Draft Strategy and planning document

1. Introduction


The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 defines a carer as “an individual who provides or intends to provide care for another individual (the ‘cared-for person’). Carers (sometimes called informal carers) are not employed to care, they do so voluntarily to support a family member or friend.

People may become carers at almost any stage in their lives, including when they are young, and may be from all walks of life. Carers may be in employment, in education, retired, or they may provide care full time. Care may be provided a few times a week or for more significant periods. Many people who provide care may not see themselves as a ‘carer’, but rather that they are providing a natural supporting role for their loved one, that may increase over time. Each carer, and their caring role, is unique. Carers report that their role can have many positive features and rewards but it is recognised that caring can have a significant impact upon a carer’s health, wellbeing and relationships.

The Act defines a “Young Carer” as a carer who is under the age of 18, or over 18 but still at school. Young carers are young people and children first, and whilst they may value and enjoy aspects of the caring role they fulfil within their families, they may experience fewer opportunities to access social, recreational or educational opportunities and may experience greater disruption and anxiety for the person they care for.

East Dunbartonshire Carers Strategy

The Carers Act requires each Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to prepare a local carer strategy and review that strategy every three years. The East Dunbartonshire HSCP brings together the Council and Health Board to jointly plan health and social care services, together with a range of stakeholder representatives, including carers.
The Carers Act sets out what a Carers Strategy needs to contain, as a minimum, so the contents of a Carers Strategy might look and feel a bit different to other strategies produced by the Health and Social Care Partnership. In essence though, the strategy is designed to set out what arrangements are in place now for carers and what the HSCP aims to put in place over the period of the strategy, through engagement with local carers themselves.

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2. Carers in East Dunbartonshire: Numbers and Trends

Scotland‘s carers make a huge contribution to the people they care for and our communities. The Scottish Government estimates that there are more people providing significant amounts of care for relatives or friends than staff working either in the NHS or in social care [ opens in a new window].

The actual number of carers is not known but it was estimated that there were 700,000 to 800,000 unpaid carers in Scotland before the COVID-19 pandemic, which equates to around 16,000 carers in East Dunbartonshire [opens in a new window].

The 2020 Scottish Health telephone survey results reported there were 839,000 adult carers living in Scotland in August – September 2020, equating to nearly 17,000 carers in East Dunbartonshire [opens in a new window]. These different sources provide very similar results on the number of people caring,which gives us increased confidence on the accuracy of the prevalence rates.

Age and gender (data based on Scottish Government prevalence rates)

The Scottish Government estimates that there are around 93,000 young carers and young adult carers in Scotland [opens in a new window] which equates to approximately 1,840 for a population the size of East Dunbartonshire.

Although people can become carers at any stage, they are most likely to be caring between the ages of 45-54. In this age group, over a quarter of all women and around a sixth of all men are carers [opens in a new window].

There are over 2,660 carers aged 16+ caring for 35 hours a week or more in East Dunbartonshire. Around a quarter of older carers (aged 65 and over) provide 35 hours of care a week or more compared with just under a tenth of carers under 24 [opens in a new window].

Overall, 59% of carers are women and 41% are men. Throughout the working years, women are more likely to be carers than men [opens in a new window]. With gender stereotypes surrounding caring still present in our society, there is a risk that women feel more pressured to undertake caring roles. This pressure can negatively impact on a woman’s career path and be a key driver of the gender pay gap.

Demographic pressures

Scotland’s population is ageing, with numbers of very old people predicted to continue growing and a proportionately smaller working age population. In East Dunbartonshire, the numbers of older people aged 85+ has increased faster than any other HSCP area in Scotland, with this fastest growth expected to continue for the next 10 years [opens in a new window]. This is a success story in terms of improved health and wellbeing and longer life expectancy, but it has significant implications for the future of care and support in Scotland.

With demand for health and social care services predicted to grow by 25% by 2031 [opens in a new window], the role and contribution of carers will be even more critical in the future.

Intensive caring and equality

29% of carers in the most deprived areas care for 35 hours a week or more – more than double the level in the least deprived areas. The impact of caring may be exacerbated by existing inequalities of low incomes and poor health in these areas [opens in a new window].

Demographic factors, culturally-held beliefs and practices, a recent history of migration and settlement, and social, economic and material disadvantage shape the demand for and supply of unpaid care in minority ethnic groups [opens in a new window].

Carers Known to Services

At the time of preparing this strategy, there were 1402 carers known to the HSCP’s Social Work Services logged within the East Dunbartonshire Carefirst Database. The number of carers known to services remains at around 8% of the estimated number of people undertaking informal care in East Dunbartonshire. This is likely in some respects to be a consequence of eligibility criteria that generally limits formal social work support to individuals at critical or substantial risk. Around 270 new carers are identified by the HSCP each year, with around 225 supported to complete an Adult Carer Support Plan. More than half of the carers known to services are over 65 years old, with the gender split almost exactly that of the nation balance at 61% being female.

