Radical action is needed to reform home care services before the sector collapses, a sector body is warning.
A new paper by Scottish Care, the representative body for the country’s independent social care services, outlines the 12 main challenges facing home care services, including:
- Recruitment of staff – 9 out of 10 providers say they are struggling to recruit staff. People are simply not walking through the door despite the increase in the Scottish Living Wage.
- Holding on to existing staff – Recent Scottish Care research showed that 63% of staff who left in the last year did so within the first six months of joining an organisation.
- SDS is not working for older people – Self-directed support (SDS) is the only way that citizens should be accessing social care – but for most older Scots the principles of choice, control, participation and dignity are being daily ignored,
- Social care is underfunded – There is a complete lack of nonpartisan political willingness to undertake a national assessment of how we are going to pay for social care not just tomorrow but into the future. Social care needs to be seen as a major economic contributor rather than as drain on national resources.
The issues are detailed in ‘12 minutes to midnight’, a new paper which will be launched at Scottish Care’s conference for Care at Home and Housing Support Services on 18 May in Glasgow.
Speaking ahead of the conference, CEO Dr Donald Macaskill said:
“Scottish Care has been warning for the last year that the precarious nature of home care in the current climate is leading us closer to a precipice of home care collapse in Scotland.
“The result of not investing in this type of care is that we see providers who genuinely want to deliver high quality care in local communities but who are finding the challenges to be almost unbearable.
“If meaningful action isn’t taken urgently to ensure we still have a social care system able to care for our vulnerable older citizens, the consequences are enormous – for health and social care, for the economy, for jobs and most importantly, for the tens of thousands of individuals and families who rely on support in their own homes.
“That is why we are launching ‘12 minutes to midnight’ – to make clear what the very real challenges are and to offer our thoughts on the changes that are necessary to creating sustainable home care into the future.”
The paper sets out 12 ways in which changes need to be made urgently before it is too late. These include calls for:
- A Pay Commission to be established to decide what is an adequate rate of pay for those engaged in the increasingly skilled and challenging tasks of care in our community
- The establishment of a Care for the Carer Fund dedicated to ensuring the mental health and well-being of frontline social care staff
- A cross-party and independent Commission on the Future Funding of Social Care in Scotland. Without urgently exploring the financing of social care and health in Scotland we are only dealing with part of the dilemma and challenge.
- The creation of a special division within Scottish Enterprise dedicated to enabling the greater promotion and development of social care as an asset to the wider Scottish economy, as well as to untap the economic and wider contribution of older citizens.
Dr Macaskill added:
“Social care services and the older individuals they support need to be recognised as major contributors to the fabric and economy of Scotland rather than as a drain on national resources. Let us work together – politicians, economists, those who work and provide care and those who receive care and support – in identifying and progressing potential solutions for the home care crisis we are already experiencing. There’s been too much talking and wringing of hands and not enough ‘walking the walk’. Action needs to happen now.”
ENDS12 mins to midnight (2)