Ian Welsh: Scotland changing health and social care and the world is taking notice

Change has been the overarching theme for my organisation, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE), this year. The theme has been embedded in our achievements, activities and overall work to improve outcomes for ­people who are disabled or living with long term conditions and their unpaid carers.

Addressing the disparity between employment levels of disabled people and the rest of the population is also a key policy of governments across the UK

As Socrates said, ‘the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new’. The new year 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 the Year of Young People and young people will be the leaders of tomorrow’s health and social care systems. Consequently, our Health and Social Care Academy programme will be embodying this work by co-producing much of its 2018 activity with young people.

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This will build on our partnership 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 OBE Chief Executive Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

The development of a new social security agency offers an opportunity to revolutionise 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. 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 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.

Next 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. The Scottish Self Management Fund continues to support organisations to deliver innovative self management approaches throughout the country.

Ian Welsh OBE Chief Executive Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)

Moreover, the learning from our 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. Our hub programmes will contribute to 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 capacity building, education, evaluation and learning, networking and communication.

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.

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 reasonable adjustments. We’ll also be working 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 jobs.

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

Ian Welsh OBE, chief executive, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).