Carers Link are a local voluntary organisation that offer a range of personalised supports to adult carers and young carers across East Dunbartonshire. In 2021, Carers Link provided 2042 carers with at least one form of direct support from staff & volunteers & via wide range of service supports. Each year Carers Link attracts an average of 400 new carer referrals. Since beginning, Carers Link has supported over 6,000 carers.

Young Carers Known to Services

529 carers under the age of 24 are registered with Carers Link, although not all are active cases. Notably 383 are under the age of 15. Over 14% come from the most deprived areas. 51% are contributing to the care of a sibling. 227 young carers received one-to-one or group support from the service in the last year.

At the time of preparing this strategy, there were 110 pupils with caring responsibilities known to Education Services in East Dunbartonshire. Those are all pupils whose caring responsibilities result in them receiving additional support from the school. This is only a subset of a much larger number of young carers who are not in receipt of additional support.

Increasing Demand for Health and Social Care

Most of our health and wellbeing needs will be common to most other HSCP areas, but there are particular issues for every area. It is important that we understand what our population needs and priorities are. We have recently updated our Joint Strategic Needs Assessments, which provide a detailed analysis of our population’s health and social care circumstances. The box below sets out some of the headlines from this work. These trends will inevitably impact on families and carers now and in the future.

Increasing Demand for Health and Social Care in East Dunbartonshire
  • 85+ population is increasing by 5% per year – highest in Scotland
  • Care at home and care home service demand is increasing by 5% per year (pre-Covid)
  • East Dunbartonshire has higher proportion of some long term conditions such as cancer, arthritis and coronary heart disease. This contributes to an elective hospital admissions rate around 20% higher than Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 50% higher compared with Scotland.
  • Outpatient attendance rate is around 10% higher than Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Scotland
  • Mental health in younger people is a growing area of concern with high numbers of CAMHS referrals and waiting times, and increasing prescribing for depression and anxiety for young people.
  • East Dunbartonshire has the highest rate of falls resulting in hospital admission, in Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • 8% of East Dunbartonshire adults identified at increasing risk of alcohol related harm
  • Hospital-related pressures:
    • 162% increase in Hospital Assessment Team referrals 2008-2018
    • Demand pressures and complexity increases: 40% increase in unscheduled older people care projected to 2025 (from 2018). Orthopaedics of 31%.

3.Key Policy Drivers / National Policy Context

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 was implemented on 1st April 2018 and is designed to support carers' health and wellbeing and help make caring more sustainable. The Act seeks to consolidate carers existing rights and recognises carers as equal partners. The Act includes duties for Local Authorities and Health Boards (and consequently for Health and Social Care Partnerships) to provide support to carers, based on the carer's identified needs, which meet the local eligibility criteria.

There has also been a number of important policies over recent years, which have sought to empower and develop choice for carers. Through Self Directed Support, for example, carers have greater choice and control of the services they receive and their involvement in the management of their support.

The box below sets out what we consider to be the key policy drivers over the period covered by this Carers Strategy 2023-26. This list does not include everything that the HSCP does on a daily basis; that would be a much longer list. Rather, we wanted to identify what we think would be the main drivers for change over the medium term that will affect carers and the support they receive.

Key Policy Drivers: National

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016
The Carers Charter (2016)
The National Carers Strategy 2022
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Human Rights Act 1998
A Fairer Healthier Scotland (June 2012)
Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014
National Clinical Strategy for Scotland (2016)
A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Delivery Plan (Dec 2016)
Health and Social Care Delivery Plan (Dec 2016)
The National Care Service (Scotland) Bill 2022
Healthcare Improvement Scotland: Making Care Better - Better Quality Health and Social Care for Everyone in Scotland: A strategy for supporting better care in Scotland: 2017–2022
National Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 (March 2017)
Rights, Respect and Recovery: Alcohol and Drug Treatment Strategy
National Learning Disability Strategic: The Keys to Life
Coming home: complex care needs and out of area placements 2018 The Fairer Scotland Duty (April 2018)
Best Value: revised statutory guidance 2020

A Scotland Where Everybody Thrives: Public Health Scotland’s Strategic Plan 2020–23 (Dec 2020
Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design: the framework for NHS Scotland
Framework for supporting people through Recovery and Rehabilitation during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic
Audit Scotland: Health and Social Care Integration - Update on progress (Nov 2018)
Digital Strategy for Scotland (2021)
Ministerial Strategic Group for Health and Community Care: Review of Progress with Integration of Health and Social Care (Feb 2019) Scottish Govt: Framework for Community Health and Social Care Integrated Services (Nov 2019)
The Promise: action to take forward the findings of the independent care review for care experienced children and young people (Oct 2020)
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework
The Independent Review of Adult Social Care (March 2021)
Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Supports and Services Framework (Children and Young People)
Transforming nursing, midwifery and health professions roles
Suicide Prevention Action Plan: Every Life Matters


