My name is Laura and I work for Alzheimer Scotland. I passionately believe that people living with dementia have the right to live well after a diagnosis and should get the right support, at that right time, to help them do that.

My job is about helping people living with dementia, family members and carers when they are thinking about accessing formal social care to support them. This can be a difficult time for people and the decision can be tied up with lots of emotions.  Social work can feel like a whole new system to get your head round and you might never have had any contact with them before.

I provide reassurance and information to people about what they should expect when they work with social workers and access support.

There have been some big changes in the legislation about social care recently.  These changes mean people are meant to get much more say in the support they get.  It should never be the case that a social worker offers you one thing, like home care for example, and you are just expected to take it.  It is your legal right to make a choice and a social worker’s legal duty to listen to what you want.

There should be much more flexibility in planning support now too. If you don’t like the sound of a day centre and would prefer to do the things that are normal in your life, but maybe with some help, then you should get the opportunity to say that and your social worker should listen and help you plan support that helps to make that happen.

These changes to the legislation are called Self-Directed Support.  Although the changes are starting to happen, they aren’t happening as fast as we’d like.  That is why it is important to let you know that you have a right to make choices and to encourage you to speak up if you don’t think that is happening.

This isn’t always easy to do. I can provide support to some people but there are lots of other people and organisations across Scotland who can help. The help and advice they offer can be invaluable and I would encourage you to look into it.  You can search here to find out more.  www.sdsinfo.org.uk/search/

You might not feel like you are ready for support yet but I would still urge you to think about it now.  It’s better to think of ideas and make plans when you are doing well, much better than after a crisis. Think about the things that matter to you and the things that help you feel like you and go from there. Best of luck!

Laura Finnan Cowan is Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager. Please feel free to get in touch with Laura if you would like to know more. lfinnancowan@alzscot.org

@Lafinnco

As Alzheimer Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Manager, Laura’s job is to help make it easier for people living with dementia to access Self-Directed Support.  Laura can support individual enquiries, give talks and info sessions about Self-Directed Support to groups and provide advice and training to professionals.