Covid Scotland: Winter plan published for adult social care

The Scottish Government has published its winter plans for health and social care, including a new £300 million funding package, announced already by health secretary Humza Yousaf.

A social care winter preparedness plan, also published on Friday, includes increased funding of up to £48m to increase wages in adult social care from December.

Some £7m will also be set aside to support the health and wellbeing of social care staff, and £400,000 will be spent on providing micro-grants to give unpaid carers a break under the Time to Live fund.

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But some unpaid carers have accused the plan of not going far enough.

A geriatrician holds the hand of an elderly woman with arthritis. Picture: Corbis

Shubhanna Hussain-Ahmed, partnership development officer at the Coalition of Carers in Scotland, and a carer herself, said there was “very little in the winter plan that will help many carers, like myself, over this winter period”.

Speaking in a personal capacity as a carer, Ms Hussain-Ahmed said she had already tried to access the Time to Live fund and been told her local carers’ centre has already closed applications due to high demand.

She called instead for an “immediate and significant carer emergency and recovery fund” of at least £5m to support unpaid carers who have been “abandoned” during the pandemic.

"This carer emergency and recovery fund would allow significant grants to get directly to carers, with minimum bureaucracy to help with the continued, additional costs of the Covid pandemic,” she said.

Ms Hussain-Ahmed added: “We have been told that the problems with implementing self directed support will be addressed by the new National Care Service, but carers and the people that we care for and support need help right now, this winter. We absolutely cannot wait years for a National Care Service to be in place before we even begin to see any real change.”

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Introducing the winter health and social care plans, Mr Yousaf said: “Our health and care system is under more pressure than at any point in the pandemic and this winter will be one of the most challenging it has faced.

"That’s why we have outlined a package of over £300m of investment in NHS and care services this winter to help address these pressures.”

He added: “I understand how difficult it is for our health and social care teams as they work tirelessly to deliver treatment and care to people in their communities and I want to thank them for their dedication and commitment to the people of Scotland.”

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union praised the government for recognising the pressures on social care staff, but stressed the need for long-term solutions.

“The RCN will continue to work with the Scottish Government to see what can be done to recruit the necessary workforce in the short term,” said RCN Scotland board director Julie Lamberth. “However, what is needed is a long-term sustainable solution.

“We need to ensure that the unique role of nursing in social care is valued and that nursing is seen as an attractive and rewarding career across our NHS and social care services if we are to recruit and retain the nursing workforce Scotland needs.”

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