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August 2002

New Rights For Scotland's Carers

New legal rights to ensure the many thousands of unpaid carers get the help and support they need come into force on Sunday.

From that date many carers will have extended rights under the Community Care and Health Act 2002.

At present, carers can only have their own needs assessed when the person they are caring for is being assessed.

This new legislation will enhance carers' rights:

  • carers will be entitled to an assessment whenever they want, regardless of whether the cared for person is being assessed
  • young carers will have the same right to an assessment (currently those under 16 do not)
  • local authorities will have a duty to tell carers they know of about their entitlement to assessment
  • local authorities will be required to recognise the care that a carer is providing and listen to the views of the carer in deciding what additional care services to provide, not to take the carer's contribution for granted
  • Ministers to have the power to require NHS Boards to have strategies in place for informing cares about their rights

At the Princess Royal Trust Carers Centre in Edinburgh, Deputy Health and Community Care Minister Frank McAveety said:

"The Executive is committed to supporting carers. There are over 600,000 people in Scotland who are making an immense contribution caring for friends and family who are frail, sick, disabled or vulnerable.

"It is no exaggeration to say that carers are the backbone of our whole community care system -we simply could not manage without the vital care they give.

"These new provisions recognise the crucial role of carers as partners in providing care, and give them more rights and recognition than they have ever had in the past. These new legal rights will improve support for carers by giving them greater access to help and information.

"There are many different ways of caring, and many different caring situations. We know that significant numbers of young people provide care, usually to members of their own families. Local authorities and other bodies have a responsibility to work together to ensure that families are properly supported so that children do not have to take on inappropriate caring roles that affect their own welfare.

"But where children under 16 are involved in caring, this new legislation will ensure that for the first time they also have the right to be assessed as a carer.

"The Executive has already given substantial resources to local authorities to ensure that carers and the people they look after are supported better.

"We look to local authorities, working in partnership with others, to use their resources effectively to maximise the support available to Scotland's carers."

The introduction of the new rights was also welcomed by leading carers' bodies. Angela O'Hagan, Director of Carers Scotland, said:

"Carers Scotland welcome the new rights for carers in this Act, and look forward to them making a practical and positive difference to carers' lives. Carers themselves were closely involved in the process of developing this legislation which underlines their role as key partners in the provision of care."

Colin Williams, Scottish Director of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, said:

"The Princess Royal Trust welcomes the new status given to carers as key partners in the provision of care. The increasing focus on the need to find and support carers is welcomed. Carers are the backbone of care in the community. By working together we can ensure that the vision conveyed in the Carers' Strategy and legislation will be implemented effectively."

"Carers" are defined as people who support or look after family, partners of friend in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability. They are not paid for providing this care.

There are over 600,000 carers in Scotland - 12 per cent of the adult population.

Most are aged between 45-64.

62 per cent are women.

Approximately 50 per cent will look after someone over 75.

49 per cent will combine caring and employment.

26 per cent are retired and a further 25 per cent are economically inactive.

It is estimated that there are over 6,000 young carers in Scotland.

About 20 per cent will spend at least 20 hours a week caring.

Approximately 60 per cent have no regular visits from health, social services or the voluntary sector. Little is known about the numbers of carers in ethnic minority households.

The new rights introduced by the Community Care and Health Act 2002 apply to any carer who provides or intends to provide "a substantial amount of care on a regular basis". Local authority social work staff can interpret this definition locally and in the light of each individual carer's role and circumstances.

The Executive provides substantial resources to local authorities to help carers, including 10 million a year from April 2000 onwards for services to support carers to implement the Carers Strategy for Scotland. From April 2001 onwards the Executive has given local authorities further new resources (22 million over 3 years) to provide at least 22,000 more weeks a year respite care or short breaks across Scotland by 2003-04.

 

Links
Cares Online Scotland

Contact A Family  - For Families With Disabled Children
Community Care and Health Act Scotland Act 2002
Princes Royal Trust For Carers
Crossroads     
Coalition Of Carers In Scotland

Shared Care Scotland
Care Commission
Caithness Links
Crossroads Caithness Branch

Caithness Community Care Forum
Carers National Association - Caithness Branch
Caithness Support Groups In Health & Welfare
Caithness Directory of Physical Aids

Other Care Related Links