Date: 26 Aug 2004
Community equipment and adaptions - Keep assessments close to
home, says UNISON
UNISON, the union representing Scotland's Occupational Therapists,
today (Thursday) criticised the Audit Scotland report on the management
of community equipment and adaptions for failing to take into account
the need for proper resources and local needs in its critical look
at the topic.
Occupational Therapists work in both the NHS and local authorities
ensuring that people with long term illness, health problems or
disabilities have the support necessary to continue to live in their
Kirsten Hey, an Occupational Therapist and UNISON activist said
"This report points to a problem with resources in some areas. Care
in the Community and Joint Future are not 'cheap' options and must
be properly funded. We are pleased that staff are appreciated, but
where there are problems it is almost always due to lack of resources
- something that the Audit Scotland report doesn't make clear."
UNISON supports the updating of national guidelines, and supports
the provision of best information, but the union is concerned that
the Audit Commission seems to be suggesting a 'One-size-fits-all'
Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISON's Social Work Issues Group said
"Responsibilities are best allocated to the authority nearest to
the client. Assessing someone being discharged from hospital is
surely best done by staff in the hospital. Assessing someone in
the community is best done by staff working in the community. OTs
work in both. And what is appropriate may vary across the country.
Indeed, the need for a local solution to local problems was built
in to the Joint Future legislation. What suits West Lothian won't
necessarily suit Wester Ross."
UNISON also draws attention to a new problem in this area. Kirsten
Hey points out that new Scottish Executive guidelines mean that
Home Improvement Grants for adaptions to people's houses are now
"For a major adaptation, such as an extension on a house, clients
can be expected to contribute thousands of pounds which can put
it out of reach for many."
She said. "Although the right adaptation can reduce or remove the
need for care packages, and thus save public money."
For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie (Chair
- Soc Wk Issues Gp) 07740 096 864 (m) Kirsten Hey (OT and UNISON
steward) 07771 881615 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer)
0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)