Local authorities have a duty of care to carers

Ahead of the stage 3 debate on the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) bill next week, Scottish Liberal Democrats have lodged amendments seeking to strengthen the Bill in terms of the support that it offers to unpaid carers.

The amendments would give local authorities a duty to provide support for carers, where it is assessed as being needed to help them in their caring role. They will also formally recognise carers as being key partners in the provision of care.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Jim Hume MSP, will argue that while the bill is an important step forward, many carers are worried that without these proposed amendments the bill will fail to deliver the necessary improvements for them in their everyday lives.

Commenting ahead of the debate, Mr Hume said:

“There are over 650,000 unpaid carers in Scotland providing care worth around £10 billion each year. Strengthening their right to receive support will help carers to continue caring. Even small levels of support can, if delivered at the right time, prevent crises which can often lead to the cared-for individual having to be hospitalised or go into residential care.

“Our amendments would change the bill so that local authorities have a duty to provide support for carers, where it is identified as needed. Without the valuable contribution of Scotland’s carers the health and social care system would be unsustainable. This is the preventative step needed to ensure that carers do not have to battle to receive help they need to continue in their caring role.

“As our population ages the balance of health and care delivery will continue to shift into our communities. I support the efforts of the coalition of carer organisations in Scotland, who have campaigned tirelessly for more help for our carers. I also support their calls for carers to be recognised as key partners in the provision of care. It is important that a carer’s voice is heard during the assessment process and when packages of care and support are being agreed and set up.

“I hope that political parties will recognise the necessity of this amendment and vote in its favour, especially as we face major demographic strains on health and social care. If we are to create a sustainable and robust system of support for carers, local authorities must have a duty to care for carers.”