The right to read: the freedom of words

I have been thinking a lot about words this week. Our whole lives are dominated by our ability to communicate. Whether digitally or in the non-digital world our ability to belong and to find a place in modern society is for many conditioned by the extent to which they are comfortable with words, writing and language. For those who struggle with words, whether because of disability or any other reason, our dependency upon words can be a very real struggle. But there are also countless millions whose inability to use words and specifically to be able to read or write puts them at an acute disadvantage.

I have probably reached a stage in life in which I am comfortable with words and language and even enjoy the experience, not least as I have reflected in this blog before in the use of words in poetry and in literature. It was not always thus. As someone whose first language was not English but rather a strange mixture of twin-speak and Gaelic, I initially struggled both with spoken English and most certainly with written English. Years of attending Speech and Language therapy gave me the confidence to be able to ‘speak’ and to write. As well as that more formal support, I was also fortunate to have had in my life a rather indomitable ex-headteacher who I had as a Hebridean great aunt. I still remember and have somewhere lost in my belongings the letters I wrote to her as a child on an almost fortnightly basis and having said letters returned ‘corrected’ in red ink but with the added bonus of some money to spend! I’m not quite sure what was the greater motivator – the improving English or the purchase power of a few pennies!

This coming week contains two days which are focussed on both the enjoyment which words can bring but also the challenge of not being able to be comfortable in a world of words.

The first of these days is Tuesday which is this year as every September 6th Read a Book Day. It is an annual awareness day that encourages all of us to take a break and get reading, ‘either curled up on the sofa or with family and friends.’ It is designed to encourage both the old and the new reader to discover or re-discover the joys which can come from reading. The best novels and works of fiction help to stretch our horizons to worlds beyond our experience and take us on journeys of the imagination into realms of thought and mind, discovery and delight, which we could have previously not thought of.

In these hectic and challenging times, it is for many people a very necessary escape to slow the rhythm of the day and to be able to read. But of course, in times of real economic challenge and constraint buying a book or purchasing a download may be the last thing on someone’s mind or budget. It was a sad indication of the pandemic the number of libraries that had to reduce hours and have shut down or not re-opened. Scotland has had a long tradition of enabling the gift of reading to be something experienced by all through our national Library system free at the point of use. It is to the impoverishment of communities, our children and adults, and our wider aspirations as a society if the ability of people to ‘read a book’ becomes limited to those who can afford to do so. There are especial benefits to older people in being supported to continue reading ( not least as visual impairments develop), and amongst these are the ability reading frequently gives to an individual to keep memory active, help to increase focus and concentration and the evidence that frequent reading slows cognitive decline such as dementia. The availability of reading opportunities is a matter of public health not leisure priority.

The second day which in the coming week touches on these issues is International Literacy Day, which is celebrated on the 8th September, and which under the auspices of the UN has been going for over 50 years. Illiteracy remains a global problem and it is estimated that there are more than 750 million adults around the world who cannot read. But it is an issue which is right around the corner on our own doorstep in Scotland.

According to a major study:

  • 3% of the Scottish working age population have a level of literacies that is recognised internationally as appropriate for a contemporary society;
  • around one quarter of the Scottish population (26.7%) may face occasional challenges and constrained opportunities due to their literacies difficulties, but will generally cope with their day-to-day lives; and
  • within this quarter of the population, 3.6% (one person in 28) face serious challenges in their literacies practices.

(see a fuller report at BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT – Adult Literacies in Scotland 2020: Strategic guidance – gov.scot (www.gov.scot) )

Illiteracy is something that bedevils so many people and limits their ability to contribute, participate and engage as full citizens of our communities. As the UN states not being able to read a prescription bottle, or a road sign, a menu in a restaurant, a voting ballot or the instructions on an item of food – are all activities which cause both harm and limitation. It is not for nothing that literacy is deemed internationally to be a human right.

To be able to read grants individual freedom, to be denied the opportunity of literacy by a lack of focus or priority in any society removes the ability to be a free citizen in any community. So as those of us fortunate to read grab a chance to do just that this week, perhaps with children or grandchildren, friends and partners, then let us all strive to ensure that it is a gift shared with all around us.

