It is clear that faith communities make a significant contribution to the care and support of older people but the awareness of the Scottish Government policy relating to older people and perhaps the integration of health and social care has not been so strong. However, our discussions with different communities indicated that for some there was an interest in being invited to participate in local planning and at the very least to know what was going on.
The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 puts in place the legislative framework to integrate health and social care services in Scotland which includes establishing at least two localities in each authority area.
The aim is to ensure that there is more opportunity for communities and professionals to take an active role in the planning of local service provision. It is emphasised that every locality will involve a range of people from different backgrounds who are accustomed to different working styles and arrangements.
Faith Communities provide a wide range of services and support very vulnerable older people as well as others through the age spectrum. Sometimes it is assumed that faith communities are included in the voluntary sector but often this is not the case. The question is should they be or should they have a more specific identity. Clearly the important issue is to ensure that they are recognised and included in discussions as appropriate and that there is a clear awareness of the care and support that they provide which enhances the provision in a local area. Each congregation or community is unique in what it offers.The Scottish Government and the Joint Improvement Team have recently published guidance on localities in relation to integration.
The links for the documents are: