Welcome to Fit for the Future: Falkirk!

My name is  Margaret McGowan and I am the newly appointed Scottish Care development officer in Falkirk.

Falkirk Wheel

I have over 19 years experience working in home care and started my career as a Care Assistant, in October 1999 was promoted to Supervisor.  In 2001 I became a Customer Care Manager and was further promoted to the position of Branch Manager, further promotion led to being overall Operations Manager with responsibility for the whole of Scotland from 2006 to 2012.

As your development officer, my role is to represent the Independent Sector in the Reshaping Care for Older People programme in the Falkirk area and ensure that our sectors’ voice is heard and that we are being represented at Local, National and Strategic Policy level.

This is an exciting time for our sector, to be involved in the Fit for the Future project and to engage in partnership working to shift the balance of care and allow elderly people to optimise their health and wellbeing in their home or in a homely setting.

In the coming months, I hope to:

  • Arrange meetings with local independent providers to discuss how we communicate and collaborate to achieve all of the above
  • Continue to attend key meetings of Falkirk Reshaping Care for Older People Partnership
  • Plan the implementation of this development project to reshape services for the future.

I am keen to hear from you so please contact me either by way of email margaret.mcgowan@scottishcare.org or by phone on: 07919315590.

Welcome to Fit for the Future: North Lanarkshire!

My name is Rhoda Macrae and I’m a Scottish Care development officer in North Lanarkshire.

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I am largely here to facilitate providers to get involved and link with Rhiann. Having been involved in the Reshaping Care programme of work now for 18 months I kept hearing about the difficulties providers had in recruiting staff who had ‘fit’ with their organisation and once they had recruited staff sometimes retaining those staff for a variety of reasons was also difficult. Hence the idea of values based recruitment. We will work with  a couple of providers to support them to recruit and retain staff who have the qualities and values they need for the job and has ‘fit’ with the organisation.

You can find out more about my work in North Lanarkshire at:


If you would like to find out more about the project or get involved in North Lanarkshire please see the ‘Contact Us’ tab!

Welcome to Fit for the Future: West Lothian!

Welcome to the West Lothian section of the “ Fit for the Future” project, a joint project with IRISS and Scottish Care.

Linlithgow 01

My name is Robert Telfer, I am the Development Officer for the Independent Sector in West Lothian and I am delighted to also be part of the Fit for the Future project team. My professional background has very much been in nursing, beginning my career in 1981. I became involved in care of older people in 1996 and before taking up my current post in April of this year had worked with older people in West Lothian for the previous 14 years. During that time I was aware of the changes and new challenges facing independent providers of care. These challenges are becoming more and more evident, due in part to demographic changes in our population. The chart below gives a clear indication that the increase in the number of older people in West Lothian over the next 20 years is far greater than anticipated in the rest of Scotland

Projected population, by age group, in West Lothian, 2013-2033 (General Register for Scotland (2010) Projected population figures 2013- 2033)

Age group 2013 2018 2023 2028 2033 Estimated percentage rise in population West Lothian Estimated percentage rise in population


65-74 15,749 17,349 18,090 20,634 23,859 80% 50%
75+ 10,709 13,213 16,626 19,466 22,062 150% 80%

Scotland’s older people are living longer and healthier lives than previously but it is well evidenced that health care and social care costs are greater in respect of those in our community over 75 and even more so for those over 85.

One challenge that we face is the anticipated increase in people suffering from dementia. The Lothian Dementia Project has projected an increase of 87% in the number of people suffering from dementia in West Lothian by 2024. This is a higher percentage increase than projected in our neighbouring counties, for example East Lothian has a projection of 49%, Mid Lothian 51%.

 This is a time of challenge for all of us who provide services and care for Scotland’s Older People which makes me particularly pleased to be part of this project which will actively involve independent providers in seeking and developing new tools and strategies to deliver high quality care and cope with the challenges we face.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project or taking part in West Lothian, please access the ‘Contact Us’ tab.

Rethinking Recruitment

Rethinking Recruitment within Older Peoples’ Services

Rhiann McLean – IRISS Associate

I met a support assistant about 2 months ago (in my life outside of work) who said that her position in care was a privilege; her pride and her calling. She said that she couldn’t imagine doing anything else on earth. I briefly googled human cloning before abandoning that idea in favour of reshaping recruitment to help people find people like her…

Recruiting and retaining committed staff is a huge challenge for the independent sector. Each recruitment cycle is a huge drain on resource; from the cost of the ad to the time spent shortlisting and interviewing participants. A number that is often cited as an estimate is that it costs over three thousand pounds per position, including induction and training.

Independent care at home organisations are experiencing increasing pressure to grow and meet demand; not surprising, giving the national drive for older people to stay at home longer. Some of these agencies are in a constant recruitment process, finding it difficult to find the right staff and keep them.

This in turn affects the stability and continuity that the people who access these services value, and also makes it difficult for providers, as employers, to invest in their staff’s ongoing development.  It’s also difficult for staff, who may  not be able to establish robust team working – and may lose morale.

Why values?

Values can be the common thread that links employees, employers and people who use services. They bridge the worlds of ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ care. They are vital to building and sustaining relationships with people who use services.

