A consultation has been launched to seek the public’s views ahead of the creation of a National Care Service, which will ensure everyone who needs it can expect the same standards of care, wherever they live in Scotland.
The National Care Service will deliver person-centred care that supports people in a way that suits their needs, providing real benefits for those who are being cared for and the people who care for them. It will introduce ethical commissioning, based on fair work principles, for the benefit of everyone involved.
The consultation sets out some of the options for delivering social care in a way which changes the system from one that supports people to survive to one that empowers them to thrive. It recognises that this will involve significant cultural and system change that will need to be supported by new laws, and new ways of working.
In order to deliver these recommendations there will continue to be strong local accountability. The consultation proposes Community Health and Social Care Boards to strengthen the voice of the local population, with people with lived experience and local elected members sitting alongside professionals.
Consulting on the proposals was one of the commitments for the first 100 days of this government. Implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, and the establishment of a National Care Service, will be one of the most significant tasks of the current parliament.
At a minimum the new National Care Service will cover adult social care services. However, the consultation document also recognises that if we want to build a comprehensive community health and social care system, we should consider extending its scope to other groups such as children and young people, community justice, alcohol and drug services, and social work.
Minister for Social Care Kevin Stewart said:
“The importance of our social care services has never been clearer. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our nation’s carers, paid and unpaid, for the commitment and compassion we have seen throughout the pandemic.
“The Scottish Government commissioned the Independent Review of Adult Social Care during the pandemic, because it was clear we needed to do things better in future.
“We have already made significant improvements, with reforms such as the integration of health and social care, and implementation of the Real Living Wage Policy for Adult Social Care workers and this year the Scottish Government pledged £64.5m to fully fund the pay increase. But we can go further. What we are now proposing is the biggest public sector reform for decades, since the creation of the National Health Service.
“I am committed to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Review and staying true to the spirit of that report by building a system with human rights at the heart of it.
“The Review recommended the creation of a National Care Service, with Scottish Ministers being accountable for adult social care support. I believe however that it is right for this consultation to look beyond simply the creation of a national service for adult social care. The ambition of this government is to go much further, and to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that supports people of all ages. We are also committed to a ensuring there is strong local accountability in the system.
“Absolutely vital to this is ensuring that our invaluable social care workforce feel happy, respected and fulfilled in their role.
“We are at the beginning of a journey to improve social care in Scotland. We will only get this right with your support. I want to hear from as many people and organisations as possible over the next couple of months, so we can build a better system together.”
In a statement, the Social Covenant Steering Group which will advise on the creation of a National Care Service, said:
“Most of us have waited many years to see plans for major improvements in the way social care support is delivered and we welcome the publication of this consultation.
“Many people may feel they have been consulted before and are keen to see some action. But this time it is an important legal step in in order that a bill can be put to Parliament.
“So, it is important that as many people as possible including; current users of social care support, unpaid carers, the workforce and everyone else who cares about this vital support will take this opportunity to express their views on the kind of system we need to enable everyone to reach their potential.”