Carers (Scotland) Act 2016: statutory guidance - updated July 2021

Statutory guidance for local authorities, health boards and integration authorities on effective implementation of the provisions of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 (‘the Act’). It will also be of interest to other organisations working alongside statutory bodies to deliver carer support.


This is statutory guidance for local authorities, health boards and integration authorities. It will also be of interest to other organisations working alongside statutory bodies to deliver carer support, as well as the directing authorities of independent or grant aided schools responsible for young carer statements. It is designed to provide guidance on effective implementation of the provisions of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 ('the Act'). Also, it includes links to legislation and policy documents, which are clearly set out in each part of the guidance.

The aims of the Act

It is the intention of the Scottish Government that Scotland's estimated 788,000 carers including 44,000 young carers are better supported on a more consistent basis so that they can continue to care, if they so wish, in good health and wellbeing, allowing them to have a life alongside caring.

The overriding intention for young carers is that they should have a childhood similar to their non-carer peers. We want to ensure that young carers are enabled to be children and young people first and foremost and relieved of any inappropriate caring roles to allow them to have a quality of life.

The Act makes real this ambition by furthering the rights of both adult and young carers.

Provisions and intentions

The Act introduces the right to a new adult carer support plan or young carer statement based on the preventative approach to identify each carer's personal outcomes and needs for support. This will improve access to support for adult and young carers without any requirement that that they are providing, or intend to provide, care on a substantial and regular basis.

The adult carer support plan and young carer statement will encourage meaningful conversations with individual carers to understand personal needs and outcomes. Engaging effectively with carers as equal partners will help empower them with more useful information about the support that may be available to them. This is also reflected in the requirements to involve carers in hospital discharge processes.

The Act introduces a duty to set local eligibility criteria frameworks in each local authority area. These frameworks will help local authorities determine the level of support to provide to carers based on their identified needs

By ensuring more personalised and effective delivery of support to carers, the Act seeks to address the issues that may reduce or impede the wellbeing and positive outcomes for Scotland's carers. Improving the physical and emotional wellbeing of carers also benefits those being cared for and can help to sustain good caring relationships.

Across Scotland, there will be local carer strategies developed which will set out the provision of services to adult and young carers in each integration authority. These carer strategies will also set out plans for how carers are identified and how they receive information about local support in their area.

A cornerstone of the Act is the provision of information and advice services to carers, which must be accessible and proportionate to the needs of carers who use these services. The third sector is well placed in helping to deliver information and advice services to carers.

There is also a requirement for carers and carer representatives to be involved in the preparation of short breaks services statements and planning of carer services, sharing their caring experiences and knowledge with those responsible for providing these services.

A separate Carers' charter will be published setting out the rights of carers as provided for under the Act.

Preparation of guidance

This statutory guidance to accompany the Act is published following collaboration and consultation with a number of key interests, including: adult and young carers; carer organisations; local authorities; health boards; health and social care partnerships; third-sector organisations; COSLA; Social Work Scotland; NES; SSSC and others.

We thank all of our partners in helping to inform this document.

Using this guidance

The Scottish Government encourages those who are responsible for delivering good quality support which benefits carers, and through supporting the needs and personal outcomes of carers, to use this guidance in the spirit of the Act itself, and with the intention of delivering preventative, personalised support which will empower carers through improved choice and control.

It is also important that local authorities, health boards, integration authorities, and others continue to share learning and good practice, helping to ensure successful implementation of new frameworks across the country. Establishing and maintaining good partnerships with third sector organisations will also play an important part in delivering effective local personalised support to carers, which meets their personal outcomes and helps them continue in their caring role.

The guidance includes examples where they are helpful to explain wider points. These examples are illustrative of possible cases and, by their nature, should not be read as providing a full picture of situations or approaches.



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