Recovery and Renewal
Learn from everyone’s experiences and guarantee no-one is left behind.
Commission an independent, person centred inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on health and social care in Scotland.
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the Scottish health and social care sector. A range of issues within the Scottish Government, local and Integration Authorities, and the third and independent sectors, have been highlighted and exacerbated. For example, a significant proportion of social care packages were reduced and removed, despite Scottish Government guidance and resources to continue support.[i]
An independent inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on health and social care must be commissioned to safeguard the rights and interests of disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers who rely on these services.
Taking a rights based approach, and co-produced with civic society, the inquiry would explore how well the current system was equipped to deal with the crisis, and identify areas of good practice and innovation that emerged in response to the pandemic. The findings should be used to support future development and continuous improvement of health and social care in Scotland.
Appoint an independent Scottish Commissioner for Older People.
Like many countries, Scotland has an ageing population. This is a positive development, as it means more people are living longer lives. As we age, everyone should be confident that they will have all the support they need to live life to the full. One of the ways to ensure this is to uphold and inform people about their rights.
An independent Scottish Commissioner for Older People would be a specific champion for the rights of older people. They would review relevant laws, policy, and practice, highlight and advocate for change where needed, commission research, and carry out investigations when older people’s rights may have been breached.
The Commissioner would embrace the opportunities as well as respond to the challenges of an ageing population. By recognising the value of older people in our society and helping them to realise their rights, we can ensure everyone continues to play an active role.
Create a rolling Community Wellbeing Fund in every Integrated Joint Board area for third sector health and care organisations to reduce social isolation and support post-pandemic recovery.
Scotland’s third sector has always been a vital part of our society, and COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on its role. At a very difficult time, a huge variety of organisations – including numerous ALLIANCE members – stepped up and stepped in to support people across the country.[ii]
Third sector health and social care organisations are particularly crucial to preventing many people being left behind or forgotten. However, while adapting to respond to a huge increase in demand for their services, many organisations reported significant financial pressure, due to restrictions on their ability to fundraise.[iii] For some this was not a new phenomenon caused by the pandemic; it has been a developing situation over many years. Research has also found that social distancing introduced in response to COVID-19 has increased feelings of loneliness in Scotland’s older population and impacted their wellbeing.[iv]
Introducing a rolling programme of Community Wellbeing Funds across all IJB areas will achieve the dual goals of increased funding for organisations, and targeted action to support people experiencing social isolation and loneliness across Scotland. Those working in our communities already have the connections and relationships with people; sustainable and secure funding helps to protect that local knowledge and expertise.
Provide additional sustainable funding to the health and social care sector to mitigate the negative impacts of Brexit on disabled people, people living with long term conditions, unpaid carers and the third sector.
The UK’s exit from the European Union presents a range of challenges to the health and social care sector, and action is needed to safeguard the interests of the disabled people, people living with long term conditions and unpaid carers who rely on the contribution of EU citizens in the health and social care sector.
Many health and social care organisations – including ALLIANCE members – rely heavily on EU workers and could not continue in their present form without that support. If these organisations are allowed to fail, other parts of the system will need to fill those gaps. ALLIANCE research with communities across Scotland[v] highlighted that people who use support and services have concerns about future availability, particularly in social care.
Any restrictions upon the future freedom of movement of EU nationals, and their rights to live and work in the UK, could have far reaching consequences. Although powers over immigration are reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government should use the powers at its disposal to mitigate any negative impact and ensure sustainable funding for recruitment and training to avoid staff shortages.
Appoint an independent panel of people with lived experience to inform and advise the Scottish Government’s work on fuel poverty.
Scotland’s fuel poverty law includes a requirement for a new statutory Advisory Panel to ensure that targets are met.[vi] However, there is no requirement for people with lived experience to be on this panel, and current members represent organisations. Similarly, the Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum – “a representative body for the wider fuel poverty sector” that advises and supports the Advisory Panel – is also comprised of organisations, rather than people with lived experience (except for the Poverty Truth Commission member.)[vii]
There is growing recognition in Scotland of the importance of ensuring that people who are experts by experience are involved in a free, meaningful and active way in decisions that affect them, alongside people who are experts by profession and/or training. This is already becoming standard practice in other national policy areas, like the social security Experience Panels[viii] and the National Suicide Prevention: Lived Experience Panel.[ix]
To ensure that Scotland’s approach to mitigating and eliminating fuel poverty is informed by people’s direct experience, the Scottish Government should appoint and adequately resource an independent panel of people with lived experience of fuel poverty to inform and advise all aspects of its work in this area.
Download the ALLIANCE 2021 Scottish Election manifesto at the link below.