The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 ("the Act") came in to force on 1st April 2018.
The intention of the Act is to ensure that Scotland's estimated 745,000 adult carers and 44,000 young carers are identified and supported on a more consistent basis; to enable them to continue to care, if they so wish, in good health and to have a life alongside caring.
In relation to young carers, the intention is that young carers should have a childhood similar to other children and have the same future opportunities.
The Act sits within the wider context of the Scottish Government's aim to build a fairer Scotland and strong sustainable economy; tackling inequalities in society; and delivering public services in communities. In particular, our Programme for Government 2018/2019 focuses on the values of kindness, dignity and compassion as being core to the kind of Scotland we want to see. Our National Health and Wellbeing Outcome 6 also highlights the importance of supporting carers and recognises the potential impact of caring:
"People who provide unpaid care are supported to look after their own health and wellbeing, including to reduce any negative impact of their caring role on their own health and wellbeing."
The Act extends and enhances the rights of unpaid carers in Scotland, by giving all carers the right to an adult carer support plan (ACSP) from their responsible local authority or young carer statement (YCS) from the responsible authority. An ACSP and YCS is a document prepared by this authority setting out the carers personal outcomes, identified needs and support to be provided to meet those needs. Local authorities have a duty to provide support to carers where their identified needs, as detailed in the ACSP or YCS, meet the local eligibility criteria (unless those needs can be met by universal services or extra support for the cared-for person). Early identification of carers is key to successful implementation of the Act, so that carers can access support early in their caring journey, to help prevent problems.
The Act requires Scottish Ministers to set timescales for preparing adult carer support plans and young carer statements for carers of people who are terminally ill with a life expectancy of up to 6 months. Authorities are already required to offer an ACSP or YCS to every carer they know about. In line with our focus on early identification, we therefore expect many carers of people who are terminally ill to have had an ACSP or YCS well before the 6-month definition is reached. We know that authorities already prioritise ACSPs and YCSs for these carers, so we expect the time limits to be set will act as a backstop rather than a target.
This consultation seeks views on:
- the overall outcome these regulations should seek to support and the principles they should follow;
- when the timescales in the regulations should be triggered, i.e. when the clock should start;
- time limits for holding the first substantive conversation with the carer to start preparing an adult carer support plan or young carer statement; and
- time limits for completing an adult carer support plan or young carer statement.
The proposals in this consultation have been informed by research by Marie Curie, 'Getting it right for carers supporting someone at end of life', which investigated and considered the needs of carers in these situations.
The consultation has also been developed with input from a task group involving representatives from Palliative Care Scotland, Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, Association of Palliative Care Social Workers, Children's Hospices Across Scotland, Carers Trust Scotland and COSLA.
Consultation responses will be analysed and considered with input from the task group to help inform the final regulations and associated guidance.
This consultation is open for a period of 12 weeks. (18/01/2019 – 12/04/2019)
Email: Joanne Pierce