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13th February 2016

Countdown – New Care Standards in Scotland

The National Care Standards in Scotland are available to service users and their carers in choosing and evaluating the service they receive. They are service specific standards in developing and improving the quality of the service provided. Also the Care Inspectorate uses these standards as the basis of the regulation of the quality of services which they register and inspect.

I wrote previously about the current review of these standards. In 2017 the Scottish Government intends to implement, after due consultation, a wider and more encompassing set of National Care standards They will be applicable to all health and care contexts: in care homes, domiciliary support, hospitals, dentistry, NHS surgeries and social work and criminal justice services.

The standards are planned to be implemented in three stages:

  • Formal adoption of the overarching principles: Feb 2016.
  • Development and consultation about generic and service specific standards: Feb - Autumn 2016.
  • Generic and specific standards rolled out: April 2017.

In countdown terms, we are at number 3. I promised to keep up to date with developments in this process, and to write about it in this blog.

Current situation

A specific website is now available to inform people about progress being made. This is at and promises to issue regular bulletins on progress.

At present the site lists the agreed overall principles of care. These use human rights language, a new approach receiving overall approval in earlier consultation. The principles are being put forward for adoption by Scottish Government ministers.  They are:

Further short descriptions are provided under each of these principles on the website.

It is interesting to compare them to the principles listed in the current National Care Standards:

  • Dignity;
  • Privacy;
  • Choice;
  • Safety;
  • Realising potential;
  • Equality and Diversity.

The new principles place significant emphasis on first person language, on outcomes and on personal goals and aspirations which services need to work with. These are welcome, and reflect perhaps improving practice since the standards were first introduced in 2002.

What should services do at present?

The new standards will eventually be involved in the grading of your service, so it will be helpful to fine tune your work to be compatible with them as they are clarified.

Firstly, at this stage, I think it would be helpful to formally review your service to see how well it observes the new principles, and where any improvement might be needed. Advocacy, diversity and equality, and social inclusion should figure largely in the review, given the emphasis on people's rights in the new standards. Clearly service users and/or their representatives, staff, and other stakeholders should be involved. It will also be helpful to keep a record of this review, as evidence of improvement and good practice in responding to change.

Secondly, the review will assist you to take part in the promised consultation which should be coming your way this year.

Thirdly, the service needs to keep itself and its stakeholders well informed about the changes planned, and as they happen. This information can come thorough consultation, consulting with the standards website above, and discussions with your inspector. We will also do our bit here to pass on information which comes our way.

That's all for now at stage three of the countdown - getting on board with the changes now as they happen will reduce any later panic or anxiety!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Tony Clarke

Scottish Care Inspectorate Specialist

Tony began care work as a care assistant in care of the elderly here in Scotland in the 1970s. He very much enjoyed promoting activities, interests and good basic care. After a gap to gain a social work qualification, he worked in management of care services, latterly as a peripatetic manager which gave him experience of a wide range of services.

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