Media Statement: Care sector plea for urgent investment ahead of Scottish Government Budget

Scotland’s independent care sector has issued an urgent appeal for extra funding ahead of the Scottish Government’s budget proposals next week (Thu Dec 14).

And it says the time is right for the authorities to “invest seriously in the social care sector”.

 

In a pre-budget briefing paper Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, the representative body for the independent care sector states:

“We are calling upon political leadership within the Scottish Parliament to give serious consideration to the necessity of urgent investment within the social care sector in Scotland.

“We acknowledge that local government has to a significant extent maintained investment in social care despite cuts in funding.  However, this maintenance alone is insufficient given the growing level of need, increase in dependency and enhanced demographic demand. If we are even going to achieve the current provision, albeit reformed, never mind the development of higher quality provision, the social care sector for older adults in Scotland requires urgent and serious additional investment.

“The sustainability of the sector cannot be secured without a significant increase in funding.”

The briefing document has been sent to all MSPs in a bid to highlight the extent of the problems facing the sector which employs more than 100,000 in Scotland – including 5000 nurses.

The briefing document states:

“The care home sector in Scotland is facing a significant crisis.  This is not a word which is used lightly because after all, we are talking about the places people have come to know as their homes, and we are holding in our concern the 53,000 members of staff who rely on the sector to make their living.  The care home sector in Scotland cannot face another year of spiralling costs coupled with even greater recruitment and retention challenges without there being an inevitable set of closures and withdrawals from the care home sector.  Whilst there has been an increase in funding over the last two years this has virtually all been taken up by requirements to pay the Scottish Living Wage.  We applaud this policy but are deeply concerned that there are signs that the Scottish Government may rightly want us to continue to pay staff more but without a willingness to fund local authorities to allow us to do so.”

In a stark warning about the future of the sector the briefing continues:

“Scottish Care has clear evidence that a good number of providers will seek to withdraw from the sector in the next calendar year unless there is a substantial redress to outstanding issues.”

It adds:

“Scottish Care believes that the time is right for all parties, importantly including Scottish Government, to invest seriously in the social care sector.  For instance, there is a real risk, which is already becoming evident, that Integrated Joint Boards will seek to reduce the use of the care home sector in order to make short term financial savings and to balance the books.  We believe that such an approach endangers the health and wellbeing of countless individuals.  It fails to adequately understand the growing challenges of dependency and clinical need, and presents a real risk to the safety of individuals and our communities.  Such an approach relies on individuals remaining in their own homes, yet it is clear that Scotland’s family carers are at breaking point and that the home care sector is in a parlous state due to equal under-investment.”

Quoting comments from one service provider, the document goes on:

“It all comes down to funding.  Without adequate funding, we cannot pay enough to attract staff.  Without quality staff, we cannot provide the quality of care we want to.  Without funding, we cannot train our staff.  The recruitment and retention problem is only getting worse… The sector is skating on a dangerously thin piece of ice which is only getting thinner and without proper funding, we are going to see many services fall into the cold dark waters and drown.”

Scottish Care members provide 89% of care home places in Scotland and deliver more than 50% of home care hours for older people as they support approximately 65,000 people

Scottish Care states:

“Prevention of unnecessary admissions to hospitals through better use of social care services (namely care at home, housing support and care home services) could result in positive preventative action and significant savings to the public purse.

“Care at home services are currently facing significant pressure which is affecting sustainability.  Recent work by Scottish Care has highlighted that more and more providers are either refusing to tender or returning existing contracts on the basis of their non-viability.  Given the scope of the independent care at home sector across Scotland, should such actions continue or gather momentum then the sustainability of enabling independent living will become impossible.”

Emphasising problems recruiting and retaining staff the document continues:

“We are facing a crisis in Scotland at the present time: 77% of care homes have workforce vacancies, 28% have seen an increase in the use of agencies for non-nursing staff, 22% is the annual turnover rate for all care staff.

“For care at home and housing support, the figures show that: 9 out of 10 care at home providers have difficulty recruiting care staff, almost 20% of organisations are not at all confident that they can continue to operate at current provision levels over the next 12 months.”

 

  • Scottish Care represents over 400 organisations, which totals almost 1000 individual services, delivering residential care, nursing care, day care, care at home and housing support services.

 

  • Our membership covers both private and voluntary sector provider organisations. It includes organisations of varying types and sizes, amongst them single providers, small and medium sized groups, national providers and not-for-profit voluntary organisations and associations.

 

  • Our members deliver a wide range of registered services for older people as well as those with long term conditions, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, dementia or mental health problems.

 

 

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