Introduction The Carers (Scotland) Act (2016) places a duty on local authorities to prepare an Adult Carer Support Plan (ACSP) and Young Carer Statement for any carer who requests one, or is identified as such. From 2019, this will be assisted by a fast track process for carers of people in their last six months of life. Timely identification of unpaid carers, assessment and support can; reduce the overwhelming pressure of caregiving, increase competence, confidence, satisfaction and the quality of the care given.
Aim To provide evidence on the supportive needs of carers to inform recommendations regarding the timescale for the creation of fast tracked ACSPs under the Carers (Scotland) Act (2016).
Methods The study triangulated data from a literature review, qualitative secondary analysis (n=19 interviews; three focus groups) and two primary focus groups with bereaved carers (n=11).
Results Themes included; barriers to and triggers for identification and needs including physical support, psychological support, respite, information, communication, co-ordination and competing demands. Additional themes were speed of decline and end of life care.
Conclusion Health and social care professionals need to take a radical, reactive move to presume that every patient has a carer, and ensure they understand their entitlements. Carer identification is everyone’s responsibility and it should be the ambition of the Carer (Scotland) Act (2016) that this happens early in the illness trajectory. In so doing, rapid assessment and support can be initiated to help carers navigate and cope with an uncertain, often rapidly deteriorating illness trajectory.
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