Caring for the elderly

July 11th, 2011

After a visit from The Queen last week, the Scottish Parliament is now closed for the summer.


But that doesn’t mean us MSPs won’t be working and I look forward to spending more time in the constituency, which now covers an additional 12,000 people and a whole other town in Port Glasgow.


I also have another new role, having been elected convener of the Scottish Parliament’s health committee, complete with a busy schedule of meetings for the summer.


On top of the care regulators, the ambulance service and Save The Children, I also met with Nicola Sturgeon last week, and found plenty of common ground, not least in the very pressing area of elderly care.


With the tragic problems at the Elsie Inglis care home, where police are investigating the deaths of two residents, and the financial problems at Southern Cross, the country’s biggest care operator, it is clear that the status quo won’t be an option for much longer.


With financial pressures starting to bite and quality of care being squeezed, work is underway in England to address these issues.


In the Scottish Parliament, we can proudly say that the Labour-Lib executive took steps to make personal care a priority, providing it free when south of the border they shied away from this issue.


While it may be satisfying to boast that we are ahead of England, we still have to ensure we have a system that will give people confidence for decades to come.


The challenge is to fashion a care service that is both fair and sustainable in a changing Scotland - everyone agrees we must do everything to ensure elderly people are giving the dignity, care and support they need and deserve.


The challenge is how we pay for that and I look forward to working with the Cabinet Secretary to ensure we can deliver on those promises.