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Countdown to New National Care Standards
New combined health and social care standards are to be finalised in Scotland from April 2017, and introduced from April 2018. I have been writing about the introduction process in a countdown fashion; 3 being the original national consultation, 2 - the approval of general principles governing the standards, and now we are at stage 1 - nearly zero! The country is asked to contribute their views on the form and content of draft standards to enable their finalisation. They are now available for reading online or via download.
Views can be contributed online, by post and at specific 'engagement' events. Organisations as well as individuals are invited to contribute.
The process of applying the standards
In announcing this stage of consultation, the Government stated that:
''The new standards represent a significant development for people in Scotland. They comprehensively set out what care and support should actually look and feel like for people every time they use health and social care services. For people familiar with the 2002 standards, the new standards will look and feel very different. They have moved away from particular settings or registration categories, are much more outcome-focused with less emphasis on provider inputs, and much more person-centred so that people’s care experiences are at the heart of a common understanding of quality.'
The scope of the standards is very wide: they will be seen as applicable across all services where care can be expected. Because they are generic, they can apply to all traditional care services. However, three of the seven standards will be specific to certain care contexts: where people are accommodated; where liberty is legally restricted, and where children and young people receive social work care and support.
Perhaps surprisingly the standards will apply to early years education and community justice services, as well as to a wider range of health services. Scrutiny and regulation bodies, such as the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will all work to these same national standards. Some non-regulated care services will also be expected to work to the same standard of care.
The new standards are rights based, and focus primarily on personal outcomes for people who use the service concerned.
What are they like?
There are seven standards, and each of them are laid out using statements under the overall principles of:
- Dignity and respect
- Responsive care and support
I think the team producing these standards have nailed it. The previous National Care Standards were laid out in over twenty booklets, with some ambiguity of which types of service they were to be applied. The new standards are simpler, clearer, and altogether more user-friendly in my opinion.
The standards had the capacity to become very complex, with specialist services, overall principles, and a range of care needs needing to be included. Admirably, we have one simple, short document covering all services. (Although there will be continued specific standards, in particular contexts such as health care.) Since all services will be working towards the same goals, and will be evaluated and regulated in that light, then consistent quality and fairness of approach will hopefully be much easier to discern and to achieve.
(Even more) person-centred:
As the Government stated, there will be less focus on what the service provider does, or should do. There will also be more emphasis on the views of the person who is receiving the service, and on how their personal outcomes are worked towards.
This is reflected in the language of the new standards: whereas the previous National Care Standards would say 'you can expect..', the new language is 'I can expect...'
Particular standards which stood out for me were:
1.7: 'I experience encouragement and warmth, and my strengths and achievements are celebrated.'
1.11: 'I am recognised by people who support and care for me as an expert in my own experiences, needs and wishes.'
1.34: If I experience care and support in a group, I can choose to make my own meals, snacks and drinks, with support if I need it.'
The window for responding to the consultation is 12 weeks, with a deadline of 22 January for submissions.
Care services are well-advised now to consult staff, service users and stakeholders and to submit responses to the consultation via this link. This will ensure that people have their say in any further development, or inclusions which need to be made.
Secondly, the Government has announced that the Standards will be finalised by April 2017, and then applied from April 2018. This gives a breathing space where staff development and training, as well as quality performance reviews, can be tailored so that the new standards can be met when they are fully introduced and applied.
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