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Hundreds die waiting for social care packages in Scotland

14-Jan-16
Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

Last year hundreds of people living in Scotland died, while waiting for social care packages to be arranged, the latest shocking figures have revealed.

Campaigner, Motor Neurone Disease patient and founder of GordonsFightback.com, Gordon Aikman has called for the Scottish Government to take drastic action to resolve, what he has described as a ‘cruel crisis’ in social care as a direct result of local council budget cuts.

Campaigner, Gordon Aikman

Mr Aikman receives support from care workers three times a day. He said: “With hundreds of Scots dying for care, this study lays bare a cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils.

“Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity.

“Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help they need to live their life.

“Given our Parliament now has revenue-raising powers, it need not be this way. A caring, compassionate Scottish Government would end the cuts, properly invest in social care and pay care workers the Living Wage they deserve.”

The information comes from a Freedom of Information request, made by Mr Aikman, and revealed that across Scotland, 276 people died in 2015 waiting for their social care packages to start. While some people are waiting more than a year for their care packages to commence.

Furthermore, 12,000 hours of social care approved by local authorities were unmet during one week in 2015, the equivalent of 1,800 unmet hours per day.

’These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland’

Freedom of Information requests were sent to all councils, 26 of 32 of Scotland’s local authorities responded within the allotted time, with only South Lanarkshire refusing the request.

Scottish Care represents all of Scotland’s home care providers. Chief executive, Ranald Mair, said: "Scottish Care is clear that Mr Aikman and others who access care and support services need to have access to the right amount of quality care, at the right levels, at the time they require it. There needs to be more investment in the support available to people in their own homes in order to ensure this is possible.

“We know there are already parts of Scotland where it is proving difficult if not almost impossible to recruit or retain home care staff at the levels that current funding allows. This leads to people being stuck in hospital unnecessarily, as well as unacceptable restrictions on choice and flexibility of services.

“What’s more, if this under-resourcing of home care services continues, we will be facing a real crisis whereby the quality and the sustainability of home care services are severely compromised. This could lead to people who require care services in Scotland being unable to access services in their own homes because these services are simply unable to operate, which is absolutely not the direction that health and social care services in Scotland should be heading in.

“Scottish Care and the home care providers we represent are committed to ensuring safe, high-quality, responsive home support is available and believe there needs to be a review of the funding of these services if they are to be secured into the future."

UNISON represents social care staff in Scotland. Head of policy, Dave Watson, added: “These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland and that includes an undervalued and overwhelmed workforce.

“If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our population and treat people in a dignified way, then we need to invest in it.”

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