We would like to thank Andrew Strong, Policy and Information Manager, at the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) for his contribution today. Andrew presented evidence on the Carers Bill proposals to the Health and Sport Committee on behalf of the ALLIANCE, which used information from the survey where 160 of you told us what was important to you and what needed to be improved upon to help make the caring experience more manageable.
Here, he shares an update on the meeting and the next steps for helping to ensure that carers get better support in the future.
What needs to change to make a positive difference in the lives of carers across Scotland? More information and advice? Better services? Greater understanding of what it’s like to be a carer?
The recent carers survey results, compiled by the ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices project over an eighteen month period and analysed by experts from Glasgow University, highlight that all of these are priority areas which we need to make sure that carers see progress on immediately.
The publication of carers views was timely – coinciding as it did with the new Carers (Scotland) Bill and the invitation of third sector organisations, including the ALLIANCE, to provide evidence to the Health and Sport Committee on its contents on Tuesday 5 May.
I joined colleagues from Carers Scotland, Carers Trust (Scotland), the Coalition of Carers in Scotland and others in welcoming the Bill’s recognition that, to date, the support available to carers hasn’t been enough. In my view, a Bill sitting before Parliament which is attempting to address some of this is a credit to the campaigning efforts of many, many carers across the country who have rightly been saying so for years.
Despite this however, we are left with a number of unanswered questions:
- What do we mean when we say support for carers? Respite isn’t enough – carers need adequate access to other types of assistance such as advocacy.
- Who will be eligible for support and how will we make sure that in one local authority you can expect a comparable level of support as the next?
- How will charities be properly funded to make sure they can continue to support carers?
Alongside this there are is one area where specific provision is, in my view, required urgently – emergency and future planning. Since I started working with and for carers in 2006, I have met many who are worried about what will happen if they are suddenly unable to care – a role which, in some cases, they have undertaken for fifty years or more. At the ALLIANCE, we have joined ENABLE Scotland in expressing our view that much more needs to be done to recognise this concern, and give people peace of mind for the future. The starting point for that would be the inclusion of emergency and future planning as part of the new adult carers support plan process.
So where does that leave us? The Health and Sport Committee will be convening more evidence sessions in the coming weeks – including with statutory agencies who will now have a duty placed on them to support carers. I would encourage everyone to make their views known to their local MSP, as I know many already do. Your voice is vital in making sure carers get better support in the future.
Andrew Strong, Policy and Information Manager, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)