Health and Sport Committee - Carers Bill
Call for Evidence details
Alzheimer Scotland responded to the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee, following its written call for written views on the Carers (Scotland) Bill to inform its scrutiny of the legislation as the lead committee at stage 1.
The Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill setting out the rights of people in a caregiving role and placing duties on local authorities to support their needs. Some of the main provisions of the Bill include
Provision for the preparation of adult carer support plans, which involve identifying the needs and support to be provided to adult carers.
- Placing a duty on local authorities to provide support to carers where local eligibility criteria (set by local authorities) are met, including the provision of short breaks.
- Making provision for national eligibility criteria to be set (against which local eligibility criteria must be measured).
- Requiring local authorities and health boards to involve carers in the carer services that they provide.
- Requiring local authorities to prepare and publish local strategies concerning, among other things, the support they intend to provide to carers.
- Requiring local authorities to establish and maintain an information and advice service for carers.
Summary of Response
Alzheimer Scotland welcomed the principles underpinning the the Bill, and that in particular, the Cares Bill:
- Replaces the Carer’s Assessments with Adult Carer Support Plans.
- Will place a duty on local authorities to meet the needs and respect the rights of people in a care-giving role.
- Requires local authorities, in determining the needs of carers, to give consideration to whether support should take the form of, or include, a break from caring.
- Requires local authorities to prepare local carer strategies for their areas.
- Establishes provisions for the establishment of information and advice services for carers in each local authority, including a short breaks services statement.
- Establishes the principle of involvement, requiring the inclusion of carers in all services delivered by local authorities and health boards for carers and cared-for persons.
However, there are elements within the Bill with which Alzheimer Scotland has some concerns, including a number of areas we addressed in our response to the pre-legislative consultation. These included:
- Our concern that the use of the term ‘short break’ is not adequately clear and may be open to different interpretations between professionals, carers and organisations as to what a ‘short break’ constitutes.
- Our belief that the regulations and/or statutory guidance must ensure local authorities provide accessible formats to carers which must take into consideration the different circumstances and additional needs that carers may have and should further require them to work with partners to find ways to support meaningful involvement of carers.
- Our belief that the local authority in which the care-giver resides should not be the de-facto ‘responsible local authority’. We takes the view, informed by members of our National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN) and other carers, that the lead local authority in these circumstances should be the one where the cared-for person lives; the support the carer receives will have a direct impact on the amount and type of support that is required by the cared-for person.
- Our concern that the Bill should contain 'core' eligibility criteria set nationally, either in the face of the Bill or through regulations in consultation with local authorities, carer groups and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure a level of consistency in provision across local authority areas.
- Alzheimer Scotland's concern about the provisions which will allow Local Authorities to specify timescales for completing an Adult Carer Support Plan for an identified carer within their own Local Carer Strategy. We believe that this may lead to considerable variation in waiting times across the country. In addition to the potential variation as a result of local eligibility criteria, we are extremely concerned that there will be no consistency of provision or support for carers across Scotland, and no improvement in their outcomes, undermining the purpose of this legislation