Members Share Their Views on the Proposals for a National Care Service

In February 2021, upon the publication of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care it was determined that the Scottish social care system was in need of a redesign to properly provide for those in receipt of care. The Scottish Government also revealed plans to create a National Care Service – placing the responsibility for social care in the hands of the government at a national level – as well as the launch of a consultation to determine changes that need to be made to facilitate the necessary changes in law.

We, as an organisation which supports Care Experienced people to have their voice heard, strongly believe that Care Experienced people must have a voice in this process and that no significant progress towards a truly beneficial National Care Service can be made until that is the case. We made this clear in our response to the consultation’s launch, the entirety of which can be found here. This includes a call for greater clarity on how these proposals would benefit Care Experienced people and our pledge to support Care Experienced people to get involved in the consultation process.

We did so on Saturday 5th February 2022 as we held our Bairns’ Supper – an event where Care Experienced people could come along to learn more about and have their say on the Scottish Government’s proposal for a National Care Service. The event took on the theme of a Burns’ Supper, where each theme was presented as a course of the meal.

The event kicked off with an ‘Ode tae a National Care Service’ by our Training and Education Coordinator Laurie. After some brief introductions with members of The Promise, our National Representative Body and Who Cares? Scotland all present, attendees were separated into breakout rooms to tuck into their courses.

These discussions have been pulled together to create ‘Being Human: The Bairns’ Supper Report’ which has seven main recommendations. We have broken down some of them below, or you can view the report in full here.

Starter – Makin’ sure oor health and other services wirk thegither fur bairns

Community, early intervention and relationships were all key points of discussion when considering how a National Care Service might look for Care Experienced people.

Informal community support was discussed, with the notion that community style support could allow for the natural development of relationships and sometimes even remove the need for social work support. This would make it more accessible, and in turn may reduce stigma.

Members spoke of the need for integrated and collaborative services, where information is shared across the sector – perhaps even in schools – to provide pupils with an understanding of mental health and the school the means to provide support. This discussion came together in three main recommendations:

Main Course Part 1 – Getting th’ richt support at the right time tae keep families th’gither

The main course explored the kinds of support families need to stay together, and the knowledge, values and skills that enable services and professionals to support this.

The overarching theme here gives the report its name: being human. Services should be warm and welcoming, with a lack of judgement. Workers should be trauma informed and have the opportunity to connect with the people they are supporting rather than only helping in the face of a crisis. Support should also be provided to professional so they are able to after themselves and avoid burnout, as well as training so support can be tailored to the needs of the people they are supporting. They should ultimately be allowed to be human.

Main Course Part 2

Discussing Independent Advocacy, participants shared that it has helped them to speak up at times and in situations they would otherwise feel unable to. The main obstacles many faced were lack of availability, poor understanding of the services and eligibility criteria. To combat this it is suggested that access to it must be universal and truly independent from local authority contracts.

Dessert – Makin’ it cop guid tae shift thro’ services as ye git older

Finally, participants discussed what services would look like in an ideal world. A large part of this discussion centred around consistency of support and postcode lotteries. The importance of good support being available when moving across local authorities was emphasised. Alongside this, was the idea that support should be a lifelong offer. Experiences do not suddenly stop affecting us at a certain age, nor does the need for support leave. When young people experience hardship, they often have the opportunity to go to their family for support and it is felt this should also be the case for Care Experienced people.

The Promise and Scottish Government Representatives present were receptive to the discussion and acknowledged the formation of the National Care Service as an opportunity to make some much needed change. We also discussed the need for proactive consultation with Care Experienced people in the formation of the service, as well as having thoughtful conversation around protected characteristics and the potential for Care Experience to be considered within this.

These are things we look forward to exploring in the future.

We had a diverse range of participants and everyone was asked to complete a quick survey about the event. All participants found it beneficial as a means to get across their views and being heard by decision makers. Check out some of the stats.

If you have any questions about the Bairns’ Supper Report, or the National Care Service and what it means for Care Experienced people get in touch with us by emailing policy@whocaresscotland.org

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities, funding partners and donors who make our work possible.