The first meeting to establish the values of a National Care Service in Scotland has been held between politicians and people with experience of the social care system.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and social care minister Kevin Stewart attended the meeting with the aim of establishing a “social covenant” of principles.
The group is made up of unpaid carers, disability rights activists, a care home resident, a campaigner for the needs of relatives of people in care homes, a social care worker and others with significant experience of the way services are delivered.
Among the recommendations in Derek Feeley’s review of adult social care was for an “explicit social covenant” that all Scotland’s political parties could support and a “relentless focus on involving people who use services, their families and carers” to develop the policy.
Mr Stewart, who will chair the group’s meetings, said the Scottish Government wanted to “listen to their expert views and act on what they tell us”.
Speaking after the first meeting on Tuesday, he said: “We know there were problems in the social care system before Covid arrived and we had already started to think about ways of reforming it, but the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the system and really highlighted the importance of making changes.
“A social covenant will enable us to develop a common set of values around social care, and see those systems as not merely a safety net, but a springboard to allow people to flourish.
“It is extremely important that we listen to people with lived experience – the real experts – to hear about the highs and lows of social care services.
“It is by doing this that we will really find out what’s good about the services people receive, more importantly, what needs to improve for those who use and deliver social care.
“Only by listening to people with real-life experiences – and acting on what we hear – can we create a system that ensures that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.”
Marion McArdle, who has a daughter with complex needs, said: “I feel privileged to be part of this group, since I’m fully expecting it to be a partnership between the Government and the experts, people with real stories and real suggestions on how to change things for the better based on their lived experience of social care in Scotland.
“I’m optimistic that this can only be good thing and a great step forward in getting it right for Scotland’s citizens who are entitled to a social care system which at the very least meets their human rights.”
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