A healthy approach to 2018 - policy developments to look out for


Ian Welsh explores the health and social care developments to expect in Scotland this year

TFN Guest's photo

9th January 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

2018 will bring with it new opportunities with the development of a new Scottish social security agency, devolved and refreshed employability support for disabled people, the new GP contract and the roll out of the Chief Medical Officer’s Realistic Medicine plans

This year is also the Year of Young People, and young people will be the leaders of tomorrow’s health and social care system. Consequently, our Health and Social Care Academy programme will be focussing work around the exciting Year of the Young Person, and embodying this work by co-producing much of its 2018 activity with young people. This will build on partnership activity with University of West of Scotland and college providers to support young people to tell us their aspirations for the future of health and social care.

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Keeping people at the centre, the development of a new social security agency offers an opportunity to people across Scotland to revolutionise the approach taken to financial assistance for disabled people, people with long-term conditions and unpaid carers. Over the coming twelve months, there is the chance to fundamentally redesign how social security is administered. In particular, we can look at how assessments are conducted, the importance of independent advocacy, the evidence used to make decisions and the role people themselves can play in improving the system as it is developing. The Scottish Government has committed to taking a human-rights based approach to this initiative and we will continue to make our members’ views known.

Throughout 2018, the Dementia Carer Voices Project will continue to reach out with its Make a Difference campaign to people across the UK, using the principles of values-based reflective practice, to encourage staff and the health and social care workforce to pledge to make a difference to the lives of people accessing support and services. The project is now supporting both the Scottish and English Chief Nursing Officers in Leading Change and Excellence in Care as well as working with NHS and partnerships boards to ensure that people with dementia and their carers are at the heart of integration and improvement.

This year will also mark the 10-year anniversary of Gaun Yersel, the Self Management Strategy for Scotland, a unique plan informed by the experiences of people living with long-term conditions and the Scottish Self Management Fund continues to support organisations to deliver innovative self management approaches throughout the country. Moreover, the learning from our major Four Nations Summit in October has ensured that the Scottish approach continues to influence world-wide practice. We will build on that with a new, national Self Management and Co-production Hub.  Collectively, our hub programmes will contribute to the delivery of the vision for health and social care integration and primary care transformation by helping to align the assets of the public, third and independent sectors with those of individuals and communities through the processes of capacity building, education, evaluation and learning, networking and communication.

Having systems that work for people and the workforce really matters. I welcome the government’s commitment to realistic medicine and GP contracts, which aim to develop a more equal relationship through personalised care and shared decision making. It’s good to see that person-centred care remains prominent, the need for a supported self-management approach is acknowledged, and that the importance of valuing relationship-based care features. Decisions about what to support and implement in health and social care are pressured and complex but I believe involving people of lived experience, and the third sector, fully in the detail of implementation is vital to achieving a transformational change.

Addressing the disparity between employment levels between disabled people and the rest of the population is also a key policy of governments across the UK. Over the next year, we will work to highlight the issues disabled people face in getting into employment and how employers can be ambitious in their approach to reasonable adjustments. We’ll also be working much more closely with partners and members including the Scottish Union of Supported Employment to highlight models of support which can assist people to achieve and sustain paid employment.

Health and social care integration has been a major piece of public service reform, throughout the year we will also be running a significant We Need to Talk about Integration programme, looking to develop a constructive conversation with people and professionals about progress so far, hoping to build a momentum for change.

Ian Welsh is chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland