Batting it back to the Government on health and social care reform

There’s been no summer recess for Age Scotland’s policy team.  Callum Chomczuk explains how the Charity has been meeting the challenge of gathering older people’s views on health and social care reform.  

So it’s summer and in the policyworld that means one thing; death by consultation. Governments and Parliamentary Committees often use the time just before the summer  to release dozens of consultations looking for input from stakeholder about any given policy, and this year has been no different.

Age Scotland has already responded to Joe Fitzpatrick MSP’s pavement parking consultation, and to two inquiries from the Finance Committee; one into the impact of ageing demographics and the Scottish Budget.

However of all the issues we are examining there is one in particular that will have a wide impact on the lives of older people, and that is the Government’s proposals on Health and Social Care Integration. The problems with the current system are well-rehearsed but nonetheless worth mentioning; we still have a significant number of older people unable to leave hospital because care packages are not ready, we have an unacceptably high number of care packages failing which leads to older people being shifted into hospital, and more often than not Councils and hospitals pass the buck for responsibility of your care to each other. The Government published its plans for integrating these services back in May, and there are grounds for optimism that this re-design will improve the outcomes for you, the service user.

As you might expect, Age Scotland wants to give this issue the fullest consideration, so I spent the last week in July meeting with around 70 people at events in Irvine, Dumfries, Galashiels and Glasgow to discuss their respective views on the proposals. 

For me it proved to be an incredibly useful series of events. Not only did I get detailed feedback from each of the groups, but they raised a number of issues that quite frankly the Government hadn’t even considered in its consultation. These included; the impact of low wages for workers on standards of care in the community, why the third sector wasn’t a voting partner in the proposals for Health and Care Partnerships as they were in Change Fund Partnerships, why was there no discussion about the links with housing, and why was there no proposal about capping care home costs or the means testing threshold for support.

I think most would agree these issues are not peripheral, but rather at the very heart of concerns about care services. Age Scotland is in the process of completing its response and will submit it in the next few weeks. For anyone that is interested it will be available on the Charity’s website from September, and of course we will continue to keep everyone up to date about how the Government Care proposals are progressing, and how they have responded to the concerns of older people.

Callum Chomczuk is Senior Policy and Parliamentary Officer for Age Scotland.

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