Increasing demand


THIS week in Edinburgh, I addressed a conference titled 'Caring for the Rising Population of Older People in Scotland'.

I spoke to the audience as someone, like many in our community, who has had the significant caring responsibility within the family.

I also spoke as the Member of Parliament for Greenock and Inverclyde dealing with many of the failings in the elderly care system highlighted to me by my constituents.

One of the main objectives of the Scottish Parliament's health committee which I convene has been to provide scrutiny and develop policy that can ensure good quality of care, whether that is in the residential setting, community or hospital.

While much of the older care in all settings is good, I have found through personal experience, and through my casework, significant gaps and poor standards of care which are damaging the reputation of our public health services.

At the heart of the negative experiences is the failure of the health and social care services to work effectively together. I hope that the forthcoming health and social care integration bill will address this failing.

Another major contributor is the increased demand on services at a time when there is less money and budgets are being cut.

Worryingly for us all, this demand is set to rise even further in the coming years while at the same time public funds will continue to decrease.

How we provide high quality care for our elderly in this environment will be a major challenge and one which we must be prepared for.

If we are not ready to meet this challenge then I fear that the negative experiences relayed to me by my constituents will become the norm.