National care standards

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National Care Standards review

What are the National Care Standards?

The National Care Standards are a set of standards for care services in Scotland.

The current National Care Standards were created by the Scottish Government under the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001.

The standards were devised after considerable consultation with service providers, service users, various expert bodies and the public. There are currently 23 standards and these are subject to review and revision, as necessary.

The National Care Standards are used by service providers to maintain and improve the quality of services provided. The Care Inspectorate is also required by law to apply them when regulating care services. The standards are based on care settings including childminders and nurseries, care homes, housing support, services for people in criminal justice supported accommodation and independent hospitals.

The standards, which are written from the point of view of people who use services, are one of the measures by which the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland assess the safety, effectiveness and quality of care.

Why do we need new National Care Standards to be developed?

Since their introduction, the National Care Standards have not been reviewed, and so, in line with current expectations of compassionate, high quality, safe and effective care, Scottish Ministers committed to a review of the standards.

What has been the approach to a review of the standards?

A consultation was published in June 2014; it closed in September 2014. The document set out a range of human rights-based proposals for developing new standards that improve the quality of care and protect vulnerable people. It sought views on whether a shared set of standards for health and care should be developed so that people working in health and care services have a common understanding of what quality means and work to common core values.

The consultation received 475 responses from a wide range of service providers, professional and representative groups, service users and regulatory bodies. On the whole, proposals were very well supported with 92% of respondents agreeing that new standards should take a human rights-based approach. 89% of those who provided a view supported the development of overarching quality standards which apply across health and social care.

What has happened since the consultation?

Since the consultation, a National Care Standards Review Project Board has been established, to provide strategic direction to the review, with representatives drawn from organisations which support the delivery and improvement of health and care services in Scotland. The Project Board will be the decision making body and make recommendations to the Scottish Ministers regarding the new standards.

In January 2015, the Project Board discussed the process for developing new standards and recommended that the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland lead the overall process for the development phase of the new standards, in conjunction with otherstakeholders, and drawing on the views gathered through consultation.

Subsequently a Development Group, cochaired by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, was established with relevant key stakeholders.

During 2015/2016, this group will identify networks for further engagement, consultation and testing.

What will happen next?

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland will work closely together to review and develop new standards; this will involve ongoing consultation with a range of stakeholders.

When will the new National Care Standards be introduced?

It is anticipated that the new National Care Standards will be introduced in 2017, with a further 12 months or so to full implementation.

National Care Standards principles

The following principles will underpin the National Care Standards:

Dignity and respect

  • My human rights are respected and promoted.
  • I am respected and treated with dignity as an individual.
  • I am treated fairly and do not experience discrimination.
  • My privacy is respected.


  • I experience warm, compassionate and nurturing care and support.
  • My care is provided by people who understand and are sensitive to my needs
    and my wishes.

Be included

  • I receive the right information, at the right time and in a way that I can understand.
  • I am supported to make informed choices, so that I can control my care and support.
  • I am included in wider decisions about the way the service is provided, and my
    suggestions, feedback and concerns are considered.
  • I am supported to participate fully and actively in my community.

Responsive care and support

  • My health and social care needs are assessed and reviewed to ensure I receive the right
    support and care at the right time.
  • My care and support adapts when my needs, choices and decisions change.
  • I experience consistency in who provides my care and support and in how it is provided.
  • If I make a complaint it is acted on.


  • I am asked about my lifestyle preferences and aspirations, and I am supported
    to achieve these.
  • I am encouraged and helped to achieve my full potential.
  • I am supported to make informed choices, even if this means I might be taking
    personal risks.
  • I feel safe and I am protected from neglect, abuse, or avoidable harm.

Download the principles leaflet (PDF, 63K)

National Care Standards update

Where are we now

Work has continued apace over the last few months in redeveloping the National Care Standards. Having established five overarching principles earlier this year, we have spent the last few months developing the draft new standards which will sit beneath them.

We have even reviewed how we refer to the National Care Standards to better reflect where they will apply. The consultation asks for people’s views on what the standards should be called in the longer-term, meanwhile for the purposes of the consultation, they will be known as the new ‘National Health and Social Care Standards’.

The new standards represent a significant development for people in Scotland. They comprehensively set out what care and support should actually look and feel like for people every time they use health and social care services. For people familiar with the 2002 standards, the new standards will look and feel very different. They have moved away from particular settings or registration categories, are much more outcome-focused with less emphasis on provider inputs, and much more person-centred so that people’s care experiences are at the heart of a common understanding of quality.

We are delighted to say that the new standards are now ready for public consultation.

Consulting with the public

Week commencing 24 October will mark the launch of the Scottish Government’s public consultation on the new standards. This will be a further opportunity to engage with people who use, provide and work in health and social care services.

Over the 12-week consultation period, the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to comment on and help shape the final standards. Ultimately, it is an opportunity to help ensure that the standards support people to receive the same high standards of care across the country, delivered in a way which reflects their own personal needs and circumstances.

As part of the consultation, we will be carrying out a series of engagement events across the country to help people understand how the standards have been developed and what they will actually mean for people who use care and support services. We will also be launching a series of short films to help explain what the standards will mean for people and we will run a social media campaign to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the consultation. Your support in promoting the consultation will be greatly appreciated.

For more information on the consultation and regular updates about the review of the National Care Standards, please visit

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