Carers (Strategy)

Health and Community Care – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:16 pm on 22nd February 2007.

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Photo of Cathy Peattie Cathy Peattie Labour 2:16 pm, 22nd February 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will provide an update on the development of its strategy for carers. (S2O-12157)

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

We are taking forward work on the four agreed strategic priorities of respite for carers, young carers, carer health and carer training. We have put in place, among other things, new incentives for general practitioners to identify carers and refer them for relevant support, and carer information strategies will be put in place at health board level throughout the national health service from April.

Photo of Cathy Peattie Cathy Peattie Labour

That information is very welcome. The deputy minister will be aware that respite care is vital for carers, but its provision is patchy across the country. How is the Executive taking on board the views of carers? Will the Executive consider ring fencing funding for carers and for work around caring?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

As part of our response to the care 21 report, "The Future of Unpaid Care in Scotland", we have established a task group that is considering a number of issues around respite care. The group is pooling evidence on provision—to which Cathy Peattie referred—and demand, along with evidence of the value of respite care to carers and those for whom they care. Work is going forward in those areas.

We expect local authorities to make their own judgments about how they allocate and spend the sums that are provided to them under the usual conditions of grant-aided expenditure: that is, we do not provide the funding as a direct budget, but we tell councils the sort of sums that we are providing to them for specific purposes. In taking forward the respite strategy, it is important that local authorities work with local health boards and voluntary organisations, which often work with them in developing services in this area.

Photo of Euan Robson Euan Robson Liberal Democrat

Does the minister agree that there is a need to invest more in carers centres, especially where there are no carers centres or where the carers centres are finding it financially difficult to continue?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

Euan Robson makes a valid point. Carers centres provide a valuable part of the support that exists, and we expect local authorities to work with the voluntary sector, in particular, which is responsible for providing much of that support. Since 1999, we have quadrupled the amount of funding that we provide to local authorities to more than £20 million in support for respite care and for carers in general. We expect local authorities to include within that support for carers centres, where appropriate. Of course, we also provide funds at our own hand to voluntary organisations that are involved in providing such support.

Photo of Nanette Milne Nanette Milne Conservative

The minister will be aware that more than half of all carers are yet to receive an individual assessment of their personal needs in addition to an assessment of the needs of the person for whom they care. Can he tell me what the Executive is doing to ensure that carers receive an individual assessment of their needs?

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

That is something that we want to see. We are working with local authorities and health boards; we are encouraging them to co-ordinate provision of services and to carry out assessments on an agreed basis. We think that that offers the best way forward.