Podcast Episode: ISBA 2016: Caring in Scotland - Aileen Campbell
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
DM - Donald Macleod
AC - Aileen Campbell
DM Now if we are to make progress then it is absolutely critical that our sector has a positive relationship with our Government. Good legislation and policy is key to creating the conditions that are needed that will help us to develop the best provision that we can. I think in Scotland we are really fortunate in that we have a Government and we have a Parliament that goes to great lengths to be as open and as accessible as it can so that people really feel that they have the opportunity to engage directly with the key decisions that will affect their lives and there is a lot happening in Scotland at the moment concerning new Laws that will help to strengthen the support available to unpaid carers and to people that they care for. So to tell us more about these developments, I’m really pleased to welcome to the stage our Minister for Public Health and Support, Aileen Campbell.
AC Good Morning delegates, thank you Donald for your inspiring opening remarks and Dawn for your eloquent overview of the ISBA journey. Good morning delegates and a warm welcome to bonny Scotland and our beautiful Capital City of Edinburgh and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to open the 10th ISBA Conference and to welcome delegates from around the World to discuss, to consider and shape and enhance Carers Policy and in particular short breaks and despite the differences that we have regarding language, culture, political systems, weather, what unites us and transcends National and Geographic boundaries is a shared desire to do our upmost to support our respective Nations Carers.
Carers do a phenomenal amount of selfless work, caring for their loved ones and Society owes them a great depth of gratitude and so it’s right that we bring our collective wisdom, our ideas and innovation together to work out how we can learn from one another and improve our policies to support Carers in their role. Of course each of our Countries will have its own context and its own interpretation, for instance some Countries here will provide short breaks for disabled children only or for adults with complex needs. For us here in Scotland unpaid carers are both adults and young people who care for both children and adults who have complex needs, who are frail or have disabilities, moreover, the person they care for could also have drug or alcohol dependency issues or mental health issues that they have to grapple with.
Today offers us all a collective chance to understand common issues, unlock new approaches and to imbed the principal that we all share which is to place the carers and cared for people at the heart of all we do. That sense of humanity which unites us and in celebration of your 10th Conference here in Edinburgh is very apt. Because this City in which we gather is the home of the Scottish Enlightening of the 18th Century which asserted the fundamental importance and optimistic belief in the ability of humanity to affect changes for the better in society and nature guided by reason. The change that you all affect in your Countries make life and society better and for us as Politicians it’s our role to be guided appropriately to do what we can to help. So today I want to use my time to reflect on Scotland’s journey so far in the wider area of Carers Policy and short breaks and also our aspiration and future ambitions.
Caring can be positive and rewarding, equally the time spent the caring is increasing and it is often more intensive. We also know that caring can affect carer’s physical and mental health. In Scotland near half of carers have long term illnesses and conditions themselves and while it is absolutely positive that people are living longer, healthier lives it does mean there are older, frail carers and it’s a social policy challenge that we need to respond to. We need to support carers to protect their own health and wellbeing and there is a strong human rights rational for doing so. Moreover there is a strong economic driver because supporting carer’s results in savings to Health and Social Care Services and means less chance of carer health and problems are break down. It is also delegates simply the right thing to do. That support can take the form of bespoke support for carers, short breaks and training are just 2 examples but there is also a wider dimension.
In Scotland our emphasis is on building a fairer Country and a strong sustainable economy. We want to tackle inequalities and we are determined to deliver strong public services along with Communities and our on-going work to transform primary care including General Practitioner Services, reducing mental health illnesses, tackling the key public health behaviour challenges and increased activity are all important developments which will support carers are citizens. The emphasis on carer income is also incredibly important. This is especially so since the cost of caring can be high, especially if carers of working age leave employment or reduce their hours of work. Our wider employment initiatives are complemented by carer positive where we recognise employers that support carers and with the advent of new powers coming to Scotland we will also reform Social Security. We are working with people across Scotland to determine how best to use the new Social Security powers which will be devolved to Scotland. Eligible carers in Scotland currently receive a Carers Allowance and in Scotland we will be increasing the level of this when we have the powers to do so.
In Scotland we are also driving forward the integration of health and social care bringing together the National Health Service with local Council care services under local partnership arrangements. Integration means better, more joined up and responsive services. There are nationally agreed outcomes which apply across Health and Social Care. Partnerships much strengthen the role of Clinicians and Care Professionals along with the Voluntary and Independent Sectors in the planning and delivery of services and crucially carers are represented on the local Planning Boards and are central to the decision making processes. We are also implementing self-directed support allowing people to choose how their support is provided giving them as much control as they want of their individual budget and this is as important to carers as to the people that they care for. This is again a significant in the process of empowering individuals to have a greater sense of control of their lives. It’s a departure from previous models where people were told what was happening to them or what was to be done to them as our former Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns described, “moving from being passive recipients of care to being active agents of change in their own lives.
