Adults OP Safe staffing poster Dec2023

Safe staffing programme: Information for adults service

This information applies to all adult services, however please also click on the tab specifically for adult care homes for more information about our draft staffing method framework.

The safe staffing programme was commissioned by the Scottish Government to support care services to prepare for enactment of The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019. This is the first legislation in the UK to set out requirements for both health and care services and will affect legislation that guides the requirements of the services you currently provide.

Enacted on 1 April 2024, the Act is applicable to all health and care staff in Scotland. Statutory guidance has been published alongside the Act. The aims of the Act are to enable safe and high quality care and improved outcomes for those experiencing healthcare or care services through the provision of appropriate staffing.  This means:

Having the right people, in the right place, with the right skills, at the right time

All adult services

This content applies to all adult services, however, please also click on the ‘adult care homes’ tab for details of the staffing method framework that is relevant for adult care homes.

The Main purposes of staffing for health and care services are: 

  • To provide safe and high-quality services 
  • To ensure the best care outcomes for people who use services.

The Guiding principles apply to:

  • all services identified in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 section 47 (1)
  • the Care Inspectorate when collaborating with stakeholders to develop a staffing method
  • all local and integration authorities when planning or securing the provision of a care service under a contract, agreement or other arrangement.                          

Click on each link below for information and links to relevant documents.


What is meant by “suitably qualified and competent individuals are working in such numbers as are appropriate for…”?  

Statutory guidance chapter : 15.20

 This provision is intended to ensure there are sufficient staff providing care, with the appropriate knowledge, skills and competence to meet the needs of people experiencing care.  

Care service providers should be able to demonstrate clearly that they have considered the levels of practice, training, education, experience and professional regulatory responsibilities of all of the staff within a team providing care.  

What is meant by “the provision of safe and high-quality care”?  

Statutory guidance chapter : 15.22 

 When judging whether or not a service is “safe”, safe does not mean “no-risk”. Depending on the service, safe may not even mean low risk. Risk enablement is important and risks are an inevitable part of most care services. Positive risks, as defined in the Health and Social Care Standards sections 2.24 and 2.25 means making balanced decisions about risks and risk management and recognising that risks to safety are inevitable and can sometimes result in benefits. However, people experiencing care should not be put at unnecessary risk as a result of staffing which fails to provide high-quality care services.  

Provision of high-quality care requires the right people, in the right place, with the right skills at the right time, with the appropriate amount of time available, reflecting individual care needs, to ensure the best care outcomes for those experiencing care.  

High quality care should include consideration of the dignity and respect of the person experiencing care, including respect and promotion for their human rights; compassionate care and support; inclusion in care of those using the service, along with their carers and representatives as appropriate; responsive care which adapts to the needs of the person; and care which improves wellbeing. 

 Documents you may consider: 

This table details the sections of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 relevant to all care services identified in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, section 47(1) 

Section of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 (HCSSA) 


HCSSA, section 1(a) and 1(b) 

HCSSA, section 3(1) 

The main purposes and guiding principles 

HCSSA, section 7 

Appropriate staffing 

HCSSA, section 8 

Training of staff 

HCSSA, section 10(1) and 10(2)  

Guidance from the Scottish ministers  

Adult care homes

This content applies to care homes for adults and older people.

Scottish Ministers could decide to extend staffing methods to other service types, however consultation would take place first. There is no timeline at present for this to occur. 

What the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 says about staffing methods  

  • The Act allows the Care Inspectorate to develop and recommend staffing methods to the Scottish Ministers. This must be done in collaboration with stakeholders within the care sector.  
  • It is then up to the Scottish Ministers whether they require adult care homes to use a staffing method.  
  • We also have a responsibility to review and redevelop staffing methods, as instructed by Scottish Ministers.  
  • Staffing methods may include new or revised staffing level tools based on the needs of people who use services and professional judgement. 

A staffing method MUST include the use of staffing level tools designed to provide: 

  • quantitative information relating to workload based on people's needs, and
  • quantitative or qualitative information relating to professional judgement

A staffing method MAY include:

  • Risk management procedures
  • Staffing levels
  • Environment 
  • Assessment of quality
  • People's needs and views
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Staff feedback
  • Comments rom relatives and carers
  • New guidance

Staffing method framework

Staffing method framework wheel.

The staffing method framework was developed in consultation with care homes for adults and wider stakeholders to support providers and managers with workload and workforce planning in line with the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019. To improve readability, we may also refer to this legislation as the Act or HCSSA.

Taking account of the views of staff and people who use services, being open about decisions on staffing and promoting multi-disciplinary services are part of the guiding principles of the HCSSA. The Scottish Government has produced statutory guidance for the HCSSA.

This framework will therefore also be of interest to people experiencing care, their families and carers, staff working in care homes, external professionals who support care homes and other stakeholders, such as commissioners.

Read the staffing method framework here.

Adult care homes can decide to use the staffing method framework as a good practice document.



Webinar for registered adult care services with a focus on mental health and learning disability services
18 January 2024

    The Health and Care Staffing Scotland Act 2019 webinar series

Learning resources

Find below some useful resources. 

  • We created a poster to raise awareness of the Act for services and their staff. Please download the poster for adult services and display in your service.
  • Use Safe Staffing cards sway for a deeper understanding of the Act and the implications for your service. The cards can be used as part of a self-evaluation exercise, to identify strengths and raise awareness for areas for improvement. 
  • We have collated the voice of the sector which we gathered during in person events and webinars. Please find the word cloud for adult services which incorporates the 8 main principles. 
  • The See Me video below highlights the importance of stigma in the work place and highlights further resources to support staff wellbeing.

  • The impact of staff support on our lives video is below.

We will be producing a series of quick guides to help you understand your responsibilities towards the Act.  We will let you know once these are available.  These will be:

  • Guiding principles 
  • Appropriate staffing 
  • Staff training and qualifications 
  • The wellbeing of staff 
  • Staffing method framework 
  • Local and integrated authorities 
  • Scottish government annual report 

Get involved


To keep up-to-date with the enactment and to get the most out of our resources, please sign up to our mailing list.

Sign up to our mailing list

You can also email our programme team with any queries you may have.


Useful links

Health and Care (Staffing)(Scotland) Act 2019; A series of six information guides

Safe staffing programme

Supporting care services to prepare for enactment of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019.

Safe Staffing: Information for ELC Services

Supporting the early learning and childcare (ELC) sector to prepare for enactment of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019

Safe Staffing: Information for children and young people's services

Supporting the children's and young people's sector to prepare for enactment of the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019

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