As Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care - indeed the first Minister to have social care in a ministerial portfolio - I am very proud to launch this consultation which seeks views on our proposals to improve the way we deliver social care in Scotland.
The importance of our social care services has never been clearer. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our nation's carers, paid and unpaid, for the commitment and compassion we have seen throughout the pandemic.
I believe social care services, just like health care services, should be provided on a truly universal basis. I want our social care system to consistently deliver high quality services to every single person who needs them, across Scotland.
The Scottish Government commissioned the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, during the pandemic, because it was clear we needed to do things better in future. I acknowledge the many contributions to the Independent Review on Adult Social Care and have heard both the views you have expressed and the insights and experiences that you shared; they were an invaluable part of that review process.
I am committed to implementing the recommendations in the report of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care and staying true to the spirit of that report by building a system with human rights at the heart of it. I am listening and want to ensure that care is delivered in a way that enables people to live a happy and fulfilled life – not simply care that is delivered to suit the system. As one of the contributors to the Review said: "social care should be a springboard not a safety net".
The Independent Review acknowledged that current structures have not fully delivered the improvements intended to be achieved by integration of health and social care and recommended the creation of a National Care Service, with Scottish Ministers being accountable for adult social care support.
I believe however that it is right for this consultation to look beyond simply the creation of a national service for adult social care. The ambition of this government is to go much further, and to create a comprehensive community health and social care service that supports people of all ages. This will support the provision of care that wraps around families and smooth transitions between different categories of care for everyone, taking account of individual circumstances, the communities they live in and their wishes.
If we get social care delivery right, we can help people live the kind of life they want to live; going to college, getting a job, remaining in their own communities for longer. Peoples' lives can be transformed.
Absolutely vital to this is ensuring that our invaluable social care workforce feel happy, respected and fulfilled in their role. By rewarding and valuing our workforce we recruit and retain great staff. It is crucial that unpaid carers are supported to have a life alongside caring, and that they are able to sustain and improve their own health and wellbeing. They must be involved in the decisions that affect them and those they care for.
Social care should no longer be seen as a service of crisis intervention but one which is there to help and support people at the earliest stage, preventing deterioration and people getting into crisis situations.
Social care is an investment in our communities and our economy, so that everyone can take their part in society.
A National Care Service will provide us with consistency, equity and fairness, and the accountability needed to deliver high quality services across Scotland.
As we undertake the work to create a National Care Service, we will review the systems, remove unwarranted duplication of functions and make best use of the public purse. I want to ensure that the new service is designed around the needs of those who access services and supports the needs of the workforce. My priority is that the interests of those who use and deliver social care are firmly at the heart of decision making in building a stronger system.
We are at the beginning of a journey to improve social care in Scotland. We will only get this right with your support.
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care