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30th January 2016

New standards for health and social care in Scotland

Registered health and social care services in Scotland are inspected and regulated using the National Care Standards. These are also 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.

The standards have been in place since 2002, and have been the basis of the work of the Care Commission and latterly the Care Inspectorate. I’ve written previously about the plans by the Scottish Government to update and improve them.

The Government carried out an extensive consultation from 2014, which has now concluded. The majority of people consulted were in favour of the need to streamline the standards, to have both health and social care services operating to the same set of standards, and for the new standards to be based on human rights. The rights approach is seen as providing further assurances of a person centred approach, and protection for all people using services.

Future work and implementation

A project board and a development group have been set up to develop the new standards, taking full account of the views received in consultation. These have already begun working with a range of relevant stakeholders to take the work forward.

It is anticipated that further specific consultation will take place in 2016. This will produce draft generic standards for consideration by stakeholders. The project board expects to recommend the new standards to the Government, and release a draft set of standards to be gradually implemented from 2017.

Apart from being rights-based, the consultation outcome approved that the standards should contain aspirational quality targets for services as well as essential elements of good practice. It was said that this would be of assistance in developing the quality of services in an ongoing way.

Anticipating the new approach

Although new procedures and policies may be needed, or existing ones amended, the change in how services operate should be manageable by most. The target for the introduction of the new standards has already been deferred to at least 2017, giving managers and providers time to consider and introduce any changes which may need to be made.

I will flag up any new information which may arise regarding the new standards, and I trust that services will be consulted directly on draft versions in the lead up to their introduction.

Reviewing the significance of rights

I think it is important at this stage to review the significance of rights in each service. Although it could be said that rights are relevant to virtually all aspects of care, there are central points which would benefit from a fresh look:

  • Charters of rights and information about what the service provides
  • Advocacy services
  • Equality and diversity policies and procedures
  • Staff recruitment and training
  • Participation and inclusion in service planning and delivery.

As new information comes in I hope to discuss how services should be adapting, and I will describe in detail how some of the above areas relate to people's rights in the services.

The existing standards were major forces for change when they were introduced, and we trust that the coming changes will help to continue the progress in quality.

Tony Clarke – QCS Expert Scottish Care Contributor

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