A former Royal Marine who has been appointed to lead Scotland's major military veterans' charity out of recent financial and administrative difficulties, has insisted the organisation "needs to move with the times".

Steve Conway, currently director of strategy and support for NHS National Services Scotland, will take over as chief executive of Erskine in December. He inherits a number of woes within the beleaguered charity that reported an operating deficit last year and saw its Edinburgh care home given a critical report by the care inspectorate, Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS).

Though a second report in August upgraded the quality of the nursing and medical care Erskine provides for former members of our armed forces to “adequate”, it criticised the leadership and management as weak.

Inspectors, however, did acknowledge that the assessment took place during the new manager’s first week and a further inspection has now been carried out but the report has not yet published.

Asked how he saw the future for Erskine, Conway made clear the need for the charity to evolve in response to changing conditions and challenges.

“I think the key thing is it needs to move with the times,” he said. “The regulations for the provision of care change and, quite rightly, people’s expectations change and Erkine has to change with them.

“We need to acknowledge that service personnel today need the same sort of care Erskine has provided since 1916, but they also need the opportunity to make the transformation following their service career and have something to look forward to in the civilian environment.

“I am very keen to develop that. It is not about solely providing care for the elderly.”

Conway’s service experience ranges from counter-terrorism operations to human resources and he sees the current economic climate as another of the biggest obstacles to be overcome. He arrives at the Erskine complex at Bishopton with a track record of driving through change.

After joining the NHS in Scotland as national emergency planning officer, he was moved to NHS Orkney when the health board had difficulties. He subsequently became chief executive, and oversaw a programme of organisational change, including the provision of GP services on the outlying islands, which remains controversial.

Conway acknowledges that much has changed since his initial contact with Erskine. In response to challenges resulting from the conflict in Afghanistan, the charity has developed fresh partnerships with the armed forces – one example is that the Edinburgh care home now has a wing run by the army for injured serving personnel who have received treatment elsewhere, such as the Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham.

This kind of joint approach is something Conway would like to develop further.

Fundraising, too, is top of his agenda, not least because individual care packages are dependent on local authority funding.

“My experience in the health service, and I believe the local authorities are feeling it in exactly the same way, is that last year was difficult, this year is much harder and next year will be a very significant challenge,” he said.

Because local authority care packages do not cover the cost of specialist care and facilities at Erskine such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, additional funds are needed, amounting to around £8 million a year.

As part of their rehabilitation process, Erskine residents can work in the furniture factory, garden centre or coffee shop. These are run as social enterprise businesses with any profit becoming welcome additional income for the charity, but the prime purpose of Erskine remains therapy.

“With the experience I’ve got both in the military and the NHS, I feel I can do the greater good in an organisation like Erskine. That’s why I applied for the job,” Conway said.