National Care Service: contextual paper - easy read

Describes the current status of social work in Scotland. It is part of a collection of papers, setting out key information about social care and related areas linked to the development of the National Care Service.

Social work in Scotland

Social work services support people to live independently.

They also support people who are at risk of harm.

Social work is very important to support Scotland to be fairer, and to make sure everyone has the same choices and chances.

Social work looks at the person as a whole and gives them support if they need it.

Before starting work as a social worker you must do a course and register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

In 2021 there were more than 10 thousand social workers registered with the SSSC.

Of these, more than 6 thousand work in local councils.

Social work services help to:

  • support people to live healthy lives
  • keep people safe
  • make sure people are treated fairly and have the same choices and chances
  • protect human rights
  • challenge discrimination – when someone is being treated differently or unfairly because of who they are

Social workers build relationships with people to understand what a person or family wants and needs.

They will use advocacy if needed to make sure people and families are supported to live the lives they want to live.

Advocacy supports a person to have their voice heard.

Social workers challenge ways of working and services that do not protect equality and human rights.

Social work in Scotland has 3 specialist services for:

  • justice – working with people who have broken the law
  • children
  • adults

We know that people do not always fit into one of these services - for example:

  • an adult with support needs may also be part of a family with children
  • a young person could be moving from children's services to adult services
  • a person could have broken the law and they are supported and checked on by a social worker

They may also need support with things like housing, addiction problems, or being a parent.

Social workers work with people who need extra support in their lives.

Social work has changed a lot since a law in 1968 set out the rules for what a social worker should do.

It is now time to think about how social work services might look in a National Care Service.

Changes in social work policy, plans and laws have not always worked well.

Social work sometimes changes too slowly or there are too many changes.

There are not enough social workers.

This has made many people:

  • not enjoy being a social worker
  • not want to be a social worker any more

Social care services that support people with daily living so they can be as independent as possible.

They include things like:

  • support at home from a paid carer with things like getting washed and dressed and using the toilet
  • meals on wheels
  • home adaptations like ramps and stairlifts

On 20 June 2022, the National Care Service (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

It wants to make social care services in Scotland better.

It wants early intervention and prevention to be the most important thing – services that try to stop problems from happening or stop things from getting worse.

The National Care Service Bill follows other new policies and plans that are supported in:



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