Caring for older people at home will be vital to ease the pressure on Scotland's health and social care services, health secretary Alex Neil said today.
Neil was speaking as a new bill was published to ensure the health and social care systems are integrated effectively to improve the provision of care.
Recent figures show the proportion of people in Scotland aged over 75 will rise by 80% by 2035. In addition, the 2011 census shows us for the first time, there are more people in Scotland aged over 65 than there are under 15.
The new bill is designed to help Scotland cope with these demographic pressures by reducing delays that keep older people in hospital longer than needed and increasing the amount of care that can be provided at home.
Neil said: "People in Scotland are living longer, healthier lives - which is good news. But it also means that services need to adapt in order to meet the challenges of a rapidly ageing population.
"That means providing greater levels of care can be provided at home or in a homely setting and ensuring that our older people are not stuck in hospital longer than they need to be. The publication of this bill is a major step forward in public service reform, and integrating NHS and local authority budgets will help to reduce these delays.
"Bringing health and social care together in this way improve care for people in communities, helping to anticipate their needs and reaching them before they need to be admitted to hospital or institutional care.
"Local integrated arrangements between health boards and councils will be able to shape services to best meet the care needs of their local populations. This will improve the quality and consistency of care for older people and people with complex care needs."