Key Policy Drivers: Local
East Dunbartonshire HSCP Strategic Plan 2022-25 The East Dunbartonshire Local Outcome Improvement Plan (2017-27)
NHSGG&C Health and Social Care Strategy: Moving Forward Together (July 2019)
Turning the Tide through Prevention: NHSGG&C Public Health Strategy 2018-28
NHSGG&C and East Dunbartonshire Council Covid-19 Recovery and Remobilisation Plans
East Dunbartonshire HSCP Recovery and Transition Plan
NHSGG&C Board-wide strategies:
Mental Health, Learning Disability, Unscheduled Care, Health Visiting, School Nursing, District Nursing, Rehabilitation
Joint Inspection of HSCP Adult Services in East Dunbartonshire (July 2019)

4. Identification of Carers

As acknowledged above, carers do not always self-identify or associate with the term ‘carer’ and if carers do not identify as a carer, then they are unlikely to consider asking for access to carer support through the formal route, via an Adult Carers Support Plan or Young Carer Statement. Indeed, they may not know where to go to seek support or know what support may be available.

According to research [opens in a new window], many carers take years to recognise their role, missing out on crucial financial, practical and emotional support in the meantime. The research demonstrated that, by not receiving support at an early stage, the negative impacts of caring are intensified with many carers missing out on benefits and entitlements and others forced to give up work altogether, with a significant long-term effect on personal and family finances. On a personal level, a lack of practical help can have a huge impact on health and wellbeing, from long-term physical health effects such as back pain, to mental ill health and social isolation as a result of caring without a supportive network. The longer it takes to identify as a carer the more likely it is that carers will struggle without the support and advice they need.

People become carers when a family member or friend cannot manage without help because of an illness, frailty, disability or other health and wellbeing concern. The caring journey may start in a doctor’s surgery, with a nurse specialist, at a hospital outpatient clinic or at hospital discharge when the cared for person receives their diagnosis.

Key to supporting carers is identifying carers as early as possible. By identifying carers earlier, we can provide advice and/or support to ensure they remain healthy but also to help prevent a breakdown of the caring role.

In 2021/22 around 1402 carers were known to the HSCP, 2042 carers were receiving at least one form of direct support from Carers Link and 110 young carers were known to Education services. These numbers are much less than the 16,000 carers that the Scottish Government estimates live in East Dunbartonshire.

This strategy recognises the need for all organisations working in support of carers to act together to help identify more carers that live in East Dunbartonshire, so it forms one of our key strategic priorities. This support might not always require structured formal support for everyone, but it is essential that people who provide informal care know that there is advice available to them and the opportunity to have their own needs understood. The HSCP also recognises the importance of identifying and supporting carers of people from ethnic minority backgrounds, Gypsy/Travellers communities, and ensuring that carers of people with all forms of disability or other debilitating health issue are identified and supported by the right organisations.

5. Achievements and Successes

This is not the East Dunbartonshire HSCP’s first Carers Strategy. The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 requires that HSCPs prepare a local carer strategy and review that strategy every three years, so this will be our third Carers Strategy since the HSCP was created. Since that time, we have worked with partners, carers and communities to improve support to carers in many ways, including:

  • Increasing identification of adult and young carers;
  • Increasing levels of short break provision for a higher number of carers, for example in 2021/22, a total of 13384 weeks of respite was provided for 1798 cared for people (aged 18+) with an additional 188 weeks of respite provided to carers of 29 children with disabilities;
  • Training and awareness provided to health, social work, social care and education services. Over 60 session per year provided by Carers Link;
  • Continued involvement of carers in the planning of services at a strategic level through their representation on various HSCP strategic groups, most particularly through the Public Service User and Carer Group.
  • Well-developed Carer Partnership Group operating in East Dunbartonshire that was instrumental in the development of this new Strategy
  • Information provided to carers in a range of languages;
  • Around 225 carers supported to complete an Adult Carer Support Plan, each year; with around 90 Young Carer Statements completed since 2019 and 18 complete since April 2022;
  • Better information on short breaks, personalised to meet individual needs;
  • Better ways to identify and engage with young carers, with 280 young carers referred to Carers Link since April 2018;
  • Since April 2018, 140 young carers regularly attending group and holiday period activities run by Carers Link;
  • A Short Breaks Statement was developed in 2018 and will be reviewed in conjunction with this new Carers Strategy;
  • Carers continue to be encouraged to access all Self Directed Support options to maximise the level of flexibility and choice that is right for them;
  • Carers Link providing grants for carers to access Short Breaks through the Time to Live Fund. During the pandemic, this fund almost trebled to just over £34,000 with over 100 carers benefitting.
  • The HSCP’s Public, Service User and Carer representative group exists to strengthen accountability and help influence the strategic planning of services. The group has also been very active in providing information and support to carers directly, including:
    • Development of regular Covid information leaflets
    • Planning, creation and delivery of 4 short covid awareness films.
    • Leading a Power of Attorney (PoA) Awareness Campaign
    • Encouraging the participation of carers in the work of the group
  • 'Coalition of Carers - Equal, Expert and Valued' - HSCP Evaluation Report: In September 2022, the HSCP carried out an evaluation on Carers Involvement in the HSCP decision making processes and what improvements the HSCP could make to enhance this. A report was approved with recommendations for action that are currently being implemented.

