In line with the SNP manifesto and its pledge for the First 100 Days in government, a Social Covenant Steering Group, set up to help guide the development of a National Care Service, met for the first time on Tuesday 20 July.
Establishing the group, made up of people with day-to-day experience of social care, was a key recommendation of Derek Feeley’s Independent Review of Adult Social Care.
Initial membership of the group includes unpaid carers, disability rights activists, a care home resident, a campaigner for the needs of relatives of those in care homes, a social care worker and others with significant experience of the way services are currently delivered. The diverse group includes people from across Scotland with a spread of ages, and social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
The group is expected to help establish a common set of values and beliefs – a social covenant - tol underpin the National Care Service, including treating people with dignity, prioritising the common good and ensuring there is strong oversight of the new service. It will establish underlying and unifying principles to help guide decision-making.
Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart MSP, who will chair the group’s meetings, said:
“A social covenant will enable us to develop a common set of values around social care; and see those systems as not merely a safety net, but a springboard to allow people to flourish.
“It is extremely important that we listen to people with lived experience – the real experts - to hear about the highs and lows of social care services. It is by doing this that we will really find out what’s good about the services people receive, more importantly, what needs to improve for those who use and deliver social care.”
“Only by listening to people with real-life experiences, and acting on what we hear, can we create a system that ensures that everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.”
Marion McArdle, who has a daughter with complex needs, said:
“I feel privileged to be part of this group, since I’m fully expecting it to be a partnership between the government and the experts, people with real stories and real suggestions on how to change things for the better based on their lived experience of social care in Scotland.
“I’m optimistic that this can only be good thing and a great step forward in getting it right for Scotland’s citizens who are entitled to a social care system which at the very least meets their human rights.”
A consultation document on the National Care Service is due to be published on 09 August and the consultation will run until 18 October.