Scottish Care welcomes the Care Inspectorate’s enquiry report on care at home and housing support services during the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlights many of the issues that Scottish Care and its members have been raising over the last six months.
There is a real sense in which the care at home and housing support sector has been and continues to be the Achilles heel of our pandemic response, having been regularly overlooked or insufficiently planned for nationally and locally. The report demonstrates that effective solutions have been reliant on good partnership relationships with the care at home and housing support sector at local level, but unfortunately the degree to which this happens and the sector is treated as a true partner remains extremely variable and often woefully inadequate.
The report highlights the fragility of the care at home sector and its workforce in terms of contractual and commissioned arrangements. It shows that – not just as a result of the pandemic but in line with what Scottish Care has called for for some time – we need to change how care is commissioned in Scotland and this report comes at an important time in contributing to the recently announced Review of Social Care.
It also highlights the lack of real choice and direct engagement with people accessing support when decisions are being made which impact their care. The findings highlight that ‘social isolation, disruption to daily activities, limitations on physical activity and the suspension of reablement adversely impacted on the health and wellbeing of people who experience care and carers.’ Positive support for these aspects is the essence of what social care is and can do for people. The facilitation of positive wellbeing, preventative care approaches and support to maintain or regain independence cannot be achieved in 15 minute visits by a workforce paid by the minute through restrictive, task oriented local contracts.
There is clear evidence, highlighted in recent NRS data, of a disturbing increase in excess deaths in the community and more work is required to explore the relationship between the removal or reduction of homecare supports as a pandemic response and the impact and experiences of people supported in the community. To date, Scottish Care has seen no sign of the extent to which care packages are being reintroduced and if they are, what appreciation exists for the deterioration many people have inevitably experienced in the last six months. Assessments must happen and must reflect the changes that have occurred in people’s lives.
This is another example of an important report highlighting the fragmented and precarious social care system we have rather than the integrated and properly valued system that we need. Its recommendations should be treated with the urgency and priority they require.
The Care Inspectorate report is available here.