The so-called American ‘People’s Poet’ Edgar Albert Guest who championed literacy and the ability to read, sums it up well:

‘Good books are friendly things to own.

If you are busy they will wait.

They will not call you on the phone

Or wake you if the hour is late.

They stand together row by row,

Upon the low shelf or the high.

But if you’re lonesome this you know:

You have a friend or two nearby.

 

The fellowship of books is real.

They’re never noisy when you’re still.

They won’t disturb you at your meal.

They’ll comfort you when you are ill.

The lonesome hours they’ll always share.

When slighted they will not complain.

And though for them you’ve ceased to care

Your constant friends they’ll still remain.

 

Good books your faults will never see

Or tell about them round the town.

If you would have their company

You merely have to take them down.

They’ll help you pass the time away,

They’ll counsel give if that you need.

He has true friends for night and day

Who has a few good books to read.’

 

Edgar Albert Guest https://allpoetry.com/Good-Books

 

Donald Macaskill

Homecare Day & Light Up for Carers 2022 – 22 September

Homecare Day

Homecare Day will be held on Thursday 22 September 2022. 

This is a largely online event which looks to celebrate and recognise the homecare services across the UK. Whether you are a provider, worker or partner, we would love to hear your positive good-news stories about the care at home/housing support sector.

The theme of Homecare Day is ‘Homecare Voices’ with the aim to:

  • Listen to the voices of care at home & house supporting staff, providers, managers, service users and relatives.
  • Showcase the expertise of the homecare workforce, and how they should be valued more.
  • Highlight how homecare plays a crucial role in the health and social care system and within their communities.

You can help us commemorate the day by sharing any good news stories, resources, projects, blogs or an example of an innovative practice on social media.

Please use the hashtags below when sharing content, and  will re-share from the Scottish Care account.

#homecareday22
#homecarevoices

If you aren’t on social media, please feel free to share any stories with us at [email protected].

We will be creating some resources for members to use on Homecare Day, these will be sent out in the next weeks.

Light Up for Carers

The Partners for Integration team, along with Scottish Care, will be marking ‘Homecare Day’ by lighting up buildings in Scotland to give thanks to the homecare and social care workforce.

A full list of buildings involved in this initiative will be sent out closer to the time.

The buildings will be lit up in the colour yellow, which was chosen to symbolise the flame of a candle, much like our ‘Candle for Care’ campaign on Twitter.

The homecare sector shows us caring, resilience and compassion at its best. Yet this workforce is often undervalued and not recognised. This workforce deserves recognition for their dedication and professionalism every day of the week, regardless of weather, risk or fear.

This is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the social care workforce and we encourage care home workers to join the celebration at these buildings on the evening of Thursday 22 September.


More details to follow.

The glamorisation of poverty: a dangerous delusion- a thought piece

Like many people of my generation, I have always feared or at least been anxious about poverty. Memories of lack rather than emptiness have conditioned me as the first of my family to go to university to always have a desire to look over my shoulder to see the past story of family poverty coming up on the inside lane. Professionally I have seen and witnessed first-hand the demeaning and devastating effects of poverty. It comes in all sorts of sordid shapes; the inability to put food on the table which is nutritious and healthy; the indignity of having to borrow money or get the shopping on the ‘tick’; the rented room with the constant air of damp that infiltrates everything and leads to avoidable asthma; the parents struggling to get the ‘right’ Christmas present for their wee one so that they don’t become the object of bullying on their return to school; the holidays not experienced, the birthday parties not held; the continual drip drip of debt and borrowing; the pensioner whose savings are to bury them and who sits shivering in front of a one bar electric fire to say nothing of all the countless lives drowning in the false illusory escape of alcohol and drugs. I’ve seen them all and I’ve also seen the subtle poverty that might not even call itself such. The poverty that is one of limited ambition and silenced perspective – don’t seek to contribute or achieve because you went to the ‘wrong school’ have the ‘wrong’ accent or simply don’t wear the ‘right’ clothes and conduct yourself in the ‘right’ way. The poverty of “I know where you came from and nothing worthy has ever come from there.” Poverty of opportunity, access and aspiration can and is just as sapping of hope as poverty in its traditional sense.

