SPAEN’s CEO, Colin Millar, today issued an open letter to the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport, the Convenor of the Health & Sport Committee, the Convenor of the Cross Party Group on Disability and all MSP’s with the Health brief in the Scottish Parliament calling for a “fundamental review into how Direct Payment recipients in Scotland are represented and supported at national and regional level at the earliest opportunity.”
His call comes on the back of repeated requests for access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Personal Assistant Employers and their PA’s, stating, “the cracks in Scotland’s social care system have been exposed and the lack of any kind of planning or cognisance of how Direct Payment recipients would be supported in such instances has clearly not been considered, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.”
Scottish Government estimates there are currently around 2,200 active PA employers in Scotland today, giving a potential PA workforce of between 4,400 and 6,600 individuals.
SPAEN has been calling on the Scottish Government to ensure these people are given equal priority and access to essential PPE, ensuring they can fully follow the Scottish Government’s own guidelines on safe working in social care settings. The Scottish Government issued an e-mail address and telephone number for people wishing to report issues accessing PPE but SPAEN members are advising their calls are not being taken as they are not “Care Inspectorate” registered and e-mails continue to go “unanswered”.
Some PA employers are being told by their local authority that they will need to source their own PPE.
Colin draws parallels to the urgent care and attention given to other social care workers represented by unions or membership organisations and questions why PA employers are not being afforded the same support and consideration especially given that their right to choose a Direct Payment as a means of meeting their assessed social care needs is protected in law and should have equivalent affect as any of the other Self-directed Support Options.
“We’ve already had to write to the Cabinet Secretary requesting that Personal Assistants be explicitly included in the list of “social care key workers” as initial guidance omitted this, preventing many PA’s from accessing essential childcare or being questioned whether their journey to work was “essential. It seems as though PA employers in particular are being forgotten at each and every turn.”