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Thursday, 11 January 2018

New survey highlights extent of home care fragility in Scotland

Written by The Editorial Team

A fresh warning has been issued to national and local government about the consequences of failing to support home care services across Scotland.

Scottish Care, the representative body for independent providers of social care, is calling for a renewed approach to supporting and funding care at home services in 2018 to prevent the collapse of the sector, which would have a huge impact on many of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens.

The warning comes on the back of new survey data published by Scottish Care today which shows that:

  • Nearly 40% of care at home services handed work back to Local Authorities in 2017 on the basis of sustainability and capacity
  • Half of home care services did not apply for contracts offered by their Local Authority in 2017 on the same grounds
  • 86% of home care services are concerned about their sustainability and survival in 2018, with nearly a quarter extremely concerned

The responses to the survey, which was undertaken in the week before Christmas, represents nearly 6,000 home care staff delivering 133,000 hours of care to over 12,000 people per week.

Scottish Care’s Executive and National Committees will meet today in Glasgow to discuss these findings and their implications for the ongoing care of adults and older people in their own homes.

Speaking ahead of this meeting, Scottish Care CEO, Dr Donald Macaskill (pictured), said: “Unfortunately, these findings only serve to consolidate what we already know and what we have been telling Scottish Government, Health & Social Care Partnerships and commissioners throughout 2017.

“We are not crying wolf when we stress the precarious nature of home care in the current climate, with the results of this survey emphasising how genuinely close to collapse we are in Scotland.

“It shows that half of the services we represent feel unable to compete for contracts because the rates and conditions at which they are set by Local Authority make the delivery of dignified care impossible to sustain. And of those who do try to make it work, 40% are forced to hand that work back because it is not viable to continue operating.

“It means we have a huge number of home care services willing and able to provide high quality care in people’s own homes but who are stifled from doing so by a drive to the bottom by Local Authorities in terms of pay and conditions offered to those services delivering that care. The inability of services to recruit and retain staff and to pay them a good wage further cripples these essential services. We are faced with a reality where a quarter of services are not sure they will still be operating this time next year.

“The present crisis being faced by the NHS is being made much worse by the failure to integrate properly, and to dedicate equal resource and focus to social care. We can no longer tinker around the edges of social care – the challenge needs to be grasped with both hands and driven forward by a political will to ensure there are a range of high quality, sustainable services available in people’s communities which also offer attractive careers for the 1 in 13 Scots who are employed in social care.

“If this doesn’t happen now, the consequences are enormous for health and social care, for the economy, for jobs and most importantly, for the tens of thousands of individuals and families who rely on this type of support.

“It is all very well to join up health and social care systems on paper and as structures. But real partnership which puts people at the centre needs to be worked at not just spoken about. We need to work very hard in 2018 to ensure we still have a social care system able to care for our vulnerable older citizens. At the moment this survey suggests that there are worrying signs that we will not.”

To read the full report, click here.