It has therefore been with a degree of more than self-interest that I’ve been watching the media portrayal of the current cost of living challenges facing our society. I have become concerned and irritated by what I would call the glamorisation or acceptability of poverty and its effects. Now I accept there is and always has been a fine balance between stigmatising poverty and romanticising or validating it.

There is nothing new in this. For every example of modern ‘slum tourism’ there have been antecedents not least with the Victorians who were masters at the hypocrisy of poverty. On the one hand they held guided tours to allow the rich to ogle at the mentally ill of the Bedlam asylum and on the other they tried to address the horrors of child labour in factory and field. They painted paintings of elegiac beauty about Highlanders being cast out into the snow but perpetuated the brutal clearances of people in the name of mutton progress.

More recently social commentators have coined the phrase ‘poverty chic’ as a catchall phrase for the growing cultural tendency of using poverty as a vehicle for inspiration, idea or design. It is a phenomenon most commented upon in relation to American popular culture, but it also has its expressions closer to home. If you are interested in exploring these ideas further, I’d recommend the writing of the blogger Stacy Lee Kong. She has reviewed the hugely popular work of Justin Bieber and his album ‘Hold On’ and argues how it is illustrative of poverty chic. She concludes: (and I would suggest this resonates with some contemporary British song writing):

‘It’s clear what Bieber and his collaborator on these videos, director Colin Tilley, are trying to do here. Their goal is to make some unspecified statement about precarious work, affordable housing, the high cost of healthcare in America and/or poverty in general, which is an admirable desire, I guess. But in practice, these videos feature Bieber and a bunch of other actors pretending to be members of America’s downtrodden in order to tell a love story and to project some sort of nobility and honour onto “simple” lives. There’s no actual engagement with the systemic reasons why hard, dirty jobs are often the only option for young people in North America, or why so many young, and particularly racialized, women don’t have access to healthcare. And okay, maybe that’s a lot to ask of a music video. But without that context, what’s the final message of “Holy,” really? That people experiencing poverty and homelessness can depend on the kindness of strangers? That love overcomes all? These are glib platitudes, not reality.’

Of course, she is absolutely right. The glamorisation of poverty is a perversion of painful reality. When art and fashion curate poverty into a new aesthetic for clothing or interior design; when philosophies and belief systems elevate the poor as being somehow especially worthy or when creativity and genius are portrayed as the fruit of suffering and economic want then we have perversely lost our moral compass.

Bringing things back to the present – what has recently concerned me as along with others I have sought in blogs and in the media to highlight the dangers of energy and cost of living poverty – is the possibility of a new subtle version of poverty chic beginning to appear in our media. At times it smacks to me of the stench of bread and circuses.

So this past while I have begun to read many stories about how we can survive poverty or the challenges ahead. I read a Daily Telegraph story of the benefits of hunger and intermittent fasting appearing on the 16th August. Then the next day I came across a story in the Express about how mouldy food was perfectly okay to eat. Then just a few days ago on the 23rd August the Mirror carried an article entitled ‘I went shopping for Asda’s Just Essentials range and couldn’t believe what £10 got me’ – at least in its text it noted the risk of stigma and impact. Along the same lines we have had some articles stating that waking up with ice on the inside of the windows in winter as you were growing up wasn’t all that bad indeed it was character forming! Delusions which ignore the generations who grew up with respiratory conditions!

What is going on here? Am I being over-sensitive about the sudden growth in articles and commentary which might be arguably said to be asking us to accept the inevitability of less, the reality of restriction, of poorer food quality, greater want and poverty?

The acceptance of poverty as inevitable, the willingness to concede that it is a given that people will die because of an economic down turn or an energy crisis, the collaterising of life is a moral and political trap we would do well to call out and avoid where ever we see it.

Those who are living through and who have known poverty know it is an experience and pain not ultimately worthy of art or creativity, design or aesthetic, but rather demanding of action, solidarity, re-orientation and change. Don’t be deluded into thinking poverty is either romantic, glamorous or inevitable.

The brilliant poet Edwin Morgan who regular readers will know I much admire sums it up well. The air of poverty is one too raw to breathe or glamorise. It robs us and we should not let poverty chic suffocate the air of action and response.

