Overview —

It is crucial that the new National Care Service has as a cornerstone the health, safety and welfare of both those receiving care and those providing it. This paper will concentrate on the prevention of work-related injury and ill health for those employed to work in social care. However, much of what it says will be relevant to unpaid carers and those being cared for.


Kathy Jenkins

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This paper starts with an overview of the health, safety and welfare issues and problems identified by social care workers in Scotland. These are taken from the Fair Work Convention’s 2019 report on Scotland’s Social Care Sector, from the Unison Scotland 2016 report We Care, do you? and from anecdotal reports made in conferences, meetings and discussions by social care members of a number of unions, including issues that have come to the fore during the Covid crisis.

Key Points

― There is a well-understood set of criteria which are viewed as being key to the health, safety and welfare of care workers.

― During the Covid crisis there is well-documented evidence of how poorly these criteria were properly ensured for care staff in Scotland.

― There is an internationally defined and accepted hierarchy of actions to ensuring that staff health, safety and welfare is properly protected and this must underpin our approaches in future.

― As well as these there are fundamental issues which must be addressed: pay, job security, training, work load and patterns, and the ability for staff to have a degree of control over their work and of influence on how care is provided.

― These can only be properly addressed by ensuring that staff have the ability to have their voice heard through collective bargaining and unionisation.

― A series of recommendations are put forward which would make a substantial difference in achieving these outcomes.

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