Showing we care
Act offers more support
Unpaid and often unsung heroes of the care community are about to be recognised, and hopefully helped, by law and other programmes.
The Carers ( Scotland) Act 2016 came into effect on Easter Sunday and South Lanarkshire Carers Network ( SLCN) wants everyone to know that it exists, and how it can assist.
The organisation, f o rmed in Ma r ch 1999, said: “The Carers (Scotland) Act is viewed as a positive step towards ensuring carers are acknowledged and valued for the important role they play in society. The implementation of the act will help carers to access the right support at the right time and at the right level at each stage of their caring role.”
Denise Gillespie, network business manager with the SLCN charity - which works in Rutherglen and Cambuslang - added: “We welcome this act and all the benefits it will bring. It shows carers how valuable they are.
“However, only when it is in progress will we be able to see if it is working.
“There will be many groups and people waiting to see if it fits their needs.
“The act has been a long time in coming and the issues it address are always evolving but we believe it is better to have this act in place.”
The legislation enshrines new eligibility criteria and support plans for carers.
According to the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, a carer is someone who provides care for another individual where this is not part of any paid employment or formal volunteering.
Denise said: “We all care for those we love without question, because we love them. But carers can feel invisible in their community and society.”
It can be difficult, for example, for caregivers themselves to get a break.
SLCN took part in the lengthy consultation period on the act, which builds on and consolidates other legislation, and will continue to raise awareness about it.
Denise added: “Our role this year is raising awareness of the act. We have a whole campaign around that and we will be taking people step-by-step through all the sections.
“Locally we will speak to carers at meetings and we will aim to signpost the act for them. Our role is to encourage everyone to share it, read it, talk about it and empower themselves.”
The carers’ charter to accompany the act sets out the rights of carers under the legislation.
Denise said: “This act applies to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or anything else. However there is a distinction between adult and young carers with regards to their needs and outcomes.
“Ou r c a re r s a re themselves getting older as the population ages. They are also giving care over a longer period, as people are living longer due to good health care, and are often in need of care themselves.”
At the other end of the spectrum are young carers who are entitled to support. Young Scot, the national youth information and citizenship charity for people aged 11 to 26, offers insight into the act on its website.
It says: “[ Under the act] young carers have the right to a young carers statement... It will contain information about the young person’s circumstances and caring role.”
The site goes on to say that the local authority is responsible for offering a young carers statement to anyone identified in this category but that may vary if the local authority where the young person stays is different from the one in charge where they go to school.
A new project to provide Young Scot opportunities specifically tailored to the needs of young carers is being backed by Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement along with a new Young Carer Grant in autumn 2019 – worth £300 a year – and future free bus travel for young carers who undertake at least 16 hours of caring a week.
Young Scot is working with a new Young Carer’s Vision Panel to co-design the offer.
Louise Macdonald, chief executive of Young Scot, said: “The experiences of young carers will be at the very heart of this project. It’s hugely important that we work with young carers so that the new information, rewards and entitlements will benefit their lives when and where it matters most.”