6. Information and Services for Adult Carers and Young Carers

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 came into effect on 1st April 2018 and is designed to support carers’ health and wellbeing, helping them to remain in their caring roles and be able to manage their own life alongside their caring responsibilities. The Act places a number of duties on Health and Social Care Partnerships, including the following:

  • To offer an assessment of the support needs of a carer to every carer we identify or for any carer who requests one. These assessments are called “Support Plans” for adults or “Statements” for young people. These Plans/Statements are the gateway to carer support. Without completion of these we cannot determine eligibility.
  • To discuss with the carer what plans need to be put in place in circumstances where the carer may unexpectedly be unable to support the cared for person, ensuring that these emergency plans are recorded in order that they can be enacted when required.
  • To provide formal support to the Carer where their identified needs meet local Eligibility Criteria, firstly exploring informal support opportunities for example, community, personal and financial assets. The eligibility criteria provide the route to formal support to meet eligible ‘critical’ or ‘substantial’ needs for adults and include ‘moderate’ risks for young people.
  • To involve carers in service design and delivery.
  • To involve carers in the discussion and decisions regarding the support arrangements for the cared for person, managing conflict between the carer and the cared for person when disagreements regarding support arise.
  • To provide signposting: information, advice and support has to be readily available for carers. Ensure that carers are signposted to all relevant organisations.
  • To involve carers in hospital discharge arrangements for the cared for person
  • To follow national timescales for Support Plans where the cared for person is terminally ill.
  • To publish a Short Breaks Statement: this is available on the HSCP Carers’ page on East Dunbartonshire Council’s website.
  • To prepare a Carers’ Strategy.

Information and Services

Information and advice to both existing and new carers is provided from a range of resources. Some of the available services are outlined here:

Social Work Services are delivered through the Health and Social Care the Partnership. Social Work operates under wide-ranging duties to assess circumstances of people who may be in need of personal care, support and/or protection. As part of undertaking these duties to adults or children with disabilities or other health or wellbeing concerns, informal carers very often become known to Social Work. This means that Social Work is often the first point of contract for carers to access information, advice and support. Social Work can also arrange for carers to be offered Adult Carer Support Plans or Young Carer Statements that set out their support needs. The national standard is to operate within a six week period from assessment to service delivery, where services are required by carers within those timescales.

Carers Link is a local voluntary organisation established through efforts of local carers and the local authority to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for carers. They are a local organisation dedicated to all carers (from ages 5-100+). Whether due to disability, illness, addiction or general frailty, someone may need extra help for a short time or for many years. The support Carers provide might be physical or emotional, and is often both. No matter who you are or who you care for, Carers Link will support you.

The support provided is personalised to suit individual needs. Carers Link provide a range of one-to-one supports including advocacy, information, emotional support, computer training and telephone ‘check-ins’ or befriending. They also have a number of group activities for adults, whether a cup of coffee and chat at a local Carer Café of taking part in one of the wellbeing activities or training courses. Most activities are now in person, but some are also on-line for those that can’t leave the house.

Carers Link also has a dedicated support service for young carers in East Dunbartonshire, providing one-to-one support, groups and activities including fun day trips and holidays away during the summer holidays. They also have a presence in most schools providing groups and chats.

Carers Link can help to complete Adult Carer Support Plans and Young Carer Statements and liaise with Social Work and Education on the carer’s behalf. They also provide some funding for short breaks to help carers of any age to get a break, either at home or away.

Education Services are provided by the Council and can help young carers who attend school to identify their entitlement to supports available to them locally and work with young carers to review their support needs.

GP services are often the first point of contact for many carers. GPs provide access to condition specific information and advice and can signpost the carer to other support services.