GLASGOW SONNET i

A mean wind wanders through the backcourt trash.

Hackles on puddles rise, old mattresses

puff briefly and subside. Play-fortresses

of brick and bric-a-brac spill out some ash.

Four storeys have no windows left to smash,

but in the fifth a chipped sill buttresses

mother and daughter the last mistresses

of that black block condemned to stand, not crash.

Around them the cracks deepen, the rats crawl.

The kettle whimpers on a crazy hob. Roses of mould grow from ceiling to wall.

The man lies late since he has lost his job,

smokes on one elbow, letting his coughs fall

thinly into an air too poor to rob.

See https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Glasgow-Sonnet-i-by-Edwin-Morgan.pdf?

Donald Macaskill

Always a bridesmaid never the bride: the valuing of social care.

The following blog is based on a talk given on Monday 15th August at the inaugural meeting of the GCVS Health and Social Care Network. SeeNetworks – Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (gcvs.org.uk)

 

I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have been asked to speak at this the launch and opening event of the Glasgow Voluntary Sector Health and Social Care Network. As has been advertised I want to speak about why I think social care is so fundamentally important to both individual citizenship and wider society in Scotland; how the essence of the Feeley Report needs to be upheld and implemented; how a human rights and inclusion perspective needs to be at the heart of social care delivery, and lastly why social care needs to be seen as distinctive from, different to but yet intrinsically complementary to a robust health and wellbeing system.

I suspect that there will be little I say today which will come as novel or new because GCVS and other civil rights infused disability organisations have been stating much the same, championing and campaigning for what I am talking about for decades and decades.

In starting our conversation where better to start than me explaining the title of this talk. ‘Always the Bridesmaid and never the bride.’. First of all, I have to thank Lynn Williams who used the remark in a conversation we were having about the way in which social care seemed to be being ignored and sidelined in so many of the meetings and discussions she and I sometimes share. It felt then and still do now that the title was apt – but then I explored where the phrase came from.

The phrase first originated in a music tune, but it came to huge prominence when the mouthwash brand Listerine in 1924 launched a series of advertisements with the slogan “Often a bridesmaid, never a bride”. These ads portrayed a forlorn woman by the name ‘Edna’ or ‘Eleanor,’   who was unlucky in love and for reasons unknown to herself and was never being able to find love and settle down. The manufacturers marketed the mouthwash by insinuating that everyone around her, even her friends knew the real reason for her lack of success- Halitosis (bad breath). But since it’s an embarrassing subject to bring up, they wouldn’t tell her. This line of advertising sold millions of bottles of mouthwash increasing the company’s sales from $100,000 in 1921 to over $4,000,000 in 1927.

It just goes to show how a phrase can have such a power to convey a message – and whilst the way we use it today is significantly divorced from taking fun out of someone – it has a sense of never being the centre, the focus, special and valued – always playing runner up or the forgotten one. Never getting the main focus and prize. So is that really the case for social care in Scotland in 2022 – you bet it is!

But what is it I am meaning when I talk about social care. After all definitions are important and I am so often in meetings and at events – not least with those who comment about the sector but do not work in it or use its services and support – when they think they know what they are talking about but evidentially it soon becomes clear they do not – and yes that especially includes our politicians and media.

The common misunderstanding is that social care is a series of services which are done to and for a person. It is the tasks and functions that help someone or support them. In fact, in a lot of the recent debate – not least on the National Care Service – the word social has dropped out completely – we are to have Care Boards – but I want to argue that care is not the same as social care and social care is more than simply care (especially if that care is narrowly understood and defined)

I am quite sure if we did a straw poll of what social care was for most of this audience it would not primarily be about services, and tasks and functions – but would be much broader.

For me social care is about connection and relationship, about belonging and being, independence and community. It is for me something which is profoundly about enabling people to be and become fully human to realise their potential and to flourish until the last gasps of living and loving.

There are loads of definitions of social care – the one I often use is this one – it has a forward dynamic – it is not about doing to or for – but enabling, empowering, – it is not about bringing order into the messiness of living but allowing that life to mess up the order and bring creativity, vibrancy, energy, and vitality to life.

