30 – I wanted to join a local community group but my care package does not allow me to get out the house on time.”

“When I left school I was offered a place at college – but I couldn’t take it. They said when I needed to go to the toilet I’d have to call my dad to come up and help me. He would have had to quit his job just so I’d be able to go to the toilet in between my classes like everyone else my age can do without worrying about it!”

GDA’s Social Care Expert Group brings disabled people together to share their experiences of using or needing social care: what life can be like when it works well – and where things break down, what desperately needs to change.

A member in a GDA t-shirt passes a cup to another member at a Drivers for Change meeting
GDA Social Care Expert Group peer support session – Photo by Robert Perry

Through peer support and capacity building activities, our Expert Group build confidence to know their rights, and speak out when these are not being met. Our Expert Group are supported to take part and contribute their lived experience and voices to influence Social Care policy and decision making in Glasgow and at the Scottish Government level through the National Reform Programme.

From 2018 our Expert Group has helped shape the National Reform Programme on Adult Social Care, working alongside Inclusion Scotland’s People Led Policy Panel to bring the unique, in-depth experience and expertise of disabled people driving change at the local authority level, in Scotland’s biggest city with some of the highest levels of social care needs in the country.

GDA’s Expert Group played a key role in Derek Feely’s Independent Review of Social Care, and are currently working to feed their lived experience and social care expertise into the creation of the National Care Service in Scotland.

Through sharing extensive lived experience of the Social Care Crisis and its impacts on our lives before and during the pandemic – and emphasising the need for disabled people’s voices to have power and influence from top to bottom of a new, improved Social Care system.

Amplifying disabled people’s voices is crucial in order to see the change we want and need in social care to protect our human rights as disabled people.

If you are interested in hearing more about GDA’s Social Care Expert Group, get in touch! [email protected]