National carers strategy: executive summary

Unpaid care is vital to how social care is provided in Scotland, and the value of the dedication and expertise of carers cannot be overstated. This strategy sets out a range of actions to ensure they are supported fully in a joined up and cohesive way.

3. Health and Social Care Support

Strategic outcome

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. (National health and wellbeing outcome 6)

Why this is important

There is a close relationship between social care support for carers and those they look after. Supporting carers in their own right improves outcomes for them and the person for whom they are caring. Sustaining caring relationships in this way has major benefits for our health and social care system. The Scottish Government will work in partnership with local government and other relevant public bodies to ensure that unpaid carers are fully supported to have a life alongside caring, in order to protect their health and wellbeing and better sustain their caring role.

There are already various ways in which we try to safeguard carers' health, including providing preventative support through the Carers Act. However, we know that many carers continue to experience a range of health problems, including poor mental health and difficulties accessing medical appointments because of their caring responsibilities. We also know that accessing social care support can be a challenge for unpaid carers, often for many of the same reasons.

The nature of some caring roles can lead to increased risks to the carer's health and wellbeing. There are a number of reasons that can give rise to this, including insufficient support for the unpaid carer, a lack of trauma-informed support from services, a lack of breaks and economic and social isolation. This can lead to poorer outcomes for the person who is being cared for.

A strategic approach is needed to tackle the causes of this kind of situation, to ensure that carers are not overwhelmed by their responsibilities and are empowered to look after their own health and wellbeing. This must be reflected consistently across the whole country to foster a balanced and sustainable lifestyle for unpaid carers.

"Thank you for remembering carers and making them remember themselves even for a little while. It allowed me to give myself permission to do something for me. I am usually the last one on the list."

How we will achieve this

1. Where possible, we will increase funding to carer centres and young carer services.

2. We will continue to encourage authorities to spend their full share of Carers Act funding on expanding carer support, ahead of establishing a National Care Service making Ministers responsible for social care spending decisions.

3. We will support improvements in the data collected under the Carers Census so that only the most necessary information is collected and used to improve support for unpaid carers.

4. We will review and update Scotland's Carers.

5. We will introduce a statutory right to breaks from caring under the Carers Act and fully fund its implementation.

6. We will work with stakeholders to improve the availability and range of short breaks, supported by evidence to support our approach.

7. We will continue to work with local service commissioners, Shared Care Scotland and others to promote greater availability and choice of short break support in different areas.

8. We will build on our recent investment to increase funding for short break support to increase availability of easy-access preventative breaks support.

9. We will continue to promote the importance and regular review of Short Break Service Statements, to ensure carers understand their right to a break and the breaks available in their area.

10. In addition to updating the SDS Statutory Guidance, we will continue to work with and through delivery partners, including Local Authorities, to support and improve delivery of SDS consistently throughout Scotland and to support national conversations promoting improvement, early intervention, capacity-building, innovation and good practice.

11. In the medium-term, we will embed SDS principles and a human rights-based approach into the development of the National Care Service.

12. We will continue to focus on creatively and flexibly supporting carers through SDS.

13. We will consider how to provide flexible health appointments for carers, including how we provide replacement care for appointments.

14. We will continue to engage with NHS Boards to help drive implementation and support them to test and spread improvements to person-centred visiting.

15. We will reinforce to NHS Boards their statutory duty to involve carers in decision making about when the person they care for leaves hospital, and work in partnership to help them deliver this consistently.

16. We will support effective and carer-aware multi-disciplinary teams in every locality, both in and out of hours, involved in the strategic planning and delivery of services, including through the development of GIRFE.

17. We will consider what further resources and signposting of support may be needed to support carers' mental wellbeing within the National Wellbeing Hub.

18. We will work with relevant stakeholder groups to ensure that carers are aware of the range of mental health and wellbeing resources and advice available to them, and to consider whether carer-specific advice is needed.

19. We will share learning and examples of practice that emerge through our work on the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund projects in relation to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of carers.

20. We will improve training and support for health and social care professionals to help identify and support unpaid carers at risk of suicide and those who care for people at risk of suicide by promoting learning resources and awareness-raising on suicide prevention.

21. By spring 2023, we will publish a long-term delivery plan for the National Trauma Training Programme setting out how we will continue to support, embed and sustain trauma-informed workforces, services and care. This will include a priority focus on trauma training and support for adoptive parents, kinship, foster and supported carers to support delivery of The Promise.

22. We will engage widely throughout 2022/23 and co-produce with people living with dementia, carers, statutory, third sector and independent sector partners to develop our new National Dementia Strategy, building on our internationally recognised action in areas such as rights-based care and post-diagnostic support.

23. We will use the framework priorities to increase support for people with autism and their carers.

24. We will work closely with people with learning disabilities as role models, their carers and leaders to raise awareness and challenge perceptions in Scotland.

25. We will work with the NHS boards, integration authorities, neurological and carer organisations to help ensure carers of people living with neurological conditions are aware of their rights under the Carers Act; and that local carer services know how to access the most relevant information and training for carers of people living with neurological conditions.

26. We have committed £32 million of funding in 2022/23 directly to Children's Service Planning Partnerships (CSPPs) to build local service capacity for transformation and to support the scaling up of existing transformational practice of whole family support services in local areas.

27. We are working in collaboration with CSPPs to provide a range of support to accelerate and share learning to drive whole system change in family support at local and national level.

28. We have committed a further £2.974 million of funding in 2022/23 to provide support to families on a low income who are raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people through the Family Fund who deliver support, advice and direct grants to families in Scotland.

29. As part of the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan commitment, we will engage extensively with parents, carers and children to draft a strategic framework for 'Out of School Care' by the end of this Parliamentary term.

30. As we design a system of wraparound childcare, we will integrate food and childcare provision wherever possible recognising the benefit to children and families of coordinating food, childcare and activities before school and during the holidays.

"Thank you so much. I have longed for a solitary trip for a long time to just be able to "step off the merry-go-round" for a day or two. I am overwhelmed with gratitude."



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