Adult social care - winter preparedness plan: 2020 to 2021

This plan sets out the measures already in place that must be retained and those that need to be introduced across the adult social care sector over winter 2020 to 2021.


Adult Social Care is there for people over 18 who need help with day-to-day living because of illness, disability, or older age. It can be provided in many settings, including at home, in care homes or in the wider community. The population receiving social care and support is diverse, with wide ranging needs and circumstances:

  • Around 245,000 (1 in 20) people receive social care and support in Scotland.
  • Around 60,000 people in Scotland are receiving home care at any one point.
  • The majority (77%) of people requiring social care services or support are aged 65 and over.
  • People residing in a care home tend to be older, with around 90% of residents aged 65 and over and 1 in 2 aged 85 plus.
  • However not all people receiving social care are older. Younger adults with physical and learning disabilities or mental health conditions also receive vital support.
  • Poorer health and wider inequalities within any social care cohort will heighten the risk from Covid-19.

Within the context of the lockdown and the wider impacts of the pandemic this year the entire population has faced challenges:

  • For the 90,000 people with dementia COVID-19 has presented many challenges for them and their carers.
  • For people with autism and learning disabilities the challenges have been magnified.
  • It is recognised that people with a sensory impairment and those with communication needs, have faced particular challenges during the pandemic. As a priority, the needs of this group must be considered when they access health care facilities and communications must be available in appropriate language and accessible formats.

The system of adult social care is planned, commissioned and delivered by a wide range of partners. This includes organisations in the public, independent and third sectors. Ultimately the people most critical to the delivery of safe, high quality adult social care services this winter will be those in the front line workforce.

  • There were 206,400 people employed in the social service sector in December 2019. There are many more individuals supporting delivery through our multidisciplinary health and social care teams.
  • It is also important we recognise the valuable role of unpaid carers with an estimated total of around 690,000 carers living in Scotland, including 29,000 young carers.

This plan was drafted following consultation with a wide range of organisations across the social care sector, including those represented on the Pandemic Response Adult Social Care Group: Local Government, the NHS, Health and Social Care Partnerships, Regulators, the Third Sector, Trade Unions and professional bodies. This Plan will be delivered alongside Scotland’s Strategic Framework which set out the methodology for local tiering this winter.



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