Lynn Breedlove

Scotland Report #1 from Lynn Breedlove

user image 2019-08-13
By: SD Network
Posted in: Self-Direction Worldwide

Scotland Report #1: An International Brainstorming Session of Self-Direction Advocates

-Lynn Breedlove

On August 8, I participated in a half-day brainstorm of 23 self-direction (SD) advocates from 9 countries. It was the first time I’d ever been part of a conversation about what’s happening in self-direction around the world.  I began to get a sense of the potential for a Global Self-Direction Community. Here are a few takeaways:

Insights re Specific Countries

North America

  • Ontario, Canada: Ontario is just beginning to scratch the surface of self-direction (“we have a long way to go”); not much SD activity in other Canadian provinces


  • Scotland: A lot of local control in Scotland: 31 different implementation mechanisms for self-direction (and they’re not always consistent with Scotland’s progressive SD legislation)
  • England: People self-directing in England experienced a 40% cut in funding during the last two years - that led to a lot of disillusionment about self-direction
  • Republic of Ireland: There is only one person with I/DD self-directing in the Republic of Ireland (he and his dad were at the meeting), but a new pilot for 150 people is in the works
  • Northern Ireland: In Northern Ireland, the initial self-direction pilot started out well, but then various local authorities turned it into their own distorted versions of self-direction - that’s been discouraging


  • India: Self-direction is informal in India - it basically involves giving local people a little money and some space to organize, create, and innovate


In Australia, the enabling legislation in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) sounds very progressive but they tried to grow from zero to 460,000 people nationwide in two years - that was way too ambitious and there are lots of implementation problems

Worldwide Key Issues, Concerns and Questions raised by the Group

  • People with disabilities are at risk of having “our lives outsourced to government”
  • The “self-direction brand” is at risk of being corrupted
  • “Paid services should always be supplementary and complementary, and not the meaning of life”
  • “If you do the right thing and do it well, you will almost certainly increase cost-effectiveness”
  • How can we stay true to the spirit/essence of self-direction?
  • How can citizens hold government accountable for doing self-direction right?
  • We need to beware of “neoliberalism” (a tendency to assume free-market capitalism will solve everything)*

*in the context of self-direction, I took this to mean that it would be a mistake to assume that all the supports and services people might need will automatically be available in the marketplace - this is especially a problem in rural areas

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