By Karen Reid, Chief Executive

Welcome to the Care Inspectorate’s new blog spot where I hope we can create a new forum that gives everyone an opportunity to share ideas, explore insights and learn from each other.

It seems fitting that I should write this first post on the radical and progressive new Health and Social Care Standards which will be rolled out from April 2018. They will be at the heart of everything we do and put the spotlight on what really matters – the experience of the person who uses care. This keen focus on human rights and wellbeing is one of the features that make these new standards truly unique and innovative.

They are significantly more rights-based and outcome-focused than Scotland’s first national care standards which were introduced in 2002, with 26 standards for different social care types and more than 2,400 statements, focused on inputs.

In 2015, the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland were commissioned to develop new standards for all health and social care. With major public input, five core principles were agreed: dignity and respect, compassion, responsive care and support, be included, and personal wellbeing. Five main standards followed, with under 200 statements. They are underpinned by human rights and wellbeing principles.

What does it mean for people experiencing care?

Almost everyone will use a care service at some point in their lives. Whether that might be a nursery, childminder, a care-at-home service or a care home, more people of all ages are coming into contact with care.

The new standards are no longer just focused on regulated care settings, but for use in social care, early learning and childcare, children’s services, social work, health provision, and community justice. So, they will help us ensure that anyone’s experience of care is the best it can be, meeting the needs, rights and choices of the individual.

In a word, the new standards are empowering. They are much more person-led than before, with almost all of the statements starting with “I experience…” or “I am…”. This aims to ensure that quality is considered through the perspective of the individual experiencing care, as opposed to describing specifically what a care professional should do.

The new standards are outcome-focused and describe what the consequence of good care should be, rather than how it should be delivered. For example, the old standards contained a lot of fixed inputs which were expected of service providers, rather than describing what people should experience. The new Health and Social Care Standards see rights from the perspective of a person experiencing care, and set out how these rights should be experienced in practice rather than on paper. 

What does this mean for care providers?

These standards ensure care professionals reflect on their practice from the viewpoint of the person experiencing care. This should help people and organisations to work together to support people to direct their own care.

Similarly, the old standards contain detailed lists of many of the policies and written procedures expected of service providers. The new Health and Social Care Standards describe how policies and procedures and, more importantly, how they are implemented by staff, can impact on someone’s actual experience.

From April 2018, the law requires that the Care Inspectorate take these standards into account when regulating and inspecting care. Our inspections have already moved from finding out whether something is done ‘correctly’ to asking ‘how successful is this in improving experiences and outcomes for people?’. The new standards reinforce this approach completely. We will use them to continue to champion good care wherever we find it and to work closely with providers and support them to improve, where needed.

These new standards mean new ways of thinking. They also provide an opportunity to shape the way we all would like our care to be designed and delivered in future.

We expect care services, commissioners and others to start reflecting on these new standards now and, from April 2018, using them in planning and delivering care.

If you would like to learn more about the new Health and Social Care Standards go to: