Heather explores what the regulations underpinning the Carers (Scotland) Act will mean in practice.
With just under six months to go until the implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act, the technical and practical details of the legislation are currently being hammered out in guidance and regulations. Over the summer, a consultation was held on draft regulations around review of adult carer support plans and young carer statements, and the content of short breaks statements. There was also a call for views on whether regulations or statutory guidance should be used to specify the form of support that may be provided as a break from caring.
It might not be the most interesting of topics, but it’s extremely important to make sure that the legislation is as strong as it can be before the implementation date. When Carers Trust Scotland and the other national carer organisations consulted with carers about these draft regulations, it was clear that uncertainties about the nature and extent of carer support are at risk of being carried forward under the new legislation, despite the focus on early, preventative support and identification of more carers at an earlier stage in the caring journey.
Wariness about reviews of support provided to carers or the people they look after stem from instances of poor provision that does not always meet their needs or outcomes, where ‘review of support’ often means ‘reduction of services’. The person-centred approach of the Carers Act aims to combat this, but actions speak louder than draft regulations and it will take time and sustained effort for some carers and their families to approach support planning and reviews with confidence.
Involvement of carers in hospital discharge is one of the major new duties on health and social care partnerships introduced by the Act. Recognising that carers are often the last to know when the person they look after is discharged from hospital, even when their need for care and support might have increased, the legislation specifies that carers must be involved in the process, as early as possible. Carers we consulted with were clear that if the cared-for person’s needs and requirements have changed following an admission to hospital, their own support to help them provide care must be reviewed also. It’s not the easiest of issues to regulate for, but as we know that delayed discharge or failed discharge is problematic for everyone involved, it’s important to recognise the value of unpaid carers in the process.
Regulations and guidance are only one small piece of the puzzle for carers, and as we move further towards implementation, the role of carer support services within all provisions of the Carers (Scotland) Act is vital for the legislation to succeed. Carers Trust Scotland will continue to support carers’ centres and work in partnership with statutory and non-statutory bodies ensuring that local provision is consistent, appropriate and beneficial for unpaid carers, whose contribution cannot be taken for granted.