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New principles of care
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 23 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. And, importantly, the Care Inspectorate, which is the national regulatory body for care in Scotland, uses these standards as the basis of the quality of services which they inspect, register and regulate.
The Government asked for the present Standards to be reviewed, to reflect improvement and change in practice since they were first introduced in 2002.
A development process is currently underway to produce the new standards. Health Improvement Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have been involved in extensive consultation with interested parties and stakeholders. It is encouraging that the majority of responders have been from people using services or their families, and people involved in delivering care.
A recent report has been released covering the response to consultation on how the over-arching principles of the new care standards should be set out. The report is essential reading for everyone involved in providing and receiving care. The proposed principles, and changes made as a result of the consultation, are laid out in an appendix to the report. The previous statements of principles for the National Care Standards spoke of, for example: ' your right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times ': in the new standards, this is provisionally worded as: ' I am respected and treated with dignity as an individual.'
The change from 2nd person to first person language is highly significant in my opinion. It gives emphasis to the view that the person is to be at the centre of how services should be planned, delivered and regulated. It also promises to put the voice of the person at the forefront, not just as guidance, but as the central principle to be observed. The same person-centred language is used in all five of the over-arching principles which were produced as a result of the consultation. They were approved by the Cabinet Secretary in February 2016, and promise to be a good foundation for the further consultation on detailed standards which will follow this year.