Adult social care 2022 to 2023: joint statement of intent and next steps

Sets out joint commitments by the Scottish Government and COSLA to bring about improvements to the social care system over the next 12 to 18 months. It also reports on the progress of commitments made in the previous statement of intent published in March 2021.

Joint Statement of Intent and Next Steps for Adult Social Care 2022-23

The importance of our community health, social care and social work services has never been clearer. The sector plays a critical role in supporting Scotland's people and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our nation's carers, paid and unpaid, for their commitment and compassion demonstrated throughout the pandemic and in the face of continuing challenges.

Our joint Statement of Intent, published in March 2021, responded to the recommendations made by the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, and set out a range of improvements we will make to Scotland's social care sector, both for those who use the system and those who work in it. These improvements are essential and urgent. Most of them do not require legislation.

We have made solid progress towards delivering the commitments in the Statement of Intent, but we cannot stop there. The ongoing effects of the pandemic continue to place increased demands on the social care sector. Since the publication of the first joint Statement of Intent, the cost crisis has become increasingly widespread, and it has made the need for sustainable improvements to the social care sector even more pressing.

Building on previous work, we have some excellent, integrated practice in Scotland and now we have an opportunity to spread that further, while at the same time ensuring that we have the right resources and support in place to achieve our shared goals. The overarching aim must be to support and enable people to achieve the outcomes that are important to them and to participate in and contribute to the economy and society.

This new Statement of Intent builds on our original joint commitments and places a fresh focus on addressing the twin impacts of the pandemic and the cost crisis. It sets out shared areas of focus across key parts of the social care sector for the Scottish Government and Local Government in the coming year. Our aim continues to be to improve the experience and outcomes of the people who access social care support and those who work in the sector. These commitments can be delivered now within the strong partnerships that exist locally and nationally. It is vital that we continue to strengthen and improve the delivery of social care support on an ongoing basis, and we must work together to develop and deliver the changes that are needed.

Our shared hope is that the commitments made in the Statement will all lead to improved quality of care and support, and better outcomes for people. A vital aspect of promoting the best possible outcomes for people is to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are cared for at home, or in a community setting as close to family and friends as possible. We must make sure that whole system processes are in place to allow people to access the right care, at the right time, and in the right place.

Enabling people to access high-quality care in their community and home environment allows them to recover more quickly from illness or injury and, for some, to live fuller lives with additional support through services like Hospital at Home and step-down Intermediate Care services. Our Discharge without Delay Improvement Programme will continue to lead the way to support people to leave hospital as soon as possible. We are taking a partnership approach to this improvement, recognising that there are pressures and action required across the whole system. Through the improvements set out within this Statement of Intent, we intend that people can access the right care in the right setting, whether that is at home or in an acute setting. We aim to enhance capacity across the system allowing those requiring acute care to receive it when they are most in need as well as those who require care and support when they leave hospital.

Over the next year, we will:

  • Continue to drive forward the Discharge without Delay Improvement Programme, and ensure that multi-agency discharge planning starts as soon as possible in the person's journey, involving all parties from health, social care, housing and third sector, as well as the individual and their family
  • Continue to embed human rights in the provision of social care support
  • Ensure that people have a voice in how social care is delivered
  • Take a preventative approach, including through the development of the Getting It Right For Everyone (GIRFE) practice model
  • Establish a Social Care Workforce Programme to continue to deliver the type of improvement the social care workforce requires
  • Continue to deliver our Fair Work agenda, ensuring those who work in care are offered fulfilment, security, opportunity, respect and effective voice
  • Support learning and development through a working group jointly led by NES and SSSC
  • Publish a Carers Strategy under a Scottish Government banner and work with a range of partners to implement the actions it recommends
  • Establish a National Improvement Steering Group, jointly chaired by COSLA, SOLACE and the Scottish Government, to lead on the development of an overarching National Improvement Programme for Social Care and Community Health
  • Publish revised Self-Directed Support (SDS) guidance and establish an improvement programme to implement it consistently

More detail of these commitments, along with other work that we will carry out across the next year, are set out in Annex A.

We will also continue to progress those commitments from the original Statement of Intent that are not yet complete.

There are a number of distinct but interconnected commitments in the document. The improvements we have committed to bring about will require leadership from across Local Government, the NHS and the broader Health and Social Care sector. We will look to senior leaders in these sectors to work together to help shape and deliver sustainable improvement in social care. We will establish an oversight group to drive the implementation of these commitments, bringing together partners from the public sector and the Third Sector to lead these improvements in a joined-up and strategic way.

We will work through existing groups, such as the national workforce development forum and the national improvement forum, on the specific actions set out in this Statement of Intent. We will make sure that agendas and programmes of work are complementary and contribute to our overall goal, while avoiding duplication and divergence.

Partnership working across the public sector and co-design with people who use services and who work in the sector are the golden threads that run through all of this work and will be crucial to successful improvement. Putting the voice of lived experience and the expertise of the people who work in social care and social work at the heart of this is essential.

The people of Scotland need to be at the centre of community health and care. Our culture, approach, support and services must be person-centred with human rights at their very heart. We must build on and improve the progress made through integration and ensure that community health and social care support and services link with all of the other services that make a difference to people's lives, including education, transport and housing. We must continue to make Scotland's care services the best they can be, and to ensure that people across Scotland can access the support they need in the right place and at the right time.

The challenges posed by the cost crisis and the ongoing impact of the pandemic will make it harder to deliver change, but make it more important than ever to do so. The social care sector has a key role to play in supporting people during the difficult times the country faces, and we have a responsibility to ensure it is as robust and responsive as possible.

Humza Yousaf MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care

Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care

Councillor Paul Kelly
COSLA Health and Social Care Spokesperson



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