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This autumn’s public consultation on the National Health and Care Standards (or, the Standards) will be a really important opportunity for people across Scotland to express what aspects of our health and social care needs matters most to them.

Many of us will make use of a health or social care service at some point in our lives and most of us are likely to have at least one family member using a care service at any given time. This covers a diverse range of care services, from childminding and daycare for children in their early years, housing support and care at home for adults, to hospitals, clinics and care homes. 

The Standards set out what we should expect when we use health and social services across Scotland and help people who provide and work in services to understand what standards of care are expected, as well as organisations planning and commissioning services.

Scotland’s first National Care Standards were introduced in 2002, quite some time ago, and they applied only to registered social care services, such as care homes and nurseries, and regulated independent healthcare, such as hospices and private hospitals. During this period, our expectations of care services have increased.  We now have a greater understanding of people’s rights and we know more about what makes a real difference to people when using care services. 

So, the new Standards will have a far wider impact across health, social work and social care and will apply to many more people’s experiences of using services. That’s why it’s important that you have your say, alongside people using services, providers and other agencies. 

Last year, a public consultation confirmed widespread support for the new Standards to be based on human rights and the wellbeing of people using service and overarching principles were agreed earlier in 2016:

  • Dignity and respect

  • Compassion

  • Be included

  • Responsive care and support

  • Wellbeing

The draft Standards have now been produced, and set out in more detail what these Principles will look like for people using services.

The new standards are different from the 2002 in three key ways, and far more radical. First, they are decoupled from settings. This means that the standards of care you experience should be consistent across all health and social care provision, rather than having as at present different standards for different settings. This is really important as many people use more than one type of care. The standards don’t just apply to the delivery of care, but to planning, assessment, commissioning and delivery. This is important because the way care is planned and commissioned can impact significantly on the quality of people’s experience, and the way people’s needs are assessed can impact dramatically on whether they experience the right care for them.

Second, the standards are much more outcome-focused. Rather than looking at technical inputs like policies and size of rooms, the standards speak to whether these lead to positive outcomes for people. This will help support more innovative and new models of care, but also help ensure that inspections are focused on how care is helping to deliver positive outcomes, rather than simply meeting minimum standards.

Third, the standards are more person-centred. They describe the high-quality, person-centred care we would all like to experience for ourselves and our loved ones. That is why the principle of compassion is so important and runs throughout the standards. It’s something that is hard to measure, but easy to see when absent. The quality of personal interactions, ensuring that “the system” is there to help individuals in ways that suit them, and that people’s care is the focus of staff attention are all really important and should inform assessments of quality. In drafting the standards, almost every sentence begins with the word “I”. It might seem a small thing, but putting people first – quite literally – is the starting point for excellent care.

The public consultation is an important opportunity for you, and your networks, to shape the future of health and social care; it is anticipated that the final Standards will be agreed and rolled out from April 2017.

As well as the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland regulating each individually registered care service, we now work together with other scrutiny bodies to carry out strategic inspections.  These inspections look at how the wider health, social work and social care system is working for children or adults in a local authority and health board area.  Therefore the new Standards will be used to inspect how well people’s care needs are met on both a strategic and an individual service level.

Although the Standards are the responsibility of the Scottish Government, they are owned by all of us.  They are mainly written for people using services, but will be also used by people managing and working in services to improve the quality of care they provide, as well as by organisations inspecting care. They will provide a framework for individually registered care services, but they will also be relevant to all care services including those not inspected by the Care Inspectorate or Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

In the spirit of partnership, a broad spectrum of organisations has been involved in steering this work and our thanks go to everyone for their advice and support.

The 12-week public consultation on the draft Standards launches today (Friday 28th October) and will run until January, so please have your say. We would encourage you to participate and to share your views, and those of your families and friends too.

Find out more at www.newcarestandards.scot

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