Call for radical social care system upheaval


Pandemic has exposed fundamental flaws in the system 

31st August 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Disabled people’s and carers’ organisations have come together to call on the Scottish Government to take urgent, radical action to create a “worthy” social care support system.

In an open letter to cabinet secretary Jeane Freeman, they describe how the pandemic has exposed the long-term fundamental flaws in the system, and the devastating consequences for disabled people and unpaid carers when it struck. People have had essential care cut or completely withdrawn, leaving some bed-bound and unable to get food, with families and unpaid carers left somehow to cope.

Meanwhile, it is unclear what has become of the £100 million the Scottish Government announced to enable local authorities to sustain social care support, which largely does not seem to have reached support users or third sector providers.

The call comes ahead of tomorrow’s programme for government.

The letter states: “Many people need social care support, not just to stay alive but to have a life, to exercise choice and control, participate and contribute as equal citizens, and achieve even their most basic human rights.

“However, there has been a persistent chasm between the Scottish Government’s declared aspirations for social care support as set out in the co-produced shared vision for adult social care support and the reality. This is not news. Neither is it to overlook the fact that some providers have made phenomenal efforts to continue to offer good support, choice and control.

“However, we are aware that they have often had to do that in the teeth of a system that has sometimes hampered their efforts and, on occasion, has even undermined them. This is not sustainable." 

It adds: “The long-term, fundamental flaws within the current social care support system have had devastating consequences, even before the pandemic struck. Since then, those flaws and the impact on people’s lives have been plain for all to see. A government that cares about equality, inclusion and human rights surely needs to take action.”

The groups say the system does not offer the user choice associated with private sector provision, nor the equitable treatment that the public sector should be equipped to deliver. Austerity and under-funding have reduced eligibility, creating a toxic culture of rationing, alongside unmet and unrecorded needs.

Meanwhile public funds available for social care support are not necessarily transparently spent on social care support and it can be unclear where accountability lies. Competitive tendering mostly seems to serve to drive down wages, contrary to Fair Work goals, as well as driving down service quality and user satisfaction.

The letter is signed by Sally Witcher: Inclusion Scotland; Tressa Burke: Glasgow Disability Alliance;  Florence Garabedian: Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living; Morven Brooks: Disability Equality Scotland; People First Scotland; Etienne d’Aboville: Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living; Fiona Collie: Carers Scotland; Claire Cairns: Coalition of Carers in Scotland; and Mahmud Al-Gailani: Vox Scotland.