The OPAL Advice Line is delivered in partnership between CAB, Carers Link and Ceartas and provides a single point of contact for all adult service users and carers (16+) living in East Dunbartonshire. The dedicated OPAL telephone line puts people in contact with a wide variety of information, advice and support services, from social and leisure activities through to voluntary sector, social work and social care support services.

Community Health Services provide a wide range of care, to support patients and carers to manage long-term conditions at home.

Post Diagnostic Support Services can provide condition-specific information, advice and support for carers following diagnosis. Post diagnostics services are provided for people diagnosed with dementia and autism.

CEARTAS provides Independent Advocacy to adults (aged 16 or over) who are normally resident in East Dunbartonshire. Independent Advocacy is independent of any other service provider, like Social Work or Health, and works on the adult’s behalf to make their voice stronger.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provides information, advice and support to adults on a variety of issues including: money and debt advice, employment rights, access to welfare benefits and support with housing issues.

East Dunbartonshire Association for Mental Health (EDAMH): offers one to one support to adults (aged 16 and over) experiencing mild to moderate mental ill health and their family and carers.

East Dunbartonshire Community Assets Map: provides an on line list of over 400 places, resources, activities and businesses in the area. Users can browse the community assets by town or by categories such as outdoor, physical exercise, health and wellbeing. Users can add their own community asset onto the map.

National Carer Support Organisations provide carer specific information, advice and support usually through web-based information and phone helplines, for example: Carers Scotland and the Scottish Young Carers Service Alliance.

Shared Care Scotland offer services including events, publications and research reports, and an online directory of short break services. As one of six National Carers Organisations they also contribute to the development of policy and best practice for carers. They also operate the Short Breaks Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, providing grants to third-sector organisations that support unpaid carers to take a break.

7. Engagement and Participation

Health and Social Care Partnerships are collaborative at heart; they include Local Authorities and Health Boards, plus representatives of service users, informal carers, professionals and clinicians, trade unions and third and independent sector service providers. When preparing any new strategy, an HSCP must ensure that all of these stakeholders and partners are fully engaged in the process and have regard to the Health and Social Care Delivery Principles [opens in a new window]. This ensures that a shared approach is taken to the planning of services to deliver the National Outcomes for Health and Wellbeing [opens in a new window] and to achieve the core aims of integration, which are:

  • To improve the quality and consistency of services for patients, carers, service users and their families;
  • To provide seamless, integrated, quality health and social care services in order to care for people in their homes, or a homely setting, where it is safe to do so; and
  • To ensure resources are used effectively and efficiently to deliver services that meet the needs of the increasing number of people with long term conditions and often complex needs, many of whom are older.

Many of these principles and outcomes described above clearly go wider than the delivery of direct support to carers, but how well care and support is provided to patients and service users impacts enormously on the well-being of family and friends that provide day to day care for them. It is essential therefore that we consider the whole system of health and social care when thinking about the needs of carers. That is why the Carers Strategy should be seen as part of a wider programme of improvement and development that is set out in the HSCP Strategic Plan 2022-25.

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges regarding participation, engagement and consultation. Whilst wishing to ensure that our engagement to develop and shape the new Carers Strategy was as robust and effective as possible, we prioritised people’s health, safety and welfare. In order to do this, the HSCP adopted a blended approach to communication, engagement and consultation that included online as well as in-person elements.

8. Consultation on the Carers Strategy

In November 2022, the HSCP Board approved the commencement of a period of consultation on the initial summary report that set out its proposed areas for priority action, supported by a Communication, Engagement and Participation Plan.

The consultation exercise commenced in November 2022 and concluded in January 2023. The general responses indicated support with the areas identified for priority development, but with quite detailed commentary on the importance of making improvements happen. It will be the work of the East Dunbartonshire Carers Partnership Group to coordinate improvement activity in support of this strategy.

Set out below is a summary of the consultative comments received:

  • The very challenging nature of caring and the difficulty in obtaining all the support to meet carers needs properly;
  • The critical importance of short breaks for carers to recharge and catch up with other things;
  • The high regard for the work of Carers Link;
  • Recognition of the support and contribution of social work;
  • The impact of the reduction of formal support levels during Covid lockdown periods, which have not fully recovered, leaving carers significantly impacted;
  • The importance of “checking in” on carer wellbeing regularly, to ensure they are coping;
  • The need for better signposting to respite services and eligibility;
  • The need for improved transition from childhood to adulthood;
  • The consequences of late cancellation of respite support is very impactful and must be avoided wherever possible;
  • The importance of carers being involved in their communities and playing a part in improving services.

9. Developing and Agreeing the Priorities

A lot of what the HSCP needs to do to support carers is already set out in national and local policy. But not all HSCP areas are the same. Different HSCP areas have different pressures and population needs. It is important that we ensure that our Carers Strategy reflects what all HSCPs need to do, but also emphasises the priorities that are right for local needs and aspirations. 

