The Scottish Government and COSLA are determined to ensure that carers are supported to manage their caring responsibilities with confidence and in good health, and to have a life of their own outside of caring.
We are pleased to have worked together with a range of interests, including Health Boards, the national carer organisations and carers in developing this strategy. It will build on the support already in place and take forward the recommendations of the landmark report, Care 21: The Future of Unpaid Care in Scotland.
We recognise carers as equal partners in the delivery of care in Scotland and fully acknowledge carers' expertise, knowledge and the quality of care they give. With appropriate support, especially support delivered early to prevent crisis, caring need not have an adverse impact on carers.
Caring Together sets out 10 key actions to improve support to carers over the next five years. The focus is on improved identification of carers, assessment, information and advice, health and well-being, carer support, participation and partnership.
In support of this agenda, the Scottish Government is pleased to announce an investment of a further £1 million in 2010-11 to voluntary sector organisations to provide more innovative short breaks provision in Scotland.
The strategy sits within a wider context and reform agenda, with carers at the heart of this agenda. In order to achieve lasting change both for carers and the people they care for, we need to drive forward a range of policy developments, such as action to tackle health inequalities and household income. We need to do more to shift resources from institutional care to care at home, including support for carers. The Reshaping Care for Older People Strategic Delivery Plan, which is in preparation, will articulate the extent of the shift in resources within the system.
We are also pleased to have produced Getting it Right for Young Carers, which we believe will result in better outcomes for young carers. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first ever national young carers' strategy in Europe.
We recognise that many young people can benefit from providing care to a relative or friend affected by illness, disability or substance misuse. However, we are committed to ensuring that young carers are relieved of inappropriate caring roles and are supported to be children and young people first and foremost.
We are taking important steps to improve young carer identification and support within schools, colleges and the health service. The strategy also endorses an approach which organises services around the child or young person so that all the needs of the child or young person will be identified and addressed, including the impact of caring on their health, well-being and education.
In support of this agenda, the Scottish Government is pleased to announce funding of £150,000 for a fourth Young Carers Festival in 2011. This will bring together young carers from all over Scotland to socialise, have a break from caring and let them meet other young carers. Young carers will be able to tell national and local decision-makers what difference this strategy is making (or not) to their lives one year on from publication.
There is an important point relevant to both Caring Together and Getting it Right for Young Carers. The Scottish Government gave Health Boards £9 million for Carer Information Strategies in the last three years, with £5 million of this allocated this year. Until the Spending Review is concluded, the Scottish Government cannot confirm the resource of £5 million from April 2011 onwards. However, we see this as a priority for that review. Also, completion of some of the other actions in this strategy will depend on the outcome of the review.
We believe that Caring Together and Getting it Right for Young Carers represent an important step forward in creating a framework for action. Together, and through implementation of this strategy over the next five years, we will improve the lives of carers and young carers.
Minister for Public Health and Sport
Councillor Douglas Yates
COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing
Minister for Children and Early Years
Councillor Isabel Hutton
COSLA Spokesperson on Education, Children and Young People