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Support for carers in Scotland
The new Carers (Scotland) Act came into effect on 1 April 2018.
The new definition of a carer is someone who provides, or intends to provide, care for another adult. (Previously, a carer was someone who provided a substantial amount of care on a regular basis.)
As a carer, you will have a right to support to meet your eligible needs. These are defined by your local council. Eligibility will focus on the impact of the caring on each carer and their family on seven aspects of their life:
- health and wellbeing
- living environment
- employment and training
- life balance
- planning for the future
It also involves looking at how sustainable the care they provide is. It’s a good idea to get in touch with your local council to find out how they will assess eligible needs.
From April 2018, carers will have a right to a carer support plan. This plan should include information about your caring role and your circumstances. For example, the care you are able and willing to provide, your own wellbeing and home life, and support in the community and from the local authority.
I have been told I am eligible for support as a carer. Who will pay for it?
Your local authority must provide support to meet your eligible needs. It should do this in a way that gives you as much choice and control as you would like.
If you have eligible needs, your local authority must consider if breaks from caring should be part of the support you receive.
If you are offered support as a carer, you cannot be charged for it. Under the Social Care (Self Directed Support) Act 2013, all councils must offer self-directed support, which enables you to choose how you want your support arranged. Your local council must offer you four options:
- Option 1 – direct payment. The council gives you money so you can choose and pay directly for the services you want.
- Option 2 – individual service fund. The council allocates an amount of money to you, and uses it to pay for services on your behalf. You still choose what support you want.
- Option 3 – arranged services. You can ask the council to select, arrange and pay for services for you. You can tell them what support you want during your carer’s assessment.
- Option 4 – a combination of all three.
The person you care for – assessment of their needs
Your local council can offer the person you care for a community care assessment, sometimes called a single shared assessment (SSA). This is usually carried out by a social worker, and will consider what support the person needs to live independently, and what support it is reasonable for you to provide.
A decision on whether or not the person you care for is entitled to support is based on whether their health and wellbeing is at risk if they don’t get that support. There are four levels of risk: low, moderate, substantial and critical. If the council decides to provide help or services for the person you care for, they will offer self-directed support.
Useful contacts in Scotland
Details of local councils in Scotland are on the COSLA website
Carers Scotland: 0800 808 7777
Carers Trust Scotland: 0300 772 7701
The Scottish welfare fund offers grants to people on low income facing exceptional pressures.