In preparing this new Carers Strategy, we needed to consider whether our existing priorities are the same or have changed. Changes might be due to new policy or legislation, they might be due to feedback from carers, they might be to take account of successful work that has been done elsewhere, or it may be due to changed circumstances. Since the last Carers Strategy, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on carers, so it will be essential to ensure that these impacts are recognised in the new strategy and plans developed to support carers through and out of the pandemic. 

The diagram below illustrates the process that we undertook. The five boxes at the top are the main influences that inform the context of the new Carers Strategy. By analysing these we were able identify what the priorities should be for us.

East Dunbartonshire HSCP Carers Strategy 2023-26: Oveview and Process 

The Context

Drivers and Influences
National and Local Policy Drivers Joint Strategic Needs Assessment Partnership, Stakeholder and Public Views and Priorities Benchmarking and Best Practice HSCP Vision and Values
Blue downwards arrow
The Key Challenges
Blue downwards arrow

The Strategy

Priorities for Improvements and Development
Blue downwards arrow

The Implementation

Carers Delivery Plan
Blue downwards arrow
Monitoring Achievement

The HSCP carried out initial work by looking at the main pressures (or “drivers”) for change and improvement. Analysis of carer numbers and circumstances has also been undertaken to ensure that the Carers Strategy identifies and reflects these local needs in the development of its priorities. We have also looked at what has been included in recent Carers Strategies elsewhere, to help to inform our own thoughts.

Crucially important, we have reviewed the expressed views of carers themselves over recent years, locally and nationally. We found that many of the issues and priorities that have been raised in the past remain really important for carers.

Evolving national policy on carer support and the development of the National Care Service are rapidly developing agendas at the time of writing. This makes it a bit more difficult to predict what the landscape will be like over the period of the strategy and how this may change the action plans and resources available to implement the agreed priorities. As it stands, we have to make plans based upon what we know and what finance has been made available to the HSCP at the time of writing the Carers Strategy. However, if the Scottish Government makes available additional resources to support carers, then this can then be targeted towards accelerating the priorities set out in our local Carers Strategy, which makes it all the more important to get it right.

10. Carers Strategy Priorities and Delivery Plan 2023-26

After analysing the main policy drivers, the local needs analysis, the priority work being progressed elsewhere and taking into account feedback from the initial consultation survey, we think that the priorities for development and improvement over the next few years should be those set out below. Specific actions associated with these priorities are also set out:


Priority 1 - Better information and advice on formal and informal supports

We are keen to make it easier for people to recognise themselves as carers and to access support and advice. Effective carer involvement means empowering carers with information about their rights. This is an important first step to ensuring an unpaid carer can access support, including any social security benefits to which they be entitled. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Developing and publicising suggested pathways for all carers, as a means of navigating services. We commenced this work recently with a published Transition Pathway Bookle
  •  Further developing clear and Easy Read Information on a range of relevant Carer related resources such as access to Self Directed Support options, Carer Support Options, Eligibility and Caring Choices, and making it widely available across the community
  • Developing a directory of Carers Support Options and making this available via Social Work and Carers Link
  • Continuing to work with partner agencies such as Take Control East Dunbartonshire, to support and improve carers understanding of Self-Directed Support including, the options this makes available to them and how each will work for them


Priority 2 - Better and earlier identification of carers
By helping people to self-identify as an unpaid carer or raising awareness so that others can recognise that they are providing care, we can open up access to information and other forms of support. As part of this, Health and Social Care professionals, as well as professionals in other sectors such as schools and further education, need to be aware of unpaid care to help people to access appropriate support. We aim to achieve this by:
  • Providing mechanisms to enable Carers Link to develop a regular e-bulletin for statutory/health partners, delivering key information via an internal system
  • Establishing closer partnership working arrangements with Health and Social Care professionals, as well as professionals in other sectors such as schools and further education, to raise awareness of unpaid care and the process to help people to access appropriate support
  • Developing closer links with GPs via the review and development of engagement strategies and referral processes, to help identify carers at the earliest opportunity
  • Supporting the delivery of Carers Link recently commissioned ‘Awareness Raising Campaign’ and publicising this via social media and website channels. Raising the profile of unpaid care will help people to understand what it involves and what it means for a person who is an unpaid carer
  • Continuing the implementation of Carer awareness guidance and training for all (public officers) members of the IJB, SMT, SPG and LPGs and staff as appropriate


Priority 3 - Carers should be involved in planning for their support and that of the cared for person, including hospital discharge