‘The enabling of those who require support or care to achieve their full citizenship as independent and autonomous individuals. It involves the fostering of contribution, the achievement of potential, the nurturing of belonging to enable the individual person to flourish.’

That is why social care is so important – it is social – it is connectedness, citizenship, discovering abilities and celebrating diversity. We need to re-discover the social in social care – and tell policy makers and politicians to take their hands off something which will long outlive them and of which they know not.

Social care is therefore for me a human rights issue and a human right in itself.

More of that in a minute – but one of the problems in the ‘Always a bridesmaid’ scenario is that people – even those who should – simply do not recognise and value the massive role and contribution which social care is making every day to our society.

The work of many not least the SSSC has highlighted the economic benefit of social care to the Scottish economy – but that is often lost – even our latest national plan for economy and business Does NOT mention social care -a shocking dereliction of ability and priority and an even greater marginalising of the value of the sector.

Even just last year another report – this time commissioned by Enable showed that far from being a burden on public finances, the sector contributes more than £5.1 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to the country’s economy and supports some 300,000 jobs.

That report demonstrated that social care’s direct economic impact is more than £3.3bn GVA and its indirect economic impact, through supply chains and supporting industries, contributes £800 million. The impact of the sector from employees spending their wages generates £1.1bn.

 

So, given all this – and the shocking failure of our economic leaders to recognise social care and its prospect as an economic driver and contributor – much more than many other valued sectors – what is going on here you might well ask? … you could ask a lot about why it is that social care is marginalised – always the bridesmaid and never the bride

… but I hardly need to articulate the reasons to this audience – is it not the same reasons which in ancient times saw the ban on anything other than perfection in Greco-Roman sculpture and art? Is it not the same attitudes and reasons which saw throughout history the diminishing of those who were different because of disability, mental health challenges or health needs – a diminishment which still goes on to this very day? Is it not the age-old desire to have disability – out of sight and out of mind – shut off from the mainstream, prioritised as other? Is it not the same source of behaviour which has created a cult of youth and beauty and which even today dismisses older age as having had its day, finished its contribution, not worthy of voice or listening to? Is it not the same attitudes which have never treated dementia as a disease of equal health impact such as cancer or diabetes because primarily it impacts upon the lives of women and of those who are old.

The answer is of course discrimination and inequality, the othering of those who we can label, the dismissing of value and voice, of contribution and importance. It is as old as the heavens and as perverse as it has always been.

That is why we who use, access, work in and are involved in social care supports have to find a voice to challenge the status quo – to say enough is enough – we will not be marginalised or silenced – this is our lives and livelihoods – if we change and do things better, seek to be better, to reshape and reform then we can do so much better; we can then celebrate social care as an essential component to civic life and Scotland.

Now both those elements – a broad inclusive definition of social care and a sense that social care had the potential to be an economic driver and contributor to the whole economy can be found richly running through the Feeley Report

I have to confess to something of a Damascus Road conversion to the work of the IRASC – I was a cautious critic at the start because I thought that the task Derek and others were set was impossible to achieve within the time frame given and that they would not fully and properly engage and consult and involve in anything other than a tokenistic manner. It is to the immense credit of Derek Feeley and the whole tram that what resulted was such a dramatically positive and at times visionary report.  It was a report set at a particular time, but which managed to capture the spirit of the hour, to offer pragmatic solution and to describe reality warts and all.

 

The problem is that today or at least for me the Feeley report feels like a dream slowly disappearing into the distance, having been touched by the cold abnorming of political reality and opportunistic pragmatism.

Feeley rightly emphasised the contributive economic and societal nature of a social care system which worked well and enabled the flourishing of all within community. He rightly addressed the implementation gap – or for me the chasm between aspiration and the legislative potential of things such as Self-directed Support which could and should and can still be transformative and revolutionary – he described in words of your making and shaping the practice reality for people who receive care support. Why is it that everything feels like a battle and grind to achieve what should be the right of those who are supported?

