National Care Service - social care and caring experiences: evidence

Overview of recent evidence on experiences of social care and unpaid caring 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.

This document is part of a collection

4. Conclusion

This paper has presented recent evidence on the experiences of social care and caring in Scotland. Based on the Health and Care Experience Survey, this data showed that people’s experiences of social care and support have generally worsened between 2019-20 and 2021-22, as overall satisfaction with services has declined and unpaid care has increased. Finally, it has shown that disadvantaged groups (by disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and deprivation) report comparatively higher rates of unmet social care need.

The Covid-19 pandemic – which occurred in between the two survey years – had fundamental implications for all health and social care, and is likely to have contributed to the trends outlined in this paper. Other research undertaken about experiences of social care during the pandemic, while not covering the identical timeframes to the period covered by HACE, indicate some of the factors which may have contributed to the findings reported in this paper. For example, a survey of people receiving care at home, their families and unpaid carers, and care at home staff undertaken between August and September 2020[8] found that over half of respondents had experienced care reducing or stopping, family members were increasingly providing care, either by choice or necessity, and reductions in visits and activities and loss of routine impacted on respondents’ well-being and mental health. Respondents also expressed a need for greater communication between services and service users.

Similarly a Care Inspectorate report[9] into delivering care at home and housing support services found that maintaining the usual levels of choice and control for people who experience care was a challenge during the pandemic. Public health guidelines impacted significantly on how services could be delivered, choices became limited and changes to care packages were often unavoidable due to reduced staffing capacity. The Carers UK State of Caring 2021 Report[10] also highlighted the impact of the pandemic for carers, and the longer term impacts of managing in a very difficult environment for a prolonged period of time on the health, well-being and finances of carers.

The Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland found that there are many strengths in the Scottish system of social care support but a gap between the intent of legislation and the experiences of people receiving support. The evidence presented here contributes to the evidence base to help inform the development of the National Care Service.

How to access background or source data

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