Homecare sector ‘on its knees’, says Scottish Care leader

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive, Scottish Care

Insufficient progress has been made in ensuring homecare services are safe and sustainable for Scotland’s older citizens with the sector facing imminent demise, a representative body has argued.

The message was delivered today (Friday 17 May) at the National Care at Home and Housing Support Conference in Glasgow by Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care.

Unveiling a briefing paper based on his conference address – 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 that 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 in Scotland 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.’

Dr Macaskill highlighted nine key areas where urgent work was required to stabilise the homecare sector: the Scottish Living Wage; time and task commissioning of care; approaches to prevention; access to self-directed support for older people; recruitment of staff; qualifications and the older care workforce; integration of health and social care; the use of technology; and funding of social care.

This week Scottish Care has written to Convention of Scottish Local Authorities calling for an urgent roundtable including the Scottish government and the care regulator to address the immediate challenges facing the care at home and housing support sector.

Dr Macaskill said: ‘We believe we urgently need to get round the table to come up with some practical solutions or we will not be able to continue to deliver vital services in the months ahead.

‘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.’

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman was also due to address the event.