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Scotland's Free Social Care - The Half Truth

Updated: Jun 9

The NHS is under pressure in Scotland, and the government’s proposed “National Care Service” is not due to be introduced until 2028-2029. The current situation of social care in the UK is bleak, with most, if not all local authorities struggling to meet the care demands of the ageing population on their current budgets. It is almost inevitable that people will come to harm by not receiving the right care, and not receiving that care promptly.

Free social care Scotland

The Scottish Government has the right long-term idea of using care as a prevention for older people needing to be admitted to hospital. This idea is great for elderly care in Scotland, but it is taking far too long, and for some people, the changes will come too late.

What is the current situation with free personal care in Edinburgh?

The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership started this financial year with an approximate £60 million budget deficit. The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) is now closing care homes and has been forced to reduce spending in most areas including care delivered in the community. 

Under the current budget constraints of the CEC even if you have been assessed as requiring care you may not receive any care, with a budget only being available immediately to those classed as having substantial or critical care needs. For people who are considered and assessed to be low or moderate, the council now states that care will not be provided. 

Traditionally local authorities would either provide care or give you a budget to spend on care no matter what criteria level you were assessed at. Now local authorities including the CEC are stating they misinterpreted the legislation and will no longer provide the aforementioned care or budget to all criteria levels. The result of this is that people with lower care needs will have to pay for their care in full if they want to receive help at home. Basically, free social care is no longer available for all, even if they have been assessed as having care needs. For some, this contravenes the very essence of the legislation covered by the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002.

Everyone believed  that Scotland was pioneering with free social care for everybody, but have those days now passed?

If you or your family have any questions about how this works and how you are protected by the law, we will be happy to set up a meeting to discuss your care needs and give you the right advice.

Excerpt from the City of Edinburgh Council Assessment Criteria:

Critical or substantial needs

Your needs may be assessed as critical or substantial if the following criteria exists:

Critical - either now or in the next few days

  1. life-threatening harm or danger due to your physical or mental health or behaviour

  2. being unable to carry out most or all personal care and daily household chores, causing a major risk to your independence

  3. being unable to sustain most or all aspects of work or education or learning and family life, causing a major risk to your independence

  4. extensive loss of control over most or all aspects of your home environment, causing a major risk to your independence

  5. complete relationship breakdown between you and your carer.

Substantial - either now or in the next three months

  1. significant harm or danger due to your physical or mental health or behaviour

  2. being unable to carry out many personal care and daily household chores, causing significant risks to your independence

  3. being unable to sustain many aspects of work or education or learning or community and family life, causing significant risks to your independence

  4. loss of control over many aspects of your home environment, causing significant risks to your independence

  5. significant risk of a relationship breakdown between you and your carer.

Moderate or low needs

Your needs may be assessed as moderate or low if if the following criteria exists:

Moderate - either now or in the next 12 months

  1. being unable to carry out some personal care, daily household chores and/or manage your home environment, causing some risks to your independence

  2. inability to sustain some aspects of work or education or learning or community and family life, causing some risks to your independence

  3. moderate risk to your carer's ability to sustain some aspects of their caring role.

Low - when you have

  1. one or two aspects of your personal care and daily household chores are difficult for you to manage

  2. low risk to your carer's ability to sustain their caring role.

For full details on the assessment criteria please visit

Age UK - Know What to Do

Age UK who are one of the biggest supporters and advocates for care of the elderly have produced some very useful, yet deeply concerning information that you may wish to read.

A study that was released in 2023, called out serious issues with elderly care.

Age UK research showed that 28,890 older people died during 2021/22 who never received the care and support they were waiting for and needed. This equated to 79 deaths a day, 554 a week, and 2408 a month in that time period.

2022/2023 numbers will inevitably be higher, which is why we are writing this article to inform you and your family about the current situation and the rights you have to receive care.

Types of Home Help Care Services Available to You

1st Focus Homecare provides a wide range of personalised home help care packages for seniors and older people covering the Edinburgh region.

Free social care Scotland

Below is a list of the services we can support you with and provide.

