Standards and expectations: are they related?

By Michael Cairns, SSSC Council Member

Michael Cairns, SSSC Council Member

Providing excellent care and support can make a huge difference to the quality of life of a person using a social service. Is it enough to have a social service worker who listens to you, takes you seriously and tries to do what you ask? Or should your worker go out of their way for you and try to understand what it’s really like for you? Should you have a worker who is happy and interested in their work and knowledgeable about every aspect of their work and about sources of help for you? Should we all have higher much expectations of the quality of life that can be experienced by people using social services?

Quality of care: what it is and why it matters

The word quality crops up all the time in the statements made by the government and by local authorities when they talk about social services. But what does it mean to people who receive care and support? When I worked for Age Concern Scotland, we used a very simple definition of quality: would a service be good enough for me, or for an elderly relative of mine? If not, why should it be good enough for anyone else? I still think this is good starting point when we define quality, but we need to spell things out in more detail.

What standards of care can people expect from a worker?

The SSSC is the regulator of social care workers, so we have a particular interest in the role of the worker in creating the best possible quality of care. We have published Codes of Practice, both for social service workers and for their employers. The Codes set out the standards expected of workers.  They deal with issues like respect for people who use services and carers, confidentiality and reliability, promoting independence and upholding public trust and confidence in social services. When workers are registered with the SSSC, they are committed to upholding the standards set out in the Codes of Practice.

What to do if things go wrong

Most social care workers do an excellent job. However things do sometimes go wrong. If people who use services or carers are concerned about the quality of a service, they should first of all take this up with the organisation that provides the service. If this does not remedy the situation, there are two other routes they can take. Registered social care workers who fail to meet the standards set for them can be investigated by the SSSC. If a complaint against a worker is upheld, a range of sanctions can be imposed. Concerns about any service must also be raised with the Care Inspectorate, which is responsible for inspecting and regulating care services in Scotland. The two organisations work  closely together to promote high standards of social care and to take action when those standards are not met.

Find out more about the Codes of Practice, raising concerns or making a complaint on our website or the Care Inspectorate

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