This is not the place to go into detail on the NCS – but oh I groan at the gap between vision and reality, between energy of Feeley and the lethargic texts and framing we are now presented with. There is such a slew of despond when by a thousand deaths of bureaucratic implementation, the whisper of originality and the spark of excitement is silenced and snuffed out.

There is still time to shape and influence to try to keep the jewel at the heart and not just create a mini-NHS with the failings its parents are unwilling or unable to recognize such is the adoration of the original.

But you see I am more and more convinced that social care is too important to be left to the politicians and professional policy makers. Indeed, social care is more than the National Care Service – it is more than a service or system, a model or framework – it is about lives and people, about dreams and relationships, about freeing the person to become and the community to flourish – the NCS may enable that, but social care is much much more …

Social care cannot be left to be the plaything of politician and commentator, the disinterested only thinking about a vote or a story, or a sale or a system-  It is ours – those who use and have used, those who are family and informal carers, the frontline workforce in projects and care home, homecare and addiction services, mental health recovery and day services – and so many other places where the SOCIAL matters and takes place and shape.

It is not time to be silent during consultation; it is time to press upon our elected representatives that they cannot get away with half-baked, half costed and half resourced plans and ideas – this is our life, and it will shape our future community – we cannot get it wrong.

The title of this talk is ‘Always the bridesmaid never the bride’ – it is time for social care to take centerstage – not as the bridesmaid to the NHS bride, not as the handmaiden, the Cinderella, the forgotten one, the one who gets the crumbs from the NHS table. We must call out the lazy political speak and mantra which sees the world through NHS eyes, which perceives the need of social care by its impact on the NHS – such as classically the debate about delayed discharge. Such myopic obsession with the NHS is damaging, dangerous and obscenely short-sighted.

Living well in community, independent and with a life that is flourishing is just as important and worthy of resource, political attention, and popular valuing, as the emergency and acute and dramatic success of hospital, GP, nurse, and clinical professional.  They are symbiotic partners of a whole fount of wellbeing.

It is the people on this call and beyond who have the power to advance, to rescue and to advocate for social care support. It is time to make the system human rather than transactional. We cannot continue to have a system which is built around the cult of maintenance – keep people as they are, where they are, who they are – that is the complete opposite of social care which is about enabling the person to change and grow, to flourish and renew, to adventure and discover. Independence is too important for it to become a matter of constitutional debate – independence is first and foremost, most, and best – the enabling of a person to be who they are and to grow to their full potential often in relationship to others.

For me we have a very real potential to rescue the human at the heart of social care – to nourish the social within services and to discover the breadth and depth of a mature modern social care world. That potential is rooted in recognising that social care is, as I stated above, a profound human rights issue.

I have written – at some length – about why I think we need to seize the opportunity of Scotland creating a Human Rights Act – and to become the first nation to explicitly describe what the rights are engaged when we seek to incorporate the International Covenant on Economic involved in the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into Scottish law – now I know the right to health is critical within that.  But I want us to go further and to make explicit – even with the likelihood of progressive realisation – the human right to palliative care, the human right to bereavement support and explicitly and most fundamentally the human right to social care.

The right to health has been interpreted more than just the right to physical and physiological health – in case law it has included emotional and psychological health, but I really hope we can go broader than a loose definition of wellbeing to say that social care – regardless of age – is distinctive, it enables the fulness of life and the achievement of other fundamental human rights and without it being protected as a distinct right then others are diminished. Social care is a human right – it is my right to flourish and thrive, to be independent, to have voice – this is not about attending to my health needs but meeting my social care needs. And in that sense social care can only be judged as a human right realised through the United Nations human right test principles of availability, accessibility, acceptability, quality, participation, and accountability

It is not enough to have a new National Social Care Service, or another set of legal obligations, you become the bride when you are treated as valued and wanted, centre-stage in economic and societal priority, considered as worthy of focus and attention, adequately resourced and prioritised, and for me social care to be human has to be seen as a human right with all the protection that affords, not just a bridesmaid to the NHS bride.

Global Ageing Conference 2023 – Call for Presentations

The 2023 Global Ageing Network Biennial Conference will be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland on 7 – 8 September 2023. This conference will be in partnership with Scottish Care and the National Care Forum – leading care and support provider associations in Scotland and England.

