Scotland's elderly care at home costs double in eight years
The amount of money being spent by Scottish councils providing personal care for elderly people in their own home has doubled in eight years, according to new statistics.
Councils across Scotland spent almost £350m between 2011 and 12.
One reason for the increase is that more elderly people are receiving support to help them stay in their own home for longer.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said he was encouraged by the figures.
The statistics showed that, overall, a greater proportion of older people were now being cared for at home rather than in hospitals or care homes.
They also showed that increasingly home care workers were providing personal care services rather than domestic services and that people living at home had increasing levels of need, reflecting the fact that people with high care needs are being supported to remain at home for longer.
The amount of money spent by local authorities on free personal care and free nursing care payments to self-funding residents in care homes has increased each year from £86m in 2003-04 to £111m in 2011-12.
This rise of 28.9% reflects the increasing number of self-funders and the annual increases in the payments from April 2008.
Mr Neil said: "Free personal and nursing care is a vital universal benefit and these latest figures show that this distinctive Scottish policy is touching the lives of more than 70,000 older people.
"I believe it is only right that older people feel fully supported to live at home or in a homely setting within their own communities for a long as possible."
He added: "Not only have we seen a 42% in the number of people receiving personal care at home in Scotland since 2003-4 but today's figures show that people are now receiving more time with carers each week.
"I am encouraged by today's figures that show we are on the right track. I look forward to building on this to achieve more for our older people through the integration of health and social care."
Scottish Labour's health spokesman Neil Findlay said: "These figures are only going to continue to rise. Predictions suggest that by 2035 there will be almost 1.5m older people in Scotland, that equates to the population of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling combined.
"This is a demographic timebomb that will heap pressure on our services if it is not addressed now and plans made for the future.
"We need a national debate about how we will look after and care for a growing elderly population."
He added: "We want to be part of the solution and are happy to work with the Scottish government to make sure these services are fair and sustainable for future generations."