With regard to short breaks the Scottish Government has a long recognised importance of supporting unpaid carers including through the provision of short breaks and we believe in the importance of flexible, personalised short break provision leading to better outcomes for carers and the people that they care for. We have invested in the innovative Voluntary Sector short break fund which is administered by Shared Care Scotland and the family fund and in these challenging financial times this is important investment but the development of new creative and innovative approaches is as equally important and I’m delighted the work being done in Scotland is being recognised by ISBA. For example, here in Scotland Short Breaks Bureau have been established in some areas to manage and coordinate short break provision and these are working more strategically and continue to evolve as Health and Social Care Partners work closer together.
The short breaks fund has achieved some wonderful outcomes for carers and I know that from my own Constituency, for example, Covey Befriending in Hamilton and Lanark who are a long standing part of the Community provide weekly groups and facilitated friendships for young people aged 14-19 with additional support needs. They can gain confidence and learn new skills, cooking, gardening, arts and crafts as well as going on visits to places of interest around the local area. The young people’s parent carers are also supported and are encouraged to participate in social activities or relax with mindfulness classes or aromatherapy sessions and this provides very important time out from the day to day responsibilities that they have as carers and that’s just one example and there are of course so many more and different models designed to suite the different needs of carers and those who are cared for. These types of services can be transformational, strengthening relationships, building confidence and for carers own health and wellbeing these breaks can be crucial and I’m especially proud that the Scottish Government has also been able to support the Annual Young Carers Festival for 9 years. This enables around 600 young carers from across the Country to enjoy some much needed leisure time, have a break with other young carers and build new friendships along the way. It also provides a platform for young carers to speak directly with Government Ministers and other decision makers and Respitality pilot initiative that Dawn mentioned is forge a new working relationships between Local Carer Centres and the Hospitality Industry, Hotels, Guest Houses and so on for short break provision.
As Minister for Public Health and Sport I have heard directly from directly from Carers and National Care Organisations about what needs to be done to further improve the availability and the choice of short breaks and I know that more needs to be done and that we still have great challenges to overcome. Local Authorities, Health Boards, the Voluntary Sector and other key interests including carers must use their combined resources and expertise in creative ways to plan for the development of better short break provision. For example some of our Health Boards have established links with local Mental Health and Dementia Charities to ensure carers have better information and access to their short breaks fund and this is also contributing towards better identification of carers and in Shetland a more rural Island area the Health Board and Council are working together to develop the use of assistive technology and telecare that can support carers by reducing some of their responsibility, allowing them to feel more confident in taking a short break knowing that the person they care for is safe.
Our most recent initiative in the Country is the introduction of new legislation. The Carers Scotland Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament earlier this year and will be commenced on 1st April 2018 and it’s my privilege as the new Minister in charge of this policy that I will get the chance to work on its implementation. The Act provisions will strengthen and enhance the rights of carers and will contribute towards the improvement of their health and wellbeing, ensuring that they can continue to care if they so wish and to have a life alongside caring. Better carer identification, improved and more consistent support for carers and carer involvement are the key themes of the Act. But let me focus a moment on the provisions that relate, specifically to short breaks. There is now a duty on Local Authorities so that in determining which support to provide for carers, they must consider, in particular, whether the support should take the form of a break from caring. Each of our Local Authorities must also prepare and publish a short break services statement. We envisage that this statement will include information about the choice of short breaks available to meet the needs of carers in their local area. The types of short breaks provision may change from area to area to reflect local demographics and local needs but the important thing here is that cares are better informed and able to make a choice about the services that will best suit their needs and their own personal outcomes. Whether directly or indirectly linked to short breaks this conference provides a fantastic opportunity to build a wealth of knowledge, good practice and research from a dynamic range of experiences that can be shared. For me this week is also about unlocking our potential as decision makers having that opportunity to consider new approaches, not only for the short to medium term but to build upon each conference and to evaluate the progress that can be made and achieved in the longer term.
In Scotland as we move forward with the implementation of new Legislation and consideration of new Policies it will be of great interest to learn about the development and the evolution of short break provision from this and future ISBA Conferences. So in closing and to finally conclude I would like to congratulate Shared Care Scotland and all the ISBA committee for their tireless efforts in developing and managing this conference. I know it’s been a huge undertaking and I want to offer congratulations on its success and thank you to everyone who is here today for your dedication and the difference you are making to people’s lives in each of the Countries that is represented here around the World. I look forward to hearing the outcomes of the discussions and the deliberations and hope that you enjoy your stay here in Edinburgh and as we say here in Scotland, “Haste Ye Back”. So thank you for your time and your consideration and also for you work and I look forward to working with you hopefully in the years to come so thank you and have a good time here in Scotland. Thank you.
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