Ian blogs on learning from the experiences of disabled people and people with long term conditions to transform social care.
The Gathering at the beginning of March saw the launch of the Future of Scotland campaign. At the same time I was engaged in an equally important debate on the future of social care in Scotland.
Our event, also at the Gathering,’ Let’s get real – Transforming Social Care’, heard from Dr Jim McCormick (Scotland Adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) on the 12 Propositions for Social Care. These represent a distillation of thinking on how we can achieve an approach founded on human rights, supporting people to live well and rising to the demographic and economic challenges Scotland faces. The work is rooted in the experiences of people who are disabled or live with long term conditions, and informed by a rich array of expertise from the third sector and our partners.
In the same week the much-anticipated Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to Parliament, and we learned that consultation on the integration of health and social care (including legislation and shared outcomes) will begin in May. The latest round of Reshaping Care for Older People Change Plans were submitted to the Scottish Government and we await their publication with interest. We will be scrutinising the extent to which the plans reflect investment in genuine change, rather than funding the status quo, and how well the third sector is engaged as an equal partner.
Last week also saw the Welfare Reform Bill clear its final hurdle in the Lords. This was accompanied by grave concern from the Westminster Joint Committee on Human Rights that the hard-won right to independent living could be severely undermined. The Committee declared that, “the government and other interested parties should immediately assess the need for, and feasibility of, legislation to establish independent living as a freestanding right”.
As we engage with this panoply of activity, we must make sure the focus remains on the reality for people, families and communities, and that their voices are the driving force for change. I hear frequently about the very real impact already being felt as a result of welfare reforms, rising cost of living, an increasingly competitive labour market and cuts to support and services – issues we will explore at our upcoming Annual Conference.
There is good reason why one of our speakers last week described the fear that we are heading for ‘catastrophe’ for many people who need support and services.
However, the outlook need not necessarily be bleak. We have a hugely significant opportunity – through Christie, self-directed support, reshaping care and integration of health and social care – to set ourselves on a different path. As public debate on the future of Scotland grows, I invite you to join us in helping to shape a future in which people – be they older, disabled or living with long term conditions – are equal, active citizens who have access to public services that enjoy high quality of life and independent living.