07 June 2021

Final reports and recommendations published by Scotland’s National Confidential Forum

The National Confidential Forum has published its final reports, Shining a Light on Care, which includes recommendations for policy and practice to Scottish Government, and My Message for Scotland, which includes direct quotes shared with Forum members by survivors of historic institutional care in Scotland.

Established under the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014, the National Confidential Forum was set up to listen to, acknowledge, and put on public record the experiences of people who were in institutional care as children, and to learn lessons from the past. The Forum offered a private space for people to come forward to share their own experiences, be heard and acknowledged, telling their story in complete confidentiality. Starting in 2015, NCF’s work has run in parallel to Scotland Child Abuse Inquiry and the Independent Care Review.

Based on the analysis of testimonies, Shining a Light makes 10 sets of recommendations for improving the experience of being in care for all people, and the NCF endorses and supports the recommendations contained within the Independent Care Review.

  1. All people living in institutional care, regardless of their age, should be safe and have their needs met
  2. Older adults, who experienced institutional care in childhood and are now in supported living or care homes, should have their specific needs addressed
  3. Adults of any age who experienced institutional care in childhood should have their needs addressed
  4. The scrutiny of care institutions currently providing care for children and young people should be significantly improved
  5. The needs and rights of children and young people currently living in institutional care should be respected and protected
  6. Access to care records should be expedited and current care record practices improved
  7. Compassionate and responsive family support services, which take into account caring strengths as well as caring deficiencies in the family, should be in place
  8. Children and young people should have the right to choose to maintain or reject contact with their parents or other significant family members while they are in institutional care
  9. Decisions about a child or young person’s future care should always be child-centred, evidence-based and in the child or young person’s best interests
  10. Sufficient attention should be paid to learning from the lifelong impact that institutional care had in the past, and continues to have, on our adult care-experienced population

Over the five-year period to November 2020, the Forum heard and recorded 174 testimonies from people who had been in institutional care in Scotland. Of those 174 testimonies, 99 came from men and 75 from women. The Forum found that most people (137 of the 174) were placed in institutional care when aged 11 or younger – 81 (47%) when aged between 6 and 11 years and 56 (32%) when aged 5 years or younger. A further 31 people (18%) had been placed in institutional care between the ages of 12 and 16 years and six individuals (3%) didn’t provide information on their age when entering institutional care.

At the time that they shared their experiences with the Forum, 60 people (34%) were aged between 51 and 60 years old and 45 people (26%) were aged between 41 and 50 years old; 11 people (6%) were aged between 21 and 30 years old and 17 people (10%) were aged between 71 and 90 years old. The youngest participant was 25 years old and our oldest participant was 85 years old at the time they gave their testimonies. Over 200 institutions were identified by the adults who spoke about being in institutional care as children.