Foreword from Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
Every winter brings additional pressures to our health and social care system. But this winter we face those pressures in the midst of the global pandemic of COVID-19. The pressures of responding to COVID-19 and its impact on those who need our services and the frontline staff who provide them with compassion and skill exacerbate too our response to ‘normal’ winter pressures.
We have learned a great deal so far this year. Significant improvements have been made to the practical delivery of services as our understanding of the virus and how it spreads has deepened and as we try to respond directly to the range of challenges it presents, particularly to those who deliver services and those who receive them. That deepening understanding will continue as we learn more from the work of our clinical and scientific experts and we will continue to focus on delivering clearly and swiftly on all the steps we must take to continue to improve our support and guidance to protect as best we can those who are most at risk of harm from both COVID-19 and the challenges of winter. This will always be about reaching the best balance we can between direct and indirect harm to health and we will work to achieve that balance with all our partners in adult social care.
This Plan sets out the measures already in place that must be retained and those that we believe need to be introduced across the adult social care sector. The Plan aims to be as comprehensive as possible, seeking to offer maximum protection for those who use social care support, whether within residential, community or homely settings, and to those who provide that care, including unpaid carers. It is aimed at mitigating risks likely to arise in the short term and should therefore be treated as a flexible document, which may be updated or supported by additional guidance. At its heart it seeks to provide reassurance that the wellbeing and quality of life of those using and providing social care remains a priority.
Rightly, the plan has been the result of both what we have learned so far this year and close work with our partners. It will also rightly, continue to develop as we respond to developments not only in our shared understanding of COVID-19 but to the continuously emerging development and prevalence of the virus across the country and the challenges that winter presents. I am grateful to the many colleagues and organisations who have contributed to this plan and committed to the work and improvements it outlines.
We will be most effective by working together across the whole range of adult social care services. Collaborative and complementary work will continue and develop across local authorities, social care providers, the voluntary sector, communities, NHS organisations and the Scottish Government. Each must recognise their own clear responsibilities to deliver the services and support needed.
And each of us must continue to listen to those who receive these services, and those who deliver them. Their voice is critical.
Scotland’s dedicated social care workforce are on the frontline of our national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They provide critical support to people across Scotland every day. We have seen the strength of their response, the compassion and care they bring every day to the job they do. Our job is to do all we can to support them.
These are anxious times for all those who use social care support and for their families and friends. Anxious times too for those who work in the sector and their loved ones. Whilst the experience so far this year has taught us a great deal it has also given us a very clear insight into just how difficult this winter could be. I do not underestimate any of that but I know that there is real strength and common purpose across this sector and I know that with our colleagues across the adult social care sector we will continue to pull together to drive the improvements needed and deliver the best we can for our fellow citizens over the coming months.