There are already a range of duties on public bodies to ensure that carers are involved in decisions that affect them and those they care for. We will work in partnership with public bodies to make sure that carers are always involved in decisions that affect them and their loved one, and that they are involved at the right times. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Exploring the feasibility of improved digital engagement via the use of digital apps, online support plans etc
  • Promoting the use of Advocacy via Carers Link
  • Progressing the Getting It Right for Everyone (GIRFE) practice model in line with National development, to embed greater joint working and the involvement of people in decisions that affect them
  • Considering the development of an HSCP wide initiative aligned with the ‘Discharge Without Delay Programme’, that will improve pathways through hospital settings and ensure continued engagement and involvement with carers at the point of hospital discharge
  • Carrying out benchmarking locally to identify any best practice models of support across other HSCPs
Priority 4 - Carers should be supported to continue to care, building on their strengths and assets

Unpaid carers are a diverse range of people covering all parts of society. We want to understand and value carers' skills and insights to ensure that support for both them and the cared-for person is as good as it can be. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Embedding Self Directed Support as the default approach to working with all carers
  • Actively undertaking emergency planning with all carers in the development of the support plan
  •  Improving opportunities for carers to share information via peer support systems and encouraging informal representation /involvement in community forums such as ECHO (Every Carer has Opinions), Carer Café’s etc
  • • Improving processes that support the identification of young carers to ensure they can get the same opportunities as their peers for example school trips, parties etc, with the arrangement of replacement care


Priority 5 - The choice of support available should be increased to enable Carers to have a balance with life outside of caring

It is vital that carers are able to take breaks from their caring responsibilities, especially for the mental health benefits they provide and the opportunity for people to recharge their batteries. We will ensure that every carer who needs that support has a right to breaks from caring and is able to make use of these rights on a consistent basis in a way that suits them and the person for whom they care. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Continuing to deliver on our Short Break Statement, to ensure carers understand their right to a break and the breaks available in their area
  • Exploring with Strategic Commissioning colleagues, opportunities to broaden the scope of short break support by developing innovative approaches such as the development of a Short Breaks Bureau, respitality and local test of change projects
  • Continuing to work with Strategic Commissioning colleagues, Shared Care Scotland and other agencies to promote greater availability and choice of short break support in different areas


Priority 6 - Adult Carer Support Plans and Young Carer Statements uptake should be increased

The Carers Act is fundamental to carers' rights. It provides for each carer's right to a personalised plan to identify what is important to them. This should take account of their caring situation, their willingness and ability to care, and aspirations for work or study. Every caring situation is unique. Carers' individual needs and the impact of caring depend on all sorts of factors such as their age, health and ethnicity, and their support networks of family and friends. We want to put in place a system of carers' rights designed to listen to carers, improve consistency of support and prevent problems – helping sustain caring relationships and protect carers' health and wellbeing. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Supporting local carer partnerships such as Carers Link by providing any additional funding available to maximise support and opportunities and ensure that carers, particularly young carers, have access to information on what their rights are, as a person but also as a carer
  • Revisiting and promoting the completion of Young Carer Statements with Children’s Education and Health Professionals
  • Improving links between Health and Social Care Services and Education Services, particularly in support of young carers
  • Developing online systems to support the electronic updating of Young Carer Statements and Adult Carer Support Plans


Priority 7 - Carers health and wellbeing should be prioritised The

The demands of caring can have a negative effect on carers' mental health, particularly where the carer is unable to find an appropriate balance between the care they provide and other parts of their life. We want to take a strategic approach to improving the conditions that can give rise to this. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Engaging with third sector partners to grow individual wellbeing support options such as bereavement support, seasons for growth, suicide prevention and trauma informed practice
  • Providing additional support to Carers to access resources such as the National Well Being Hub and EDC Assets Map, via carer-aware Health Professionals, Children’s Services, Education Colleagues and Multi-Disciplinary Teams
  • Considering what further resources and signposting of support may be needed to support carers' mental health and wellbeing
  • Promoting learning resources that increase the awareness and knowledge of suicide prevention and intervention amongst statutory, third sector health and social care professionals and carers
  • Pursuing with Council Boards, the possibility of providing adult and young carers with Carer ID Cards that enable access to free EDC leisure activities, increasing opportunities for carers to have a short break and providing financial assistance during the cost of living crisis


Priority 8 - The impact of financial hardship and inequality should be recognised

