Landmark new rights for unpaid carers

Improved access to support and advice. 

Significant new rights improving support and recognition for unpaid cares have come into force.

Under the Carers (Scotland) Act, all people who provide unpaid care for friends, family, and neighbours will now have the right to a personalised plan. This will identify their needs and help them access information, advice and support, before reaching a crisis point.

Local authorities and health boards will work together to prepare local carer strategies, setting out their plans for identifying and supporting carers in their community. The Act also ensures carers will be involved in individual decisions about their own support and what happens when the person they look after is discharged from hospital

Under the new rights, the definition of a carer will be extended, with the removal of the requirement for ‘substantial caring on a regular basis’, meaning more people will be able to access this support.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:

“Carers play a vital role in Scottish society, providing millions of hours of unpaid care a week for friends, family and neighbours. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

“It is vital that all carers receive the support they need to look after their own health and wellbeing, and have a life alongside caring. That is what the Carers Act will deliver.

“Our reforms will significantly boost the rights of carers and ensure that health boards, local authorities and others are doing all they can to identify and support the carers in their area.  

“Crucially, that means having their own needs identified and addressed, and being involved in decisions about their own support as well as the needs of the person they care for.”


There are an estimated 788,000 carers in Scotland, including 44,000 who are under 18. The value of care they provide is estimated at over £10 billion a year.

More information on the Carers (Scotland) Act and the new duties, which came into force on April 1 2018, is available online.


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