The way in which support is shaped and delivered is changing (for the better!) And providers are looking for staff with the values that are needed to embrace their changing role. This means:

  • Finding staff who want to enable and empower the people they work with (do with, not for)
  • Finding staff who want to work with people in an outcomes focussed way
  • Finding staff who can listen to and take lead from the people who use services
  • Finding staff who can support increasingly complex needs amongst older people – becoming experts in dementia and palliative care
  • Finding staff with integrity, adaptability and imagination.

And knowing that the financial rewards for this line of work are not overwhelming, we need them to find this type of work rewarding (and create an infrastructure which does this as well)

Where do we start?

This project is focussing on the redesign of recruitment to focus on supporting providers to get in touch with their own values, and then recruit based on these values. We hope that this will help them retain a committed, effective workforce that is ready to respond to the changing needs of older people at home.

This project will challenge providers of care and support to think:

  • What are our values?
  • What are the values of the people who use our services? (will these change over time?)
  • What values are we looking for in staff?
  • How and where do we find these people?
  • How will we make this work rewarding for our staff?

The rise of fair employment practice has brought continuity, equality and diversity to the care and suport sector. It has made employment more fair and standardised, and safer for people who use services.

However, I cannot help but get the impression, when reading down a 2 page job profile… that the values that employers may be looking for are lost in translation .

Sometimes it’s nice when preparing for the  future… to look to the past:

War propaganda has to be straight to the point and effective to meet desperate needs.  It was designed to reach every household and deliver a very simple, very clear message. This poster directly appeals to its audience and answers the key questions detailed above:

  • What are our values? duty, personal responsibility, commitment, work ethic
  • What values are we looking for in staff? The uniform suggest professional skill (but doesn’t allude to any specific skill which may alienate workers), the woman’s gesture/posture suggests enthusiasm and the backdrop suggests duty and responsibility
  • How will we make this work rewarding for our staff? The ad suggests that the role will be rewarding because it supports the larger war effort, doing a greater good for the country. The woman drawn on the ad also looks proud of her personal accomplishment.

I would be happy to see providers really get to the root of what they are looking for, and really plan out their future workforce.

I’d like to support them to find a modern, interesting way of conveying this to their audience. And by being clear and transparent about what their values are, starting a dialogue with their service users about what matters most to them and conveying this to staff- they are likely to find a ‘match’, who will stay and grow with their organisation.

Luminate 2013 and the Opportunity in Creativity

Credit: Neil Murray
Credit: Neil Murray

– Rhiann McLean, IRISS Associate

Last night I attended my first event of this October’s Luminate Creative Ageing Festival! The event was hosted by the law firm Anderson Strathern and Home Instead, a provider of care and support at home  based in Edinburgh. There was a variety of speakers but what they all had in common was that they were using creativity to connect with people with dementia and their carers.

All of them described art and creativity as a way of establishing:

  • Connection
  • Identity and Memory
  • Community
  • Communication
  • Confidence & Self Esteem
  • Support Networks

Given the recent negative media exposure around the quality of support available for older people in Scotland, it was refreshing to meet people who were dedicating time and resources to building creative solutions in their community.

I was especially interested by the work done by The Elderflowers by Hearts & Minds (http://www.heartsminds.org.uk/the-elderflowers/)

The interaction that the ‘elderflowers’ have with people with dementia is meaningful precisely because it is not prescriptive. They are able to be in the moment with the person with dementia, real or imagined. This puts people with dementia in control of their environment and interaction- a big ask. I was also very pleasantly surprised to hear that these sessions are sometimes documented in case files and medical charts as part of a larger holistic support package.

These projects were mostly smaller, local, and reliant on inconsistent funding and donation models. Some of them were struggling to meet demand and felt they needed more stable investment. They were all able to evidence (through case studies and feedback) the impact that their support was having on older people and their carers. I believe that preventative programs like these are a vital part of the changing landscape of care; they reduce isolation, harness community resources and can be crucial to preventing crisis. So why is this kind of provision is so ‘bitty’ and struggling to find funding and sustainability? Do we value it less than traditional mainstream services?

I see the opportunity in these community projects- particularly when linked in with formal paid care. Do they know about each other? Can they work together? Imagine the opportunity of complementary support that included care at home and peer support in the community!

I believe that more ‘formal’ support services can learn from the fearlessness of these initiatives, and how closely they build services with the people who access them. Community projects like the ones showcased last night have the opportunity to ‘prototype’ ideas in a way that many contracted and formalised organisations may feel they cannot. They also have an open and fluid design –where the people attending are able to contribute, feed back and change the provision of support.

I suppose a lot of the progress that has to come through Reshaping Care for Older People is linking between these community, unpaid supports and ‘formal supports’ to coordinate an approach to aging that can be both preventative and responsive.

Fit for The Future aims to increase the capacity of providers to respond to Reshaping Care for Older People. Part of this will mean re-examining ‘traditional’ support, and finding a way to connect with the people who use services and respond. I believe that the Luminate festival is an excellent showcase of ways to bridge the gap between people and services and really connect meaningfully with older people.

I recommend that you have a look at what’s on locally:


Welcome to the Fit for the Future Blog!

Fit for the future is a joint project between IRISS and Scottish Care looking at Reshaping Care for Older People.

The project aims to support providers in the Independent Sector to better respond to the Reshaping Care for Older People programme, to meet the changing needs of older people in Scotland.

We are working across 4 sites: Argyll & Bute, Falkirk, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian.

This blog will document progress from each site, along with common national themes, ideas and perspectives.

Stay tuned!