Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP has announced an immediate review of adult social care in Scotland as part of the Scottish Government’s priorities for the coming year. Hospice UK’s Policy and Advocacy Manager for Scotland Helen Malo, explains what the review will look at.
Scotland’s review of adult social care will identify areas for immediate improvement and also examine and set out options for a ‘National Care Service’ for Scotland. Other commitments, outlined in Scotland’s Programme for Government 2020-21, include remobilising NHS services in the wake of COVID-19, a renewed focus on tackling health inequalities, more support for mental health and support for unpaid carers.
Review of adult social care
The independent review of adult social care is already underway and is ambitious in its scope and timescales. Reporting in January 2021, it will consider and make recommendations on:
- The needs, rights and preferences of people who use services, carers and families
- The experience of people who work in social care, including their employment arrangements, and opportunities for training and progression
- Arrangements for funding, governance, ownership, administration and delivery of social care services
- How people using services are meaningfully involved, including self-directed support
- Regulation, scrutiny and quality improvement of social care
- The role of local communities in supporting people to live as well and as independently as possible
- How social care interacts with other services, including health, housing, education and employment
- Opportunities to redesign the overall system of social care to improve people’s experience of care
The review is chaired by Derek Feeley, former Scottish Government Director General for Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland. He is supported by an Advisory Panelof experts from Scotland and further afield, including Ian Welsh, Chief Executive of the Alliance, and Jim Elder-Woodward, Chair of the Scottish Independent Living Coalition.
Will the review consider people with palliative care needs and their carers?
At the Alliance Scotland conference on 11 September, Derek Feeley confirmed that palliative and end of life care would be looked at as part of the review. He acknowledged that the voices of people at the end of life haven’t always been heard and the review will need to be “humble and curious in hearing the voices of those who are at the end, are coming towards the end of life, or caring for people who are coming towards the end of life”.
He has also made clear that, though the Advisory Panel doesn’t include specific representation from unpaid carers, he will “personally prioritise engaging with unpaid carers” as part of the review.
What else is in the Programme for Scottish Government?
Health and wellbeing: The Scottish Government’s key priority is to remobilise the NHS to safely deliver as many of its normal services as possible, while ensuring there is capacity to deal with the continuing presence of Covid-19, and preparing for approaching winter pressures.
As part of this, the Scottish Government will be publishing a cancer recovery plan in autumn 2020. It will also accelerate the transition to a new model of community NHS care to improve access to community based health services, helping people manage their conditions and get treatments closer to home. This is being done through the launch of Pharmacy First, accelerating the rollout of Community Treatment and Assessment Centres, and through existing COVID-19 hubs.
There will be a renewed focus on population health and tackling health inequalities, in the coming year. Scottish Government has committed to improving the collection and use of health data from people who are from minority ethnic backgrounds, to ensure the public health response is properly focused. It will also try to reduce barriers that older people face when accessing health and social care services.
Support for carers: The programme for Government recognises the vital role of unpaid carers, stating: “our health and social care systems would be unsustainable without that support, and we could not have got through the pandemic without them”.
The Scottish Government has committed to work with carers services to increase their capacity and share learning across settings. £11.6 million will be provided to local authorities to deliver carers services this year as part of the ongoing implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act. There will also be a national campaign to support people to identify themselves as carers, access support and know their rights under the Carers (Scotland) Act.
Digital care: The Scottish Government has said it will scale up access to digital care, with the aim that health and care consultations are provided by NHS ‘Near Me’ virtual consultations or telephone, wherever this is possible. Developing digital care services within care homes will be an initial priority.
Mental health: The Programme for Government has a strong focus on mental health, grief and trauma in relation to Covid-19. The Scottish Government is planning to publish a Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan this autumn. There will be more mental health and wellbeing support for health and social care staff, including a Workforce Specialist Service, which will provide confidential assessment and treatment for mental ill health. The Scottish Government will also work with carer representative bodies to understand and respond to the mental health impacts of Covid-19 and lockdown on carers.
Third sector: The Programme for Government has made clear that a “thriving third sector” is vital to Scotland and recognises the key role of the sector during the pandemic. Part of the Scottish Government’s Communities Fund will be refocused into a £25 million Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme. This will include business support and investment to help organisations adapt their operations and income generation to increase sustainability.