National Care Service - adult social care: equality evidence review

Overview of evidence related to equality in adult social care in Scotland. It is part of a collection of contextual evidence papers, setting out key sources of information about social care and related areas in Scotland.

2. Context

A wide range of social care support and services are accessed by people of all ages in Scotland. Social care support can be provided in people’s homes or wider community or in residential settings such as care homes, and is funded publicly and privately.

An estimated 1 in 25 people of all ages in Scotland were reported as receiving social care support and services at some point during 2020/21[1] [2]. This includes an estimated:

  • 93,280 people who received home care[3];
  • 130,000 people who had an active community alarm and/or a telecare service;
  • 44,000 people who received funding towards a long stay care home place;
  • and 6,300 people who were supported during a short stay in a care home (such as for ‘respite’ (short breaks)[4] or for reablement)[5].

Further data and evidence on the profile of the population who access care and support in Scotland can be found in People who Access Social Care and Unpaid Carers in Scotland.

Unpaid carers provide care and support to family members, friends and neighbours, who may be living with disability, physical or mental ill-health, frailty or substance misuse. The number of carers living in Scotland was estimated to be around 700,000 to 800,000 before the pandemic, however there is evidence to suggest this has since increased. In 2020, it was estimated that there were around 839,000 adult carers living in Scotland[6]. However, Carers UK estimate that the number of unpaid carers in Scotland could have increased to over 1 million since the coronavirus outbreak[7]. Further data and evidence about unpaid carers in Scotland can be found in People who Access Social Care and Unpaid Carers in Scotland.

The social care sector is a major employer in Scotland. In 2020, there were 134,640 people employed in the adult social care sector, with a whole time equivalent of 100,060[8]. Further data and evidence about the social care workforce in Scotland can be found in The Adult Social Care Workforce in Scotland.

2.1 Protected Characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a protected characteristic. The protected characteristics specified in the Act are: age; disability; sex; pregnancy and maternity; gender reassignment; sexual orientation; race; religion or belief; and marriage and civil partnership[9]. With the exception of marriage and civil partnership[10], each of these protected characteristics are set out in the subsequent sections. An additional section on socioeconomic status is included, although this is not a protected characteristic, because it is widely recognised that socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with inequality of outcomes[11].



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