For residents in Edinburgh, Scotland, we understand that not everyone has friends or family nearby. That's why we're here to help. Our dedicated care companions can visit you in the comfort of your own home, allowing you to maintain your independence while enjoying your familiar surroundings. They can assist you with attending social clubs, visiting friends and family, or escorting you to doctor or hospital appointments. We're here to support you in living life to the fullest in your own home.

Our personal care services are designed to support you in your daily routines, ensuring you feel comfortable and well-cared for in your own home. We offer assistance with getting up in the morning, preparing for bed at night, and everything in between, including showering, dressing, shaving, and hair care. Our personal care is tailored to meet your unique needs and respects your abilities, which may be influenced by your health or any illnesses you manage at home.

Some of the benefits of personal care and hygiene include:

  • Promotes Physical Health: Regular hygiene practices help prevent infections and illnesses, keeping you healthier and more comfortable.

  • Enhances Mental Well-being: Feeling clean and well presented can boost your mood and self-esteem.

  • Maintains Independence: Assistance with personal care allows you to continue living independently in your own home.

  • Improves Social Interactions: Good hygiene encourages social engagement by helping you feel confident when interacting with others.

  • Supports Mobility and Safety: Regular bathing and grooming can improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls or injuries.

Our home help care services include washing and ironing clothes, vacuuming, dusting, polishing furniture, and ensuring that bathrooms and kitchens are clean and tidy.

We also offer assistance with shopping, care of pot plants, as well as cooking and meal preparation to make your daily life easier.

Medication support can be as simple as reminding someone to take their medicine or as involved as giving them their medicine because they can't do it on their own anymore, like if they have dementia or Alzheimer's.

Free social care Scotland

For more information on medication assistance, please read our guide 10 Tips for Medication Assistance for Seniors at Home

At 1st Focus Homecare, we understand the vital role a good diet plays in maintaining overall health and well-being, especially for seniors. We are dedicated to ensuring that our clients can participate as much as possible in preparing and enjoying home-cooked meals.

Eating well is particularly important for seniors because:

  • Nutrient Intake: A balanced diet provides essential nutrients that support bodily functions, boost immunity, and help manage chronic conditions.

  • Energy and Strength: Proper nutrition is crucial for maintaining energy levels and muscle strength, which are important for daily activities and reducing the risk of falls.

  • Mental Health: Enjoying meals can improve mood and mental well-being, providing a sense of routine and enjoyment, and potentially reducing feelings of loneliness and depression.

We recently put together a senior's guide to healthy eating with 20 fantastic recipes that are quick and easy to prepare.

Our goal is to support dementia sufferers in Edinburgh, Scotland, by helping manage symptoms to retain as much independence as possible. We also strive to provide peace of mind and comfort to their loved ones during times of need.

Research has shown that music can be a very good tool for helping people who suffer from dementia. One of our recent articles talks about building a music playlist for dementia sufferers.


In this post, we have provided you with as much information as possible, and have shared some useful links to organisations that can help you.

We appreciate that applying for care can be daunting, but please know what your rights are. We have made it clear here in this post that care is available to you by law if required.

Therefore, if you or your family need more information about quality care services in Edinburgh and how you access home help for the elderly, then feel free to contact the friendly team at 1st Focus Homecare.Our team are always on hand to take questions and give advice where needed.


Q1. Where can I check the law you mentioned in this post?

A1. You can find information within the Social Care Act 2013

Q2. Can I use funds I receive from the government to provide private care at home or do I have to go into a care home?

A2. You have the choice. Of course, most people wish to stay independent so the funds they receive can be used to provide care at home.

Q3. I am reasonably active, can I just get a care package which includes just cooking and cleaning my home?

A3. Yes, this is possible and a great way to give yourself that extra bit of time to do the things you care about and love to do.

Q4. I do not want to lose my house. Am I still entitled to paid care if I own my own home?

A4. Care at home in Scotland is not means tested. Everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to free care.

Q5. What support does your company give in applying for a care package?

A5. We cannot apply for you but we can advise on any of the steps in the process.


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