People providing social care to adults should be referred to as support workers rather than carers, MSPs have been told.
Holyrood’s Health Committee heard from six people involved in the receipt of care on Tuesday.
They told MSPs there should be a “professional pathway” for those giving social care.
One of those giving evidence was retired GP and disability rights campaigner Dr Ann Wilson, who has experience of support being given to both herself and her grandson, who has mental health issues.
Those receiving care should be involved in any changes to policy, she said.
Dr Wilson said: “I’m really keen to see those people who are at the moment called care workers to be given a more professional status.
“I would really like them to be called support workers rather than carers.”
She added: “People who care have an emotional link to the recipients, a daughter or a mother, they are caregivers.
“Whereas people who are paid to support a person should be called something different.”
She said these workers should have a “professional pathway” and a future national care service should “immediately begin to professionalise these wonderful people who give tremendous support to people to take part in normal everyday activities”.
Another witness, Julie Cuzen, said those currently considered “unpaid carers” for family members should be considered as a “professional and skilled part of society”.
She said professional qualifications for unpaid carers should be an option, as many felt “undervalued” in their role.
Ms Cuzen added: “If it’s a professional qualification, there should be compliance attached.”
Sue Dumbleton, who cares for a daughter with learning disabilities, said it is an “interesting” idea but “very difficult to put into practice”.
She said care workers already require a certain level of qualification, saying: “How well that works is maybe up for debate but there does exist a professionalisation of the workforce.”