The event will bring together several hundred international delegates and leaders in ageing services, housing, research, technology and design.

The Global Ageing Network seeks to bring together experts from around the world, lead education initiatives and provide a place for innovative ideas in older person care and support to be born. They seek to improve best practices in aged care so that older people everywhere can live healthier, stronger, more independent lives.

The conference theme is ‘Care about Our Future: Global Symposium for Sustainable Care and Support’. We are currently inviting presentation submissions for this conference. We are seeking presentations that embrace a future perspective and feature thought leadership. Including innovative ideas, research, projects and/or programmes that address specific needs in supported housing, homecare, residential and nursing care and support, backed by professionally documented practical experience and/or research findings.

Find out more on: www.globalageing2023.com

National Care Service Webinar – 24 August

We are hosting a National Care Service Bill engagement session next week on Wednesday 24 August 2022, 2:00 pm.

This session is open to all Scottish Care members and staff. Our Policy & Research Manager, Becca Young, will be presenting on the progress of the National Care Service Bill and the consultation process currently underway. There will also be time for discussion and to ask any questions. This is an opportunity to hear more about Scottish Care’s response to the Bill, and for your comments to help shape Scottish Care’s submission to the Stage 1 Calls for Views. We would greatly appreciate your attendance at this session. A briefing will be shared in advance but attendees are also encouraged where possible to familiarise themselves with the National Care Service Bill:

Please register your interest using the form available on the Members Area of this website.

Please note that this webinar will be in a Teams Meeting rather than the usual Zoom format. After registering, you will be sent the joining link a few days before the webinar.

The anxiety of age: the cost of living crisis and older age

Last week I wrote in my blog about the potentially devastating impact of energy cost increases on the care home and homecare sector in Scotland. In response to that several people got in touch to say that there was a dimension of the cost of living and energy increases that was rarely talked about in the mainstream media – namely the impact on older people who live on their own and on their health and wellbeing.

One correspondent put it fairly bluntly when she wrote:

“I feel as if what is happening around me is something over which I have no control. I am on a fixed pension which was a struggle at the best of times but allowed me if I saved to get some things for the grandkids. Now I am either going to have to cut off the heating for most of the winter or not be able to give my grandchildren what I want to. I am going to have to choose between love and heat.”

Despite my attempt to reassure and suggest what I think is a priority and which her grandchildren would consider a priority – i.e., to heat and be warm – I am ashamed that in 2022 an older woman who has given so much to her community and society, and to her family should be having to contemplate making such a decision.

But her choice describes the situation for countless thousands across Scotland today. Unlike those in work who can argue for an increase in their salaries to match the spiralling inflationary costs; or who can potentially work more in order to bridge the gaps – the vast majority of older Scots are on fixed incomes and pensions which at the moment are restricted. They are in a very real and costly Catch 22. The consequences of some of the choices they are making now and will make in the autumn and winter are devastating and, in some instances, might be deadly.

Professor Linda Bauld,  a leading academic at Edinburgh University and who has become a familiar face during Covid, yesterday appeared in the Herald saying that the steep increases in prices could spark a public health emergency with a rise in deaths.

She is quoted saying:

“We know from history that when people lack access to basic resources including energy and food there are health implications… Cold, damp housing exacerbates respiratory conditions for adults and children and results in worsening of symptoms for a range of chronic conditions.

“Not having enough money for transport means people can’t travel to appointments with health services or to collect prescriptions.”

There is nothing new in this reality, nothing new in the fact that older people are more vulnerable to winter deaths because of rising respiratory conditions; nothing new in the fact that more heart attacks occur after a cold spell and nothing new in the poverty faced by older Scots. What does not seem to be new is any political response regardless of where that might come from.

That is not to dismiss some of the interventions which have occurred, and I would encourage anyone who knows any older person to be aware that we are in the last week of being able to apply for additional assistance. People living on a low State Pension should check their eligibility for Pension Credit and apply ahead of next week’s cut off point on Thursday as it could mean an extra £650 of financial support which could help with rising energy bills. There are more details available from Age Scotland and others. But sadly, I suspect all the interventions to date will not prevent the major health emergency we are about to face as a whole society – unless action is taken  and all this said in a week evidencing yet more massive energy producer profits.

