Report calls for urgent action to address critical issues in delivery of social care in Scotland

Urgent action is needed to change how Scotland’s social care services are delivered so that it meets the needs of people relying on care and support, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General for Scotland.

In a joint briefing, which summarises the sectors’ key challenges in advance of audit work next year, they say fundamental issues and threats to the future sustainability of Scotland’s social care system need to be addressed. The pandemic has exacerbated long-standing challenges, highlighting the precarious situation of many vulnerable people who rely on social care or support.

Over £5 billion a year is spent on delivering social care with some services near crisis point. The report calls for a shift in how this money is used, with a far greater emphasis needed on preventative care that meets the needs of individual people.

The briefing also identifies the following issues:

  • Service users do not always have a choice or say about what support works best for them
  • Carers are not getting all the support and advice they need, despite existing legislation
  • The 200,000-strong workforce is under immense pressure and feels undervalued
  • The high vacancy rate and a continuing problem of recruiting and retaining this workforce into roles which often have low pay
  • Commissioning social care services tends to focus on cost, rather than quality or outcomes

William Moyes, Chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “There are significant problems with the delivery of social care services. These services are vital, yet we have a workforce that’s not adequately valued or regarded. Staffing shortages are a major issue across the sector and not all people’s needs are being met.

“Too often a focus on costs comes at the expense of delivering high quality services that aren’t at the heart of the needs of individuals. The additional funding to achieve this will be significant. Not taking action now presents a serious risk to the delivery of care services for the people who depend on them.”

The report calls on the Scottish Government to bring together the views and experiences of service users and carers to support the delivery of their long-held ambitions for social care.

Stephen Boyle, Auditor General for Scotland, said: ”We cannot wait another five years until the planned National Care Service is in place. Action must happen now, and at speed, by the Scottish Government. There must be clear timescales for delivery, demonstrating that lessons have been learnt from previous reforms of health and social care services. This will create a strong foundation for the government’s vision to create a National Care Service.”

Click here to download the Briefing.

Picture (c) The Accounts Commission.