Dr Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care CEO said:
“The latest figures on the cost of providing Free Personal Care for those over 65 in Scotland do not come as a surprise. We recognise that work is underway with Scottish Government to capture more accurate data. However as they are, these figures are illustrative of two key issues. The first is that more and more people are living for longer which is confirmed by the latest Population Survey. This is something we should celebrate. Secondly, unfortunately people might be living for longer but not always in good health. These people require to be supported either in their own home or in a care home. Indeed the fact that we are spending less on care home placements shows that more individuals are being supported to live at home. It is a matter of concern that despite a significant increase in the clinical needs of individuals in care homes, significant increases in cost pressures such as staff salaries, somehow today we are spending less on their care than two years ago.
“In the years to come these figures will keep rising and so they should. Why? Firstly, because people are living longer and secondly, because if we want a decent quality care system which supports the human rights and dignity of those Scots who need it; we cannot get care on the cheap and will require to pay for it. After all if we value the work of our carers we should not be paying them amongst the lowest rates of pay in our nation.
“Given our ageing population we have to ask ourselves, when we see these figures, are we paying enough? Local authorities because of the lack of funding due to austerity have raised the level at which individuals can get free care and support. This means that there are thousands of Scots who are having to pay for their own care who do not come into these figures. The sad reality is that many families who can ill afford it are having to pay for care today who would not have had to ten years ago. In addition if we are ever to take prevention seriously, that is to have support and care that stops people unnecessarily ending up in hospital, then we need to invest more in the care of older Scots not less.
“If you speak to the workers who are allocated 15 minutes to get someone up and fed in a morning and are supposed to do so in a manner which is relaxed and dignified – then you will hear them say we are not spending anywhere near enough on the care of our vulnerable population.
“These annual returns, and especially the fact that we have over the last two years spent less, should hold a mirror to the broken health and care system in our country; a system where workers struggle to provide dedicated care and where too many live isolated lives because their care has been withdrawn. The radical reform of a social care system where you price the worth of care by the minutes is long overdue. A civilised society should be spending a lot more on care.”