Care sector is in a ‘twilight zone’ and facing collapse

Care home providers have said the sector is facing “imminent demise” as insufficient progress has been made in ensuring services are safe and sustainable in Scotland.

A stark warning has been issued.

The message will be delivered at the National Care at Home & Housing Support Conference in Glasgow today by Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, the representative body for the country’s independent social care services.

The 250-delegate event, which is sponsored by Quality Compliance Systems, will include an address by cabinet secretary for health and sport Jeane Freeman.

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Unveiling a briefing paper based on his conference address, entitled A Care Twilight Zone, Dr Macaskill said: “We believe the truth and robustness of our arguments for rebalancing care are clear and demonstrable.

“We believe passionately the potential of homecare to re-shape care and support in Scotland is undeniable.

“But we seem to talk in places where no-one is listening; we look around us and see care organisations going to the wall with disturbing regularity; where a growing number of providers are saying they simply cannot afford to work with the public sector because of the increasing desire to pay less for more and to drive down the costs of care.

“Faced with that landscape evidencing a general state of care economic and delivery decline and dilapidation across the country, in my estimation, we are undeniably in a care twilight zone.”

In his address, Dr Macaskill will highlight nine key areas where urgent work is required to stabilise the home care sector. These include the Scottish Living Wage, time and task commissioning of care and the recruitment of staff.

Scottish Care has written to local authority umbrella group Cosla calling for an urgent roundtable discussion including the Scottish Government and the care regulator to address immediate challenges facing the care at home and housing support sector.

Dr Macaskill added: “We believe we have to have a serious debate about how we are to fund social care into our futures, and I wonder if the silence to date is not indicative of a political desire to hide heads in the sand the closer we come to elections?

“We remain deeply concerned that there is a lack of political energy beyond political party interest and ambition to gather around the table and properly explore how we will fund social care in the short- and medium-term. We have to stop talking about and start implementing the change.

“We have a sector which is on its knees and it is way beyond the point of putting out the begging bowl for the scraps of finance left over when other sectors and issues are funded.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring we have effective, person-centred sustainable social care services both now and in the future. That is why we are already working with Scottish Care and a range of other partners on a programme of national support for local reform.

“This year we are increasing our package of investment in social care and integration to exceed £700 million and this includes provision for the living wage. We are aware there continues to be positive movement on agreement of local rates for home care. Where challenges remain, we have a collective responsibility to address these and the Scottish Government and Cosla will continue to do so.”