This Statistics Release presents information on respite care services provided or purchased by Local Authorities in Scotland to carers over the financial year 2014/15. These statistics have been produced to monitor the concordat commitment to provide 10,000 additional weeks of respite care, and the commitment made in The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015 to publish statistics on respite support for carers in each year up to 2015.
By carers, we mean people who provide unpaid care and support to family members, other relatives, friends and neighbours. The people they care for may be affected by disability, physical or mental health issues (often long-term), frailty, substance misuse or some other condition. Carers can be any age from young children to very elderly people.
- There are an estimated 759,000 carers aged 16+ in Scotland and 29,000 young carers age under 16
- Nearly a fifth of carers (18%) say they receive help from family or friends while 69% of carers say they receive no help with their caring responsibilities
Carers save the economy in Scotland an estimated £10.8bn each yearso support to carers can be of benefit to all (the carer, the person they are caring for and the local authority).
This publication looks at one aspect of support to carers by measuring the number of respite weeks provided or purchased by Local Authorities in Scotland. In order to achieve this, the numbers of nights and daytime hours of respite care are converted into the total number of respite weeks provided each year.
The introduction of Self-Directed Support, through the Act that came into force on 1 April 2014, has altered the way that care is provided. Self-Directed Support allows people, their carers and their families to make informed choices on what their support looks like and how it is delivered, making it possible to meet agreed personal outcomes. Local Authorities now have the power to provide support directly to carers to continue in their caring role.
The introduction of Self-Directed Support, however, makes it more difficult to record all respite care provided. Local Authorities will know where respite was identified as a need during the assessment process. Where people choose a direct payment or an individual service fund, however, the council may not know exactly how much was spent on respite services. This means that the survey data collected in 2013/14 and 2014/15 is likely to be less accurate than in previous years. As a result, the reduction in respite weeks gathered in the survey may or may not reflect a reduction to support for carers.
In addition, the value provided by these statistics has come into question for several other reasons:
- collecting the data is a large burden on local authorities (median of around 40 hours for each local authority to collect)
- while revised guidance has been issued, there are still differences in local interpretation of the guidance when determining whether or not a service can be considered to be respite care
- the volume of respite care provided on its own does not provide much useful information about the support provided to carers as support may take many forms including information and advice, a carers support plan, practical support, emotional support and much more
For these reasons, we do not intend to collect data on respite care in this way in the future. Our focus is changing from simply collecting the volume of respite care towards presenting information about carers and the overall support they receive. We will look at a variety of surveys and data sources to bring this together.
Given the issues described above, users should interpret the data contained in this Release in the context of these limitations and with reference to the detailed explanatory information provided.
Email: Steven Gillespie