If you are a parent of a child with additional support needs you may be eligible for support in your caring role. Here, Paul Traynor from the Carers Trust Scotland explains a bit more about your legal rights to support and the advice, information and support Carers Trust Scotland can offer.
Am I a carer?
Many parents of children with additional support needs don’t see themselves as carers. We define a carer as anyone who provides unpaid care for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, cannot cope without your support.
For many carers, caring can be a positive and rewarding experience. However there are lots of reasons why caring can leave you needing help, including:
- Physical exhaustion – you might be getting up several times in the night as well as caring throughout the day.
- Emotional exhaustion – particularly if you are caring for a child who has complex needs or is unwell.
- Juggling caring with looking after the rest of your family and holding down a job.
- Financial – being unable to work may lead to a reduction in your family’s income.
- Feeling stressed or depressed because of caring responsibilities.
- Isolation – not being able to get out of the house when you need or want to.
- Breakdown of relationships with a partner or other family members.
Your rights to support
In Scotland, the Carers (Scotland) Act places certain duties on local authorities to support carers. Below are a few important points to note:
- If you think you need help to manage your caring responsibilities you can ask your local authority for an Adult Carer Support Plan. The review is free and your local authority will use it to decide what support to give you. The review is usually a face-to-face meeting with someone from your local authority, or from another organisation on behalf of your local authority. An Adult Carer Support Plan will not focus on the amount or frequency of the care you provide, rather the impact on you that your caring role has.
- Local authorities have set criteria to help them decide when carers should receive support. When carers are assessed as meeting these criteria, the local authority must provide support to meet their needs.
- Local authorities may provide support to carers who do not meet the eligibility criteria, but there is not a duty to do so.
- The review should also consider whether you require short breaks and if so, a range of breaks should be available.
- You should be involved in the planning and development of services for the person you provide care for. Specifically, you must be involved in hospital discharge planning for the person you care for.
Some carers may be eligible for extra benefits due to their caring responsibilities including Carers Allowance. Find out more about who can apply here.
The Carers Trust Scotland website has lots of advice and information on subjects such as:
- Money and benefits.
- Getting a break.
- Health and well-being.
- Getting out and about.
- Work and learning.
- Getting a carers assessment.
Young carers rights
Under the Carers (Scotland) Act, young carers also have the right to support. A young carer is anyone aged under the age of 18 (or 18 and still at school).
Young carers also have the right to a Young Carers Statement. The Scottish Government has developed a new package of benefits and support for young carers in Scotland – which includes a new Young Carer Grant. Find out more about all of this on Young Scot website.
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Read our blog about what helps young carers at school.