People using care services must have their rights protected and should receive high-quality, safe, compassionate care.

That’s the joint call from Scotland’s social care watchdog, the Care Inspectorate, and the Highland Senior Citizens' Network.

It came as senior figures from both organisations met in Inverness to discuss the quality of care for older people across the Highlands.

The National Care Standards – setting out the minimum standards of care that people are entitled to – are currently being reviewed and both organisations agreed that the new standards need to focus on human rights. 

Annette Bruton, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said:

“Hearing the views of the Highland Senior Citizens’ Network was very helpful. People across the Highlands are entitled to excellent care. Most care homes and care at home services perform well, but there remain some that are not up to scratch. Our job is not just to inspect these services, but help them improve and if care services don’t improve, we will not hesitate to take further action. We work closely with NHS Highland, the council and other providers to support improvement where possible. 

“We are in the process of changing the way we inspect at the moment. Public expectations are rising and standards need to rise too. Getting the views of people who use care services is really important for us. A big part of our inspection involves the inspector speaking with residents, families and friends.

“We inspect every care home at least once a year – and much more regularly where we have concerns. We look at the quality of care, the staffing, the management and the physical environment of the home. Each theme is graded on a scale from unsatisfactory to excellent. Most perform well, but where we have concerns we can issue requirements and recommendations for change. In serious cases, we can serve a formal Improvement Notice which is legally enforceable. In the most extreme cases, we can propose to close a care service subject to an appeal to the sheriff. 

“We also investigate complaints about care homes - anonymously if needed. In many ways we rely on members of the public being our eyes and ears. Last year we received over 3,000 complaints and we uphold the majority of complaints we investigate. People with concerns about a care service can call us on 0345 6009527 or visit .” 

Dr Ian McNamara, of the Highland Senior Citizens’ Network, said:

"We are reassured that the Inspectorate will not tolerate care that fails to meet its standards. HSCN applauds excellent care when it is provided and we, along with the Care Inspectorate, wish to see such care become the norm across Scotland.

"HSCN has a critical role in representing service users, especially those who cannot speak for themselves, and on their behalf we look forward to continuing fruitful engagement with the Inspectorate."