Scottish Lib Dems launch consultation on social care.

We will all have some contact with the social care system at some point whether it is for ourselves or for someone we love.

Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell us in their party political broadcast this week, it was the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with Labour, who introduced it back in the glorious days of the early 2000s.

Things aren’t going so well, though, as an ageing population puts huge pressure on the system.

At any one time, around 1,000 patients are stuck in hospital because a care home place isn’t available, the support they need to return home isn’t there or their needs haven’t been assessed. Official statistics have shown 1 in 12 NHS beds being occupied by people on delayed discharges at a cost of £132 million annually (a daily cost of £233 per patient).

In November, the results of a Scottish Care online survey estimated that around a third of nursing posts in care homes are vacant, while nine out of ten providers reported that it was difficult to recruit staff. This has forced providers to become more reliant on agency staff. The organisation warned that “we are now at the stage of many care homes being placed at real risk in terms of their survival”.

Launching the survey, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

At some point in all our lives we, or our loved ones, will need help. But how can we ensure everybody gets the quality care and the treatment they need, when they need it? 

I have had constituents wait weeks on end for a care package to be put in place. Thousands of people each year are needlessly in hospital because the home care support they need simply isn’t available.

Person-centred care is quality care. If people don’t have the support they need it can effect their physical and mental health.

With Scotland’s population rapidly ageing, our social care system is already under immense pressure. Concerns surround funding, how the integration of health and social care is progressing and the acute shortage of care staff in the sector. They are working around the clock but are really stretched.

Social care spokesperson Karen Clark said:

Scottish Liberal Democrats pioneered the policy of free personal and nursing care for the elderly in Scotland and recognise that we need to plan now for a fair, affordable and sustainable social care policy for the future.

In recent months we have seen charities warn about staff shortages and care packages falling short, meanwhile integrated joint boards warn that they don’t have the resources or long-term strategies to tackle the challenges of an ageing population.

That’s why we’re running a consultation on the future of social care. We’d love to hear from organisations and individuals with experience of the care system either as providers or service users to help shape party policy moving forward.

The party is looking for individuals and organisations with experience of the care system to take part in the consultation. You can do so here. 

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One Comment

  • @ The Voice “Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell us in their party political broadcast this week, it was the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with Labour, who introduced it back in the glorious days of the early 2000s.”

    Errrrr, not quite. Social care was going long before devolution. What I think you mean is free personal care for the elderly. Yes, Lib Dems can claim some credit for that, but it’s not without problems of cost as illustrated in the Sutherland Report back in 2008. Details can be googled in :

    Independent Review of Free Personal and Nursing Care in Scotland

    What the SNP can claim credit for is an attempt to integrate social care and NHS care – with mixed success. Bottom line is cost and staffing and raising the finance to do it properly.

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