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OPINION: Scotland must push forward with National Care Service ‘to lead the world’ in quality care

Lynn Laughland cropped

Lynn Laughland, managing director of HRM Homecare Services, one of Scotland’s largest care at home specialists, shares her thoughts on a recent independent review that calls for the creation of a National Care Service in the country.

Last week marked the beginning of a new, positive chapter for social care in Scotland.

The Independent Review of Adult Care in Scotland published a new framework that would see the setting up of a National Care Service. This National Care Service would be on an equal footing with NHS Scotland.

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Under its proposals, accountability for adult social care will fall under the remit of a new Scottish minister for social care, away from local authorities.

Meanwhile, Integration Joint Boards, funded directly by the Scottish Government, will manage around £10bn of funding used to procure services from local authorities and independent service providers such as HRM Homecare.

Bold step forward

This is a bold new step forward which I welcome wholeheartedly. It is now vital that this is driven forward so Scotland leads the world in providing excellent care services – including care at home, that embrace equity, technology, and empowerment, giving people the opportunity to live well and independently in their own homes.

What is most pleasing about the review is the call from chair Derek Feeley to ‘change the narrative’ round social care. Social care should not be a burden, it should be a good investment of funds; it should be stretching itself to fulfil its potential, not looking over its shoulder looking to deliver care as cheaply as possible; it should be about building trusting relationships, rather than competition.

Above all, it is about embracing technology for good, looking to the future, and making sure that carers are better rewarded and valued – as we ourselves do ­– consistently across the whole country.

For too long care has been the Cinderella of healthcare: undervalued, underappreciated and underfunded. This is particularly the case in Scotland’s rural areas, where councils have faced growing difficulty in delivering services cost-effectively as their elderly population grows.

A shift in language and vision

I stated last year how people perhaps do not realise that the social care sector is the fourth major economic contributor to Scotland, higher than agriculture, forestry and fishing and the arts and entertainment.

A previous Scottish Social Services Council report revealed the sector was worth £3.4 billion, with nearly 148,000 people working for more than 5,000 regulated services, providing 6% of the total workforce in Scotland. 

At the time I suggested no-one was willing to talk about this, but this review has changed this. This shift in language and vision around social care indeed transforms the whole landscape of the sector, including the need to invest and innovate to build a service that can be the envy of other countries. If delivered, it would be a National Care Service we can all be proud of.

I, and everyone at HRM Homecare, look forward to the next step in this new, positive journey for social care in Scotland.

Established in 1995, HRM Homecare Services provides more than 9,000 hours of home support per week to the most vulnerable people in the west and central Scotland.

Tags : HRM Homecarelynn laughlandNational care service
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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