The Future of Residential Care for Older People in Scotland - Full Report

A strategic examination of the purpose and desired structure of residential care services fit for the aspirations and needs of future generation.


We are delighted to present the report of the Ministerial and COSLA Task Force on Residential Care for Older People, because we believe that older people within Scotland deserve the best that we, as leaders and providers of services, can deliver. The mark of a caring and mature country is how it treats the most vulnerable citizens within its society, particularly its older people.

Recent high profile media coverage of cases where the delivery of care has been well below standard has prompted much thought and discussion about the kind of care we would like to receive in our later years, and where we would like to receive it. The common standpoint we all share is that we would each like our care and the environment we live in to be personal to us and appropriate to our needs and wants, rather than a standard 'one size fits all' approach. Doing so will help older people and their families and carers feel care services are being provided for them and with them, rather than 'done' to them.

Standing still on the issue of the future of residential care simply is not an option. Twenty years from now, we will be in the fortuitous position of more older people living for longer, however, it is also anticipated that a smaller working-age population will be available to supply the care sector workforce that will be needed to look after them. All this in the face of anticipated tighter finances. Our expectations are changing too. As taxpayers, we expect high standards from our public services, and for those people who self-fund their care, they are entitled to expect high value for their money when it comes to the quality of care they receive and the standards of the environment in which they receive it.

The Task Force provides a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the provision of older people's residential care and to provide a blueprint for the future. Seldom are we afforded such an opportunity and it is one which all members of the Task Force and its sub groups embraced with a common purpose of making life better for older people through the provision of sustainable, high quality desirable care, fit for the next twenty to thirty years and beyond.

In creating our Task Force, we approached the organisations that we felt would be able to provide people with the required knowledge and expertise to contribute to a full and frank discussion about the issues existing in the sector today, the barriers to addressing them and the recommendations for doing so. Whilst it would have been understandable for individuals to come to the group ready to fight their corner, we are immensely proud of the manner in which the Task Force worked and arrived at the recommendations you will find in this report.

The Task Force's recommendations are based on older people's needs and wants being at the centre of high quality, safe residential care services, through the development of a skilled high quality workforce, in a flexible environment more fitting people's needs, via sustainable resourcing and commissioning.

Delivering on the Task Force's recommendations, through the development of a strategy for implementation will require national and local politicians and leaders to make strong, and sometimes unpopular, decisions to realign priorities and ensure that the commonality of purpose is maintained through a strength of commitment to the recommendations and, in particular, through joint working across the sector. The recommendations also place a responsibility on the wider community to embrace the care and support we offer older people by making links with the places where our older people live.

We would like to thank all members and contributors for their collective input and support, against an incredibly short timeframe. We hope we have reflected all of the hard work and outputs from all involved to arrive at the set of recommendations in the report.

In publishing these recommendations, we recognise that the work has only just begun. With agreement on the way forward, the crucial work will be the implementation of our recommendations, which, we believe, can only take place with a full public consultation.

By maintaining focus on our long-term vision we believe that Scotland will provide residential care for its older people which will set Scotland at the forefront of countries which are striving to provide the best for their older people.

Douglas Hutchens, Independent Chair Peter Johnson, COSLA, Health and Wellbeing Spokesperson


Email: George Whitton

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