In an earlier study from Age UK it was stated that 220,000 older households in Scotland will have insufficient income to cover their essential spending this year. They estimate that the poorest older households in Scotland will need to drastically up the percentage of their net income spent on essential goods and services from 70% in 2021-22 to 87% in 2022-23 due to higher costs of living.

Every day we seem to be hearing yet more negative news with little action or comment from both the Scottish and UK Governments. It is one thing to respond to an emergency and have fault lines found in the response, it is quite another to walk into a nightmare fully awake and to fail to take action which could save lives.

Therefore, it is not only our care homes and homecare services which risk collapse and which will result in inevitable deaths in the coming weeks and months, but people at home on their own over the next few months who will be asked to make life and death decisions, and for many the wrong choice will inevitably follow, and for countless others there will be no choice at all.

Donald Macaskill

2022 Care Home Awards – Open for entries!

We’re delighted to announce that the 2022 Care Home Awards are now open for entries!

Scottish Care would like to invite you to enter your company, staff and residents for this year’s awards. Please help us recognise the work of fantastic staff and providers whilst also giving positive visibility to this often neglected sector.

There are 13 award categories, including:

  • Ancillary & Support Staff Award
  • Nutrition & Eating Well Award
  • Meaningful Activity Award
  • Training, Learning & Staff Development Award
  • Emerging Talent Award
  • Outstanding Achievement Award
  • Leadership Award
  • Palliative & End of Life Care Practise Award
  • Nurse of the Year Award
  • Care Worker of the Year Award
  • Specialist Service/ Unit of the Year Award
  • Care Home Service of the Year Award
  • Positive Impact Award

Find out more about the awards and submit your nomination here.

Award entries close on Monday 5 September 2022, 5:00 pm.

The award ceremony will be held on the evening of Friday 18 November at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. More details to follow.

Summer Bulletin 2022

This year’s Summer bulletin has now been published online and is available to view.

We will not be sending out physical copies of the Bulletin due to Covid-19, this edition is in a digital format instead.

We are in the process of redesigning our quarterly Bulletins. If you have any feedback or ideas of what you’d like to see in the Bulletin, please get in touch at [email protected]

Job Opportunity – Independent Sector Lead: Glasgow

INDEPENDENT SECTOR LEAD – Glasgow

PARTNERS FOR INTEGRATION 

SCOTTISH CARE 

 Health and Social Care Integration  

 £45,829 per annum – 21 hours per week pro rata

Fixed term contract funded for one year – in process of securing a further 2 years funding (3 year post) 

Do you have an interest in improving the quality of care, can you COLLABORATE, INNOVATE AND COMMUNICATE, and would you like to join a successful, committed and highly motivated team? This could be the opportunity you have been waiting for.

We are seeking to engage an Independent Sector Lead to support the Integration of Health and Social Care in Glasgow.  Hosted by Scottish Care and working closely with care providers and partners, the post involves ensuring sector involvement in the delivery of the integrating of health and social care in Scotland’s HSCPs.

The post holder must be highly motivated, be able to use initiative, possess excellent communication and networking skills, demonstrate success and experience working at strategic level with policy makers, providers, regulators, people supported by services and carers. Qualifications and experience at a senior management level would be a significant advantage.

The post holder will be expected to create and support significant collaborations across the independent care sector while contributing to the development of new care pathways which will result in the delivery of improved outcomes for people who access care and support. The post holder will ensure the Independent Sector’s contribution is fundamental to integrated services and transformational change and be able to evidence their impact. The role requires considerable and skilful collaboration with our key partners in the NHS, Local Authority, Carers, third sector organisations and other forums.

Glasgow is a progressive partnership and invests heavily in this post and the Independent Sector.

The post is home based with travel, where necessary, and is hosted by Scottish Care.

To request an application pack, please contact Tracy Doyle at Scottish Care by email [email protected] or to discuss this post please contact Janice Cameron by email [email protected]

Closing date 12pm on Monday 22nd August 2022.  Interviews will be held by video conference – week commencing Monday 5th September 2022 (date(s) to be confirmed).