A New Year’s message from Scotland’s National Carer Organisations
2015 is a significant year for Scotland’s estimated 953,000 unpaid carers. After ten years of campaigning, carers have been promised new rights through the Carers Bill, which will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament later this year.
After waiting for more than a decade, carers need rights and entitlements which are substantial, enforceable and which make a meaningful difference to their lives.
Because, according to a report published  by Carers UK, many of Scotland’s carers are at breaking point, tired of having to fight for support which they have no lawful right to.
Donald MacLeod, who cares for his daughter, who has Down Syndrome, and his son who has autism, explains: “At all levels within our nation, Scotland’s carers need to experience a constancy of purpose, a clarity of policy and a consistency of practice. This can only be achieved when carers have a legal entitlement to support and are recognised, respected and rightfully seen as equal and expert partners with health and social care professionals.”
So, while many New Year Resolutions are aimed at making improvements, perhaps by giving up smoking or exercising more, we are calling on the government to improve the lives of carers by taking up our New Year’s Resolution:
To give carers the right to the support they need to sustain them in their caring role, based on a national framework that ensures this right is implemented consistently across Scotland.
Carers should at last have a right to the support they are assessed as needing, in particular information about the condition of the person they are caring for and what services are available locally, a break from caring to re-charge or simply get some sleep, emotional support to help them cope with the emotional demands of caring and changing family relationships, and training to help them develop the skills they need and to protect their own health.
When someone takes on the role of caring for a loved one they naturally expect that our society will provide some protection and be there to take the strain when they need support themselves. It comes as a big shock to carers to learn that they have no right to support, even when they are caring all day – through the night – and without the prospect (says Shared Care Scotland, here) of time off . Often, it takes carers to reach crisis before they can finally get some help.
Robert Price, a carer from North Lanarkshire, who is also a mechanic, describes it well: “Would you leave the red warning light on in your car until it breaks down? No! So, why are carers not given help when they ask for it and are left until they break down?”
The Carers Bill must include an entitlement for carers to access support at an early stage to prevent them reaching crisis point. They deserve to have similar respect and safeguards that paid workers enjoy who take training, breaks and support for granted. After all, carers save the Scottish Government over £10 billion a year, more than the entire NHS budget. Scotland’s New Year’s Resolution must be to start giving carers something back!
About The National Carer Organisations
The National Carer Organisations are brought together by a shared vision that all Scotland’s unpaid carers will be valued, included and supported as equal partners in the provision of care and will be able to enjoy a life outside of caring.
They are Carers Scotland, the Coalition of Carers in Scotland, Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project (MECOPP), Carers Trust Scotland, the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, Crossroads Caring Scotland and Shared Care Scotland.
The National Carer Organisations Contacts:
- Claire Cairns, Coalition of Carers in Scotland. Tel: 01786 850247 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fiona Collie, Carers Scotland. Tel: 0141 445 3070 email@example.com
- Heather Noller, Carers Trust Scotland. Tel: 0300 123 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Suzanne Munday, MECOPP Tel: 0131 467 2994 email@example.com
 Carers at breaking point, Carers UK, 2014
 Rest assured? A study of unpaid carers’ experiences of short breaks, IRISS, Shared Care Scotland, COCIS, MECOPP, 2012
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Shared Care Scotland contact details….