For many people who provide unpaid care it is fulfilling and meaningful. However, without proper support, the demands of some caring situations can have a negative effect on a carer's life. People can find themselves worse off financially if, for example, they are unable to work full-time because of their caring responsibilities. We want to ensure that carers can balance their caring responsibilities with the ability to work, attend education and have a meaningful quality of life beyond caring. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Encouraging uptake within schools of the Young Scot Young Carers Card (11+) and the Young Carers Grant (16-18)
  • Continuing to direct funds towards providing individual distribution of financial support during emergencies to adult and young carers
  • Engaging with Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action (EDVA) and Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) to increase the support available around finance and the introduction of the Scottish Carers Assistance payment to provide extra support for carers who are eligible
  • Helping unpaid carers to access support to which they might be eligible via the Scottish Government 'cost of living' website. Through the Cost of Living Support Scotland website [opens in a new window], people will be able to find out what support may be available depending on their own personal circumstances


Priority 9 - Earlier engagement and prevention of crisis should be prioritised

We want to strike a better balance between early intervention and crisis responses. Prevention will be prioritised, and we want to ensure that carers have choice and control and can access preventative support to keep caring situations manageable. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Developing a ‘triangle of support’ that promotes and encourages the use of preventative, lower level support available through Carers Link or other community provision
  • Actively undertaking emergency planning with all carers in the development of the support plan
  • Committing to the review of current eligibility criteria in line with National Development, to ensure it is outcome focused and inclusive
  • Committing to the review and update of related support strategies such as Dementia, Autism and Learning Disability Strategies, supported by existing partnership forums
  • Strengthening the implementation of Self-Directed Support (SDS) and improving prevention and early intervention


Priority 10 - Carer-friendly communities should be promoted

We want to foster a profound culture shift to make caring visible, valued and supported by a connected approach across communities and systems. We want to help people access fair work and achieve their potential in an inclusive and fair economy. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Continuing to improve public awareness and carer friendly communities by developing Awareness Raising Campaigns to raise the profile of unpaid care within communities to help people to understand what it involves and what it means for a person who is unpaid carer
  • Working closely with Skills for Life Learning and Work and Skills Development Scotland to promote Carer Positive employer accreditation schemes by encouraging employers to be more supportive and flexible to support unpaid carers, through a Carer Positive scheme, which may include ensuring that sick pay and staffing practices support public health aims, and enabling hybrid working where that makes sense
  • Exploring options to endorse and establish the East Dunbartonshire HSCP Compassionate Communities Approach
  • Promoting the use of ‘Equal Partners in Care’ e-learning resources for all Health & Social Care staff


Priority 11 - Carers should be involved in the planning of new services and supports

Under the current social care system, carer representatives must be included in both the governance structures of integration authorities and their strategic planning groups for health and social care strategies. This ensures carers have a voice and can influence decisions made at strategic level, including decisions about service planning and design. We want to continue to work with partners and people with lived and living experience to make sure that our social care services work for everyone, including ensuring support for carers becomes more accessible and consistent. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Promoting access to and membership of the Public, Service User & Carer Representative Group to increase the involvement of carers in decision making
  • Ensuring views from carers are captured and shared to influence decisions made, including proactive and responsive feedback and the contributions of the Public, Service User & Carer Representative Group
  • Developing more refined ways of measuring how good the experiences and outcomes are for carers
  • Agreeing key statistical reports that will allow future tracking and forensic analysis of carer data, including unmet need, engagement rates and satisfaction


Priority 12 - The impact of the pandemic for carers should be recognised and prioritised

We know the COVID-19 pandemic had and continues to have a significant effect on unpaid carers. We know that people may need to make a significant change in how they assess their own level of risk. This shift may take more time and be more difficult for some people than others. As we move into the new phase of living with COVID-19, we want to support carers to rebuild confidence and feel safe to re-engage with wider communities and services. We aim to achieve this by:

  • Continuing to involve carers and carer organisations in our work in living with COVID-19, including making sure they have the most current advice, and that the advice takes account of the particular needs of unpaid carers
  • Re-engaging with our community, providing reassurance and support to rebuild confidence and re-evaluate carer options
  • Recognising the impact of bereavement on carers and considering how we can provide opportunities to commemorate and reflect, for example developing a memorial space
  • Promoting and encouraging access to wider services for support such as counselling via Carers Link

11. What Happens Next?

The priorities for improvement and development set out above will provide the strategic framework for advancing carer support over the next 3 years. East Dunbartonshire Carers Partnership Group which has representation from social work, health, Carers Link, education, and carers themselves, will be tasked with taking these priorities and actions forward. Progress will be reported through the HSCP’s Public Service User and Carer Group and Strategic Planning Group. Cognisance will be taken each year to overarching Scottish Government policy and financial frameworks.

12. Acknowledgements

The Health & Social Care Partnership would like to thank all of the carers who have given their time over recent years to attend meetings and events and to those who have shared their experiences, and offered their expertise.

In particular, we would like to thank those who have participated directly to the work of the HSCP and the Carers Partnership Group.

We would also like to thank all of our statutory and voluntary partners for their commitment and support to the implementation of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 within East Dunbartonshire.

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