Latest blog from our CEO: Take Five for Care

Its just a few days to go before folks across Scotland will be going to their local polling stations to cast their votes in the Scottish Local Government Elections. In some senses since the General Election has been called less and less profile has been given to the Local Elections. This is hugely unfortunate because, and not to diminish the import of the General Election, so much of what affects our day to day living is planned, decided and delivered at local authority level. This is especially the case for social care.

Over the last few weeks as part of our Agenda for Care Scottish Care has been trying to raise the profile of social care and in particular some of the challenges we are currently facing as we seek as providers, workers and families to support our growing older aged population in Scotland.

So in these last few days and hours before the polling stations open I would like to invite you to take five minutes and think about what your candidates are saying about social care.

Take Five minutes to think about the fact that in Scotland we are faced with a 28% vacancy level in nursing in our care homes. There is a real crisis in the numbers of nurses available and willing to work in the care sector in Scotland. This is in part because local authorities do not sufficiently fund providers to enable them to offer the same terms and conditions that nurses in hospitals or in our communities receive. So is the candidate you vote for going to do something to attract nurses into social care because if elected they can make that change? Is your candidate prepared to challenge the myths and stereotypes which exist around care homes as places of care?

Take Five minutes to think about the fact that for many of the 100,000 people working in delivering social care across Scotland that their work is timed to the minute by electronic monitoring systems. Do you think it is possible to deliver dignified care in a 15 or a 30-minute visit where we have workers having to clock in and out and organisations paid for by the minute? I don’t think this is a system which gives respect and treats people with trustful dignity. Scottish Care believes  that we need to treat both workers and people who are cared for with dignity, trust and humanity. So is the candidate you are going to vote for someone who will try to make sure the way we buy care in our community is fair to both the workers and the person being supported?

Take Five minutes to think about the fact that local authorities pay only £3.97 an hour to support some of our most vulnerable older people in our care homes with 24/7 nursing care. Do you think that that is sufficient to offer dignified care to people who are often at the end of their life and who are living with conditions such as dementia? Is the candidate you are voting for even aware about the realities of the pressures care homes, whether private or charitable, are currently facing?

Take Five minutes to think about what sort of care and support you might want for a family member or for yourself in years to come. The way we care for our older citizens, is I believe, a sign of the sort of nation we are or want to be. Do you think that we spend enough on social care of the old? Ultimately these are decisions we all have to make because we have a limited amount of resources. Scottish Care would like us as a nation regardless of political allegiance to sit down and start planning seriously for how we are going to pay for social care in the future. We need a National Conversation about Social Care. Our current challenges will be dwarfed in the future unless we start taking hard decisions. So ask your local candidate how seriously are they taking social care? Is it just an added extra to their political concerns or is it at the centre of their priorities?

Take Five minutes to think about older people in Scotland. It is often said that older Scots have created our nation and that is undoubtedly true. But what is often forgotten is that our older citizens are still contributing, still shaping and still making our nation. As a society we often display significant discrimination against our older citizens. Local Government can do a lot more to include the voice and experience of people who still have a huge amount to offer. What is your local candidate saying or willing to do to include the voice of older Scots?

I could ask you to take a lot more than the five issues I have raised but whatever is important to you at this time, I would ask you as you stand in the polling booth to Take Five for Care because they are likely to be five minutes or five thoughts that will make a life of a difference to so many thousands who care for a family member, who work in caring or who receive care.

 

Donald Macaskill

@DrDMacaskill

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