Carers Census: results 2018 to 2019

First publication of results from the Carers Census, covering unpaid carers being supported by local services across Scotland in 2018 to 2019.

This document is part of a collection

1. Introduction

Unpaid carers provide care and support to family members, friends and neighbours. Any person can become a carer at any time in their life. The actual number of unpaid carers living in Scotland is not known but it was estimated that there were around 700,000 to 800,000 before the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent YouGov poll[1] suggests that number could have since grown to over a million.

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which was took effect on 1st April 2018, aims to enable unpaid carers to be better supported so that they can continue to care, if they wish to do so, while also having a life alongside caring. The Act introduces the right to a new Adult Carer Support Plan or Young Carer Statement based on each carer’s personal outcomes and needs for support. These are available to everyone providing unpaid care regardless of whether they are providing, or intend to provide, care on a substantial and regular basis.

This report presents an overview of the results from the Carers Census collection covering 2018/19. The Carers Census collects a variety of information on unpaid carers and the support they are provided in order to help monitor the implementation of the Act. Data is collected directly from Local Authorities and Carer Centres, which are independent charities that offer practical support, advice and information to unpaid carers.

The implementation of the Act was a significant change to practice and has required changes to the data that is collected by Local Authorities and Carer Centres and the design of new systems to collect and record that data. As this is the first year that the Carers Census has been run, not all providers were able to collect and record the information requested. As such, data for most areas is incomplete and the results presented here should be interpreted with this in mind since they will be an undercount of the true number of carers being supported by local services. 

For the first year, two six-month collections were run in order to identify potential data quality issues and help improve the quality of the data. This report is based on returns received during the second six-month collection only, as the first six-month collection was not of high enough quality for publication. We will continue to work with Local Authorities and Carer Centres to improve the quality of the data for future collections, which will be carried out on an annual basis going forward.

1.1 Note on Data Quality

As described above, since this was the first year of running the Carers Census, many data providers were still in the midst of designing new systems to collect and record the required data[2] at the time data was due to be submitted to Scottish Government. Data returns were received from over 80% of data providers; however, some providers were only able to return information on a subsection of the carers they support. As such, the number of carers reported here will be less than the true number of carers in contact with local services.

Data returns also varied in terms of data completeness. On the whole, demographic variables were well returned while other variables such as those related to support plans and carers’ needs were less well returned. This means that certain analysis presented in Sections 3.3 and 3.4 is based on a smaller number of carers for whom the relevant information was provided. 

As such, the figures presented here will not reflect the true number of adult carer support plans and young carer statements prepared or the support which carers receive under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. We expect to see improvement in the number of variables returned over time as data providers’ systems are improved in order to better collect and record this information.

The data from the first six-month collection, for which returns were received from roughly half of data providers, was not of high enough quality to be included in the analysis. Following this collection, the guidance for the Carers Census was refined to ensure that data was returned on a consistent basis. Data providers were then asked to submit the full year’s data for 2018/19 during the second collection; however, some providers were only able to submit data for the second six months of 2018/19.

Therefore, caution should be taken when interpreting the results included in this report. All figures presented in this report are rounded. Please read the footnotes accompanying the tables and charts for further notes on data quality.

The data for the tables and charts is available in an accompanying Excel document.



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