Annex B - Implications of research findings for wider carer policy
As part of the commissioned qualitative research, Ipsos MORI were asked to outline any implications that their research findings may have for future policy development.
The considerations outlined below relate to the wider government outcomes for carers and how these may be achieved in the long-term. Though relevant context to the research findings these considerations do not relate to social security interventions generally, or CAS or Carer's Allowance specifically, but rather broader carer policy. Therefore, a discussion of these considerations has not been included in the main body of the evaluation report, but in this Annex instead.
For each consideration, current or future Scottish Government initiatives designed to extend support for carers have been outlined in order to show how these considerations may be addressed going forward.
It was suggested that improvements in quality of life and reducing the negative impacts of caring may require increased access to respite care. This would enable those carers who reported feeling the mental and physical stresses of providing round-the-clock care more frequent and regular breaks, and some opportunity to pursue other activities.
The Scottish Government understands that allowing carers time away from their caring role on a planned and regular basis is important to support them with their own health and wellbeing and increase resilience within the caring role.
Under the Carers (Scotland) Act, carers have a right to a personalised plan to identify what is important to them. This may include their wishes to have time away from their caring role. Carers also have the right to support to meet their eligible needs, and their local authorities must consider whether that support should include a break from caring. The 2020-21 budget contains an additional £11.6 million in the local government settlement for Carers Act implementation. This brings the total additional Scottish Government investment in local carer services since April 2018 to £39.5 million per year.
Additionally, since 2010, over £29 million has been provided for the voluntary-sector Short Breaks Fund, administered by Shared Care Scotland and Family Fund. We have committed another £3 million for 2020-21.
We realise that during the COVID-19 pandemic carers will be under increased pressure and finding it difficult to take a break. That is why we have allocated extra funding to the Family Fund's Take a Break Fund to support an additional 650 families with disabled children to take a break. In addition, the Cabinet Secretary for Health announced an extra £300,000 for young carer support during this year's Carers Week.
£100,000 of this funding has gone to Shared Care Scotland to extend the Time to Live fund, allowing more young carers to access a micro-grant to spend on something of their choosing which will help them to take a break. The remaining £200,000 was provided to Young Scot to add new e-vouchers and opportunities suitable for home use and physical distancing to their young carer package for 11-18 year olds.
We have also been working with partners to release guidance to support the reopening of day services and stand-alone residential respite. These services can now re-open following safe sign-off by local statutory bodies.
It was proposed that providing carers with advice and support on reducing the sense of isolation that respondents faced would also help in regard to improving carer quality of life. It was suggested that this might be achieved by taking advantage, of some of the initiatives and technological solutions that have been developed across the wider community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Under the Carers (Scotland) Act, local authorities have a duty to provide an information and advice service for all carers in their area. Local carer centres are often commissioned to provide this service for carers and are well placed to signpost them to support that is available to them to help meet their needs.
As many local carer centres have been unable to open during lockdown, the Scottish Government set up a £500,000 fund to support them to transition to remote working. This enabled services to purchase equipment and programmes that allowed them to support carers over the phone and online. This funding was accompanied by an offer of wrap-around support from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) so staff were properly trained in using the new technology.
We have also made sure that local services are aware of other relevant funds and digital opportunities, such as the Connecting Scotland scheme, which is administered at local level.
We will continue to work with carers and partners to understand how the learning from COVID-19 can be taken forward to ensure that carers are supported.
It was also indicated that increasing recognition of the role of carers among the general public might also require a different approach. Suggestions from participants included carers talking more about the role – one said that they should 'open up about it' as people have done more recently with mental health issues – and increased representation on television and in the media.
The Scottish Government has committed to a dedicated national marketing campaign to raise awareness of carers and caring, and to encourage them to seek support. The campaign is currently under development and will be launched in Autumn with TV ads, social media and press content. It is our hope that this campaign will have broad reach, encourage carers to self-identify and seek support and also increase awareness of carer issues amongst the wider public.
Recognising that young carers often do not self-identify, we have also funded Young Scot to run a social media campaign aimed at this audience. This was launched during Carers Week and will run until Autumn. It seeks to increase self-identification amongst young carers and prompts them to sign up for support such as the Young Scot young carer package.
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