This summer saw wild, hot and wet weather causing disruption and taking lives in communities across the globe. The heat wave in Canada and the USA, and the devastating floods in Germany and Belgium are some of the international examples. Closer to home flash flooding following unusual summer heat has hit communities in Scotland and across the UK. What does this changing climate mean for the social care sector?
Earlier this summer the UK Climate Change Committee released its Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk saying the UK is ‘struggling to keep pace with climate change impacts’. The summary for health and social care points to flooding, overheating, and water scarcity as the main concerns. There could also be increasing risks from high winds or storms, and changes in air quality.
These risks will impact the social care sector both as disruption to the services from transport and access issues, and through the service users’ changing medical needs. It is also important to remember that the impacts of climate change are not evenly felt. Those already disadvantaged or in poor health are disproportionately impacted.
This is recognised in Climate Ready Scotland: Second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, which has an aim of ‘Scotland’s health and social care is ready and responding to changing demands as a result of the changing climate’. It also acknowledges that ‘impacts on these services will likely disproportionately affect those who are already more vulnerable’. The programme lists a number of actions underway to improve the sector’s resilience.
At the same time every organisation and every one of us individually have a role in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Travel, waste and energy use are some of the practices where organisational and individual everyday practices can be part of taking us in the right direction, with a wealth of resources available to inspire and enable change to reduce the unhealthy and dangerous impacts of a warming world.
Anne Marte Bergseng
 Last year ClimateXChange published a report looking at how social care at home services had faired through three extreme weather events. The research found that extreme weather events result in a substantially increased workload for care workers and managers in the care at home sector.
About the author:
Anne Marte is the Knowledge Exchange Manager at ClimateXChange – Scotland’s centre of expertise connecting climate change research and policy. She manages research projects on behaviour change and adapting to the impacts of climate change and is a knowledge exchange expert with 20+ years’ experience from media, corporate and science communications, and facilitation. In addition to specific research projects she works across ClimateXChange’s portfolio to connect research and Scottish Government policy-making.
Twitter handle: @annemarteb
This blog was specially commissioned as part of the Health and Social Care Academy (a programme of the ALLIANCE) and Scottish Care’s ‘Climate Change and the Social Care Collective’ roundtable series. The roundtables are helping to foster dialogue and explore the crucial role that social care must play in the context of climate change – in addressing, adapting to and taking action to mitigate the impacts. The last roundtable session will be held on October 20th 2021, from 10:00 – 12:00. More information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/climate-change-and-the-social-care-collective-roundtable-series-tickets-162420268395