Am I a carer?
A carer is anyone who looks after a friend, family member or neighbour due to old age, physical or mental illness, disability, or an addiction (this does not include paid care workers or those who are volunteering).
The number of unpaid carers in Scotland is not known but it was estimated that there were around 700,000 to 800,000 before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Research from Carers UK suggests that number might now be over a million.
'Looking after’ can mean helping with things like shopping, domestic tasks, emotional assistance and personal care - all of which are much more difficult during coronavirus.
If this sounds like you, you may be a carer.
When you’re caring for someone, it can feel like there’s no time for you.
But your health and wellbeing are just as important as anyone else’s. And support is available for you.
After all, you can only look after someone else if you look after yourself too.
If this sounds like you, contact us online or phone 0800 011 3200 to find out about support available. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Help for carers
Carers Scotland Act
If you’re caring for someone in Scotland, lots of support is available. Much of this is provided under the Carers Act.
The Scottish Government's Carers’ charter tells you more about your rights under the Act and there are a range of organisations on hand to give you any information or support you may need.
Your local council or carers centre are great places to start. They will work with you to create your own personalised plan (called an adult carer support plan), focusing on what’s most important to you.
If your needs for support, as detailed in your plan, meet the local eligibility criteria in your area, you will be entitled to support to meet those needs. Even if you don’t meet the criteria, many areas have support open to all carers.
There are similar plans for young carers called young carer statements.
Local carer centres
Your local carer centre can also help you with information and advice about your rights and what other support is available, both nationally and in your local area.
Due to coronavirus, centres have had to make some adjustments in how they support you. So, most help is available online and over the phone. Some centres are even doing doorstop visits or prescription drop-offs.
Many centres usually have peer support groups where you can connect with other carers, or take part in social activities or training to further develop your skills. You can learn more and find your local carer centre at Care Information Scotland. You’ll also find more helpful links in the “Find out more” section below.
If you’re a carer, you may qualify for financial assistance like Carer’s Allowance or the Young Carer Grant.
You may also know someone or have a family member that is a young carer. A young carer is someone under the age of 18, or 18 and still at school, who provides care for someone else.
Young carers also have rights under the Carers Act and they can request their young carer statement from their local young carer service or local council.
You can find your local young carer service at Care Information Scotland.
Young carers aged 11-18 can also access amazing freebies and opportunities through Young Scot’s young carer package. It’s free and easy to sign up for.
COVID-19 advice for carers
Scottish Government advice for unpaid carers during the coronavirus pandemic covers aspects including staying safe (and how some of the coronavirus restrictions apply differently to carers), PPE and testing, short breaks from caring and mental health and wellbeing.
How to access your support can be summed up in 4 easy-to-follow steps:
- Step 1: Contact us to tell us a bit more about your situation
- Step 2: We’ll provide you with information about what support is available in your area and direct you to the specific contact details you need
- Step 3: Get in touch with your local service provider
- Step 4: They’ll help you/sign you up for the best support for you.
To make Step 1 as convenient as possible, please see the contact details below:
- Online - Care Information Scotland where you can take part in a webchat
- Phone - Contact Care Information Scotland by phone on 0800 011 3200 - lines are open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
You can learn more about how other carers have benefitted from some support in the video below, where we meet Jill and hear about her experience of caring for her two sons.
Find out more
For more details on support available for carers in Scotland, visit Care Information Scotland. You’ll find more about caring, even if you’re new to it, plus links to other organisations, such as your local council and national and local carers charities.
See the links below for other useful information, including:
Support organisation resources
If you’re an organisation with an interest in supporting carers, we’d love your help in spreading the word about the help available. In this section you’ll find downloadable links for all the assets used in the campaign, as well as a stakeholder toolkit with all the information you’ll need.
Download the toolkit
Download the Carers' Wellbeing Stakeholder toolkit (856KB).