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30th November 2015

New standards for care services in Scotland

What are the National Care Standards?

The National Care Standards in Scotland are a set of indicators for the quality of regulated care services. They were devised and published after extensive consultation with service users, carers, and services themselves.

Each of the types of care services have their own set of applicable standards, although all are based on common principles which express people's rights and expectations when receiving a care service. The main principles underlying the National Care Standards are: dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential and equality and diversity.

The National Care Standards are used by service users and their carers in choosing and evaluating the service they receive. Services themselves work to these standards in developing and improving the quality of the service provided. Also the Care Inspectorate uses these standards as the basis of the inspection of the quality of services which they inspect, register and regulate.

Since the standards have been used since 2001, the Scottish Government decided that an overall review was needed to ensure that best current practice in care services was being maintained and encouraged.

How the review was carried out

The review was carried out by the Care Inspectorate and Health Improvement Scotland, the scrutiny body for Health Services. In 2014 an extensive consultation was carried out involving service users, national organisations, individual services and other stakeholders. The main areas for consideration included whether there should be comprehensive care standards covering both health and social care .

A further area consulted on was whether Care standards should be developed from a perspective with an explicit focus on human rights, and how these influenced the expectations on care services. This is a step ahead from the original standards, which did not specifically deal with people's rights.

Outcome of consultation

The proposals consulted upon were well supported with 92% of respondents agreeing that new standards should take a human rights-based approach. 89% of those who provided a view supported the development of overarching quality standards which apply across health and social care.

After the consultation, a Project Board and a Development group have been set up to develop the new standards, taking account of the views received. These groups have already begun working with a range of relevant stakeholders to take the work forward.

Future work and implementation

It is anticipated that further specific consultation will take place over the coming year, into 2016. This will produce draft generic standards for consideration by stakeholders. The Project Board expect to recommend the new standards to the Government, and to release a draft set of standards to be gradually implemented from 2017.

The timescale has been lengthy in this development. However, the outcome should ensure a fully agreed set of standards closely based on people's ongoing expectation of quality in how their care is provided to them.

Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor

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