The stark gap in approach between private sector and not-for-profit providers has been revealed in new analysis.
A new report into the Scottish Government’s approach towards the new National Care Service has warned the proposals fall short of the transformative change needed across the country.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) published their latest research, Profiting from care: why Scotland can’t afford privatised social care, on Wednesday, declaring the plans at present to be “untenable”.
The trade union organisation, representing unions from across health and social care, is calling for the Scottish care home estate to be transferred out of private ownership in totality.
Research within the STUC report reveals that Scotland’s large private social care providers are associated with lower wages, more complaints about care quality, and higher levels of rent extraction than public and third sector care providers.
Under current Scottish Government plans, the proposed National Care Service would remain “ownership neutral”, embedding a role for the private sector in social care.
The research found nearly 25 per cent of care homes run by big private providers had at least one complaint upheld against them in 2019/20, compared to six per cent of homes not run for profit.
In older people’s care homes, staffing resources are 20 per cent worse in the private sector compared to the not-for-profit sector, while privately owned care homes only spend 58 per cent of their revenue on staffing, compared to 75 per cent in not-for-profit care homes.
Over the last six years, the public sector has also paid on average £1.60 more per hour to care workers.
The most profitable privately owned care homes take out £28 of every £100 received in fees in profits, rent, payments to the directors, and interest payments on loans. This compares to just £3.43 in every £100 in fees for the largest not-for-profit care home operators.
The report argues that a truly transformative National Care Service must be based on a not-for-profit public service, delivered through local authorities with an ongoing role for the voluntary sector.
Roz Foyer, STUC general secretary, said: “Our new STUC research clearly shows that large privately owned care homes perform worse than not-for-profit care homes at almost every level. They are worse for those receiving care, worse for the workers providing care and worse for the taxpayer.
“It simply isn’t the case that Scotland can’t afford to buy out private care homes, we can’t afford not to. As it stands, the Scottish Government are falling glaringly short in offering the transformative shake up to social care Scotland badly needs.
“As the National Care Service Bill makes its way through Parliament, politicians must focus their attention on the kind of organisations we want to provide care for our citizens, not as seems to be the case just now, the centralisation of commissioning and outsourcing procedures.”
The recommendations have been backed by Care Home Relatives Scotland. The influential group, set up during the pandemic, have been working to strengthen relatives rights as a result of care home visitation restrictions during COVID-19.
Campaigner Catherine Russell said: “This report should be essential summer reading for every member of the Scottish Parliament.
“The research findings endorse everything Care Home Relatives Scotland said in our response to the NCS consultation. Our fear is that millions will be spent on upheaval and reorganisation when the priority must be to focus on improvements and with resources on the frontline where they are desperately needed.
“We also share the STUCs grave concerns about the further marketisation of social care and community health services.
“As the report demonstrates, private homes are not the most cost effective or highest quality. They are extremely costly for residents who need to pay and the profit motive tends to drive down staff conditions. Scotland can and should find a better, fairer way to do things and this research will be a very useful contribution to that debate.”