It’s a time of upheaval and more change in health and social care.
Further cuts in care and support services have been approved at recent Integration Joint Board meetings, at the same time as the new Carers Act is about to be implemented. Meanwhile, the Scottish Government recently announced the extension of free personal care to those under 65 – known widely as “Frank’s Law”.
Cuts to older people’s services, housing support and other services have been predicated on the assumption that family carers will do more to provide support to loved ones. However, GCVS and others have consistently argued that without a full equality, social and financial impact assessment of such cuts, further damage will be done to families and to communities. A lack of any gender impact assessment risks the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers, at the very time that the Carers Act is meant to strengthen their rights and access to support.
Shona Stephen, Chief Executive of Queens Cross Housing Association, continues as the third sector representative on the Integration Joint Board, challenging the direction of travel, and bringing the collective experience and knowledge of the sector to the table. However, without a vote on the IJB, the sector, patient and carer voices still struggle to be heard.
Following local elections in May last year, new membership has brought a new dynamic to the IJB. This has been welcome as there are more questions being asked about key developments and strong arguments are emerging for greater clarity and accountability. GCVS has long argued for this.
At a recent GCVS event on the new Carers Act, due to be implemented in April of this year, carers and voluntary sector attendees highlighted the struggles faced by families trying to access support in social care. Councillor Mhairi Hunter, the City Council’s Executive lead for health and social care, heard first hand the concerns of the sector about the new Act, coming as it does without any clarity on additional resources. More will be expected of front line third sector services at a time when demand continues to increase.
Health and care continues to face significant upheaval; the recently approved GP contract will bring further change to a key service, which touches the lives of most families in Glasgow. Whether those changes will be positive remains to be seen.
In all of this, the very people that integration was meant to help are not always better off. The recent report from the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee on integration and stakeholder engagement confirmed the experience of many – that the expertise and voices of people and community front line services are being lost in the complexity and bureaucracy created as a result of Integration, and as Integration Authorities struggle to make sense of their expanded role.
A critical point is being reached and GCVS would be keen to hear from our Members about their experience and views of integration. Has it made your job easier and what are you concerns as we move into the new financial year? Please contact our Health and Social Care Liaison Officer, Lynn Williams on firstname.lastname@example.org.