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Carers and Young Carers strategies
In July 2010, the Scottish Government published separate five-year strategies for the support of carers and young carers.
Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015 describes carers as "equal partners in the planning and delivery of care and support" and outlines a range of headline actions to help improve outcomes for carers. The strategy states that activity should "focus on identifying, assessing and supporting carers in a personalised and outcome-focused way and on a consistent and uniform basis."
Getting it Right for Young Carers: The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015 highlights the benefits young carers can appreciate from the caring contribution they make but warns that the demands of caring can be "onerous" and have adverse effects. The strategy points to the need for early intervention to prevent a young carer having their rights or safety compromised, stating: "By identifying, assessing and supporting young carers, agencies and practitioners can relieve them of inappropriate caring roles and enable them to be children and young people, first and foremost. Adequate and timely support enhances young carers' opportunities to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens."
Two groups support the implementation of the National Carers Strategy:
Carers and Young Carers
In October 2013, the Scottish Government confirmed its intention to bring forward legislation to support carers and young carers during this parliamentary session. In a statement outlining a range of plans, the Scottish Government announced that it will hold a consultation and a number of associated events in due course, providing an opportunity for contributions from carers, young carers, the wider public and professionals.
The statement notes the need to modernise and strengthen rights for carers, provide better access to assessment, prevent or delay carers' needs from increasing or developing, and enable more involvement for carers in decision making around the planning and provision of services for cared-for persons.
In June 2016, the Scottish Government confirmed they are considering the introduction of a Young Carer's Allowance to give young people extra financial support. It has already been confirmed that once social security powers are devolved, the Scottish Government will begin to increase Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Carers (Scotland) Act
Following a consultation on proposed legislative measures to further support and improve outcomes for carers and young carers in Scotland, the Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in March 2015 and the Parliament passed it in February 2016.
From 1 April 2017, the Bill will replace the current carer's assessment with a new adult carer support plan (ACSP) and a young carer statement (YCS) for all young carers. The Bill will also:
- Change the definition of carer so that it will encompass a greater number of carers;
- Give local authorities a duty to prepare an adult carer support plan or young carer statement for anyone it identifies as a carer, or for any carer who requests one;
- Give local authorities a duty to provide support to carers that meet local eligibility criteria;
- Require local authorities and NHS boards to involve carers in the design, development and delivery of carers’ services;
- Give local authorities and health boards a duty to prepare a joint carers strategy for their area;
- Require local authorities to establish and maintain advice and information services for carers; and
- Require ministers to publish a carers’ charter setting out the rights of carers under the Bill.
The Health and Sport Committee published its Stage 1 report on the draft legislation and MSPs agreed to the general principles of the Bill following a Stage 1 debate on 5 November 2015. The Bill has since been amended following Stage 2 and Stage 3 consideration.
During the Stage 1 debate on the Bill, Scottish Government Minister Jamie Hepburn confirmed that "the arrangements for monitoring and assessing the implementation of the bill, including support provided to carers under local eligibility criteria, will be agreed with COSLA, individual local authorities, the National Carers Organisations and other key interests".
Self-directed support is designed to ensure people are given a range of options for how their social care is delivered, empowering people to decide how much ongoing control and responsibility they want over their own support arrangements, beyond just direct payments.
The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 requires local authorities in Scotland to offer people four choices on how they can get their social care. Other provisions in the Act include a power to authorities to support unpaid carers and duties on authorities to give information to help them make an informed choice.
The Scottish Government has published Carer’s Assessments (Scotland) Directions 2014, to accompany the Act. The document provides guidelines for local authorities to establish the circumstances where a carer is deemed to be providing ‘substantial’ support to an individual, assessing the effects on a carer’s mental health, and taking the age of a carer into account.
Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 includes provisions to establish a 'kinship care order' to enhance support provided to kinship carers who obtain an order under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. Eligible kinship carers will get help and advice if they apply for, or are considering applying for, a kinship care order, and will get enhanced support, when they get, or are subject to a kinship care order.
Carer Positive Employers Kitemark
A scheme to recognise employers who give extra help and support to carers in their workforce has been launched by the Scottish Government. Developed with Carers Scotland and launched to mark Carers' Week, the Carer Positive Employers Kitemark enables employers to sign up as a Carer Positive Employer in Scotland to demonstrate their commitment to supporting carers.
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