Since 2002, the National Care Standards have played an important role in ensuring people who receive care and support get the high-quality service they are entitled to. Everyone is entitled to high-quality care and support, tailored towards their particular needs and capable of being provided in any setting: be that in a hospital or clinical setting; a residential care home; a children's nursery; or, as many now people prefer, within their own home.
As Cabinet Secretary for Health I am committed to ensuring these services achieve positive outcomes for all. In reviewing the current Standards, we all all have a unique opportunity to contribute to how our services are planned, commissioned, delivered and improved. The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland are already inspecting and supporting our health and care services in doing this, and I am sure that the new Standards - which will now also apply to NHS health care services - will help everyone to reach higher and achieve more.
What matters most in all of this is that people feel included and respected, and can chose the kind of service which best improves their quality of life whatever their circumstances. Each and every one of us will, at some point in our lives, need to use - or know someone who needs to use - a health or care service. By introducing new Standards focusing on people's human rights and personal outcomes, I am confident that we can improve everyone's experience of using, or working in, health, care and social work services.
The new Standards have been developed by an expert group of key organisations, representative groups and individuals. Together they have done a fantastic job in getting us to this point, and now we need your help. We want to know if the new Standards are fit for purpose; if they are capable of supporting improvement in care and support services; and ultimately, if they will achieve better personal outcomes for all.
These are questions which only you can answer, and so which I, and those developing the new Standards, need to have answers to so we can achieve the goal of living longer, healthier lives.
I would ask that everyone gets involved in shaping the future of health, social care and social work services. So please, take the time to read the new Standards, consider and discuss what they mean to you and your family - both now and in the future - and let me know what you think.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport