Fair Work in Scotland’s Social Care Sector 2019

Appendix A
Background and Methodology

Social Care Working Group

The Social Care Working Group convened over 18 months to re-examine the care system and engage on some critical questions placing the worker at the centre of the system. This group involved representatives from trade unions, the Chief Social Work Office, Scottish Government, SSSC, SCVO, CCPS, Scottish Care, COSLA, Social Work Scotland and the University of Strathclyde. They met every two months for 18 months. Each meeting was themed and invitations were extended to others. The group heard evidence from persons with lived experience of social care services; from union officials representing workers, social care providers delivering care on the frontline; and academic experts with expertise in gender and disability who provided the group with historical context and provided examples of alternative international models of social care. We also heard from Scottish Government policy officials leading on different aspects of current social care policy and members of the group also heard from each other. The group worked through a series of steps to define the issues, understand and map connections with the aim of recommending actions that would help deliver a social care system that would provide fair work.

Social care as a complex system

The aim of the inquiry was to determine what was needed to implement the Fair Work Framework across the whole social care workforce. Because social care sector is a complex system, a systems approach was adopted.

Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. The aim was to better appreciate how the system looked from the perspective of the worker.

Different people, with different points of view and who see different parts of the social care system, were invited to come together and to learn together to collectively see what was happening in the social care sector and the unforeseen results that could be experienced by the worker within the system. Representatives of the key social care infrastructure were asked to join the working group: the leaders and policy makers in social care who were responsible for governance and management of the sector and who, together, could provide a picture of the sector as a whole system from policy development, to funding, commissioning to delivery.

1 Define the problem
2 Identify the problem 
3 Map the systems 
4 Identify the relationships 
5 Look for leverage points 
6 Design the systems intervention

This Inquiry had two main components. The first component was commissioned research from the Scottish Centre for Employment Research at the University of Strathclyde, using the FITwork project methodology, to provide evidence from people working at the frontline of care. This resulted in two research reports by the SCER researchers, which are published separately on Fair Work Convention’s website:

1. Personal Assistants working under SDS Option One: experiences of fair work

2. Fair, Innovative and Transformative Work in Social Care

Inquiry Questions: