6. CARERS RIGHTS
The purpose of this chapter is to set out the Scottish Government's view on the development of carers' rights. Once commenced, the Equality Act 2010 will be an important step forward, as will the provisions in the forthcoming Self-Directed Support (Scotland) Bill. We emphasise that existing carers' rights (as enshrined in law) should be further enhanced by the development of a Carers Rights Charter, which will consolidate in one place the existing rights and will set out key principles of support to carers and outcomes. The Scottish Government will consider whether further rights should be enshrined in law.
6.1 The Equality Act 2010 will prohibit direct discrimination and harassment based on association and perception in respect of race, sex, gender reassignment, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age in relation to employment and other areas. This legislation will cover cases where the less favourable treatment is due to the victim's association with someone who, for example, is disabled. The discrimination will be unlawful in relation to a person's employment and also through the provision of services and housing and in other areas.
6.2 The Patient Rights (Scotland) Bill aims to place patients at the centre of the NHS in Scotland. If approved by the Scottish Parliament, this healthcare legislation will help ensure that patients' rights and entitlements are more widely understood and used. As part of the requirements, there are expected to be Patient Rights Officers for Health Board areas. This will have direct relevance to carers.
6.3 The Self-Directed Support (Scotland) Bill will seek, amongst other things, to give local authorities the power to provide direct payments to carers.
6.4 Self-directed support is one form of personalised support which ensures individuals can choose how and by whom their support is provided. Evidence suggests that self-directed support and direct payments can lead to improved outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
6.5 The Scottish Government has consulted on a draft National Strategy on Self-Directed Support and is consulting on proposals for a Self-Directed Support (Scotland) Bill. One of the aims in the Bill would be to extend eligibility for direct payments to various groups that are currently excluded, including carers. The Bill would provide local authorities with greater flexibility so that they can provide support to carers in the form of a direct payment.
6.6 The aim is to remove barriers to people taking up self-directed support, including direct payments. Barriers to direct payments include: assumptions and attitudes about the characteristics of people who may benefit from them; limitations on the use of the allocated budget; and the challenges of sustaining current services whilst investing in new individualised approaches.
6.7 The use of direct payments can help meet the needs of certain sections of the carer population, including BME service users and carers. The Minority Ethnic Carers Older People's Project ( MECOPP) is supporting a group of BME carers and the people they care for in West Lothian to pool their direct payments together to facilitate support within mainstream daycare services.
6.8 Current direct payments' legislation only allows direct payments to be used to employ a close family member in exceptional circumstances, "…where securing the service from such a person is necessary to satisfactorily meet the service users' assessed needs." It is important that this facility is made known to carers from the outset and is used where this could provide best outcomes, for example when:
- a person requires end-of-life care;
- there are few service providers in rural or remote areas;
- it is considered to be the most appropriate way of meeting an individual's cultural needs; or
- a feature of the person's disability is challenging behaviour towards strangers.
6.9 Carers' rights which are not enshrined in law can be taken forward in a number of different ways. In particular, as well as the provisions in this strategy relating to, for example, the provision of information and advice, carer training, short breaks and telecare, the Scottish Government will also ensure that carer representatives are members of Community Health Partnerships ( CHPs) - see chapter 7 for further details.
6.10 The Scottish Government intends to raise the profile of carers' issues widely through a Carers Rights Charter setting out and consolidating existing rights, what carers need to help achieve better outcomes and what local authorities, Health Boards and others need to do to support carers. A clear set of principles in support of carers will be established. The Charter will be widely distributed.
ACTION POINT 6.1
From 2010 onwards, the Scottish Government will work with the national carer organisations to promote the Equality Act 2010, once commenced, especially the provisions providing protection from discrimination for carers.
ACTION POINT 6.2
The Scottish Government will work with COSLA and local authorities to ensure a consistent approach across local authorities to the employment of close family members in exceptional circumstances. The guidance on implementation of the Self-Directed Support Strategy, to be produced by the Scottish Government, will include a section on approaches to the employment of close family members in exceptional circumstances.
ACTION POINT 6.3
By December 2011, the Scottish Government will produce, with COSLA and partners, a Carers Rights Charter for wide distribution to local authorities, Health Boards, Community Health Partnerships and other bodies. By July 2013, the Scottish Government will consider whether further rights should be enshrined in law.