Carers issues feature in leaders debate for a second time

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg

The Liberal Democrats plan to give a week of respite to those who care for 50 hours or more per week

Watching the Leaders’ Debate on Sky News last night, the needs of carers again featured strongly – as well as issues which impact on carers’ lives like pensions which obviously effect the financial well being of older carers.

And again respite breaks were discussed. We’re all aware that having a break from caring is one of the key needs expressed by Scotland’s unpaid carers. Indeed it is a key recommendation in Care 21.

As a carer myself, I appreciate the need to ‘get away’ from caring – that might mean having a couple of hours of ‘me time’ with a friend, being at the hairdressers – it doesn’t always mean having a week away – or indeed the person you care for having time away from the home environment.

A short break can be so many things – something which I think political parties have missed in the ongoing debate around carers as we move towards this exciting General Election.

There is still a real need – and gap – in terms of social services and other key professionals involving carers in planning services for those they care for. For carers, a Carers’ Assessment does not always lead to them getting the support they need, at the time they need it – and that includes having access to a short break. A break can range from simply being able to leave the house to do things which others take for granted, right through to a full holiday.

The needs of unpaid carers are featuring in this election – and leaders are listening. We welcome developments such as the commitment by the Liberal Democrats to give a week of respite to those who care for 50 hours or more per week.

But my plea to Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, David Cameron – and Alex Salmond – is please listen harder. Work with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, with the network of Carers’ Centres and organisations such as Shared Care Scotland to create and develop new and responsive opportunities to have a break from caring – with carers as equal partners in this process.

And above all, please keep asking questions of your local candidates – find out where they stand on these issues. The voice of carers needs to be loud and clear.

Take care,



April 23, 2010 - Posted by | General Election | , , , , ,


  1. I was in the audience on Question Time last night hoping to ask a question about carers but alas didn’t get the opportunity. David Cameron is grossly underestimating the value of carers contributions which is £87 billion not £50 billion. I agree with you Lynn that it is about listening to carers and asking them what would make a difference to their lives rather than prescribing a week’s break if you care for over 50 hours – which in any case is a drop in the ocean when you will probably be on your knees with exhaustion – or worse.

    Comment by Jill Pay | April 23, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi Jill

    Great to hear from you – and have to say that I am incredibly jealous that you got to be in the audience.

    There is alot of talk about carers in this election – and that is good. We are delighted that carers have become an election issue – but listening is not the same as implementing real change for carers. I am a carer myself and so far have not had to use social services very much – but speaking to carers and our network of Centres across the country the real issue is that social services and other professionals don’t listen to what carers are saying about their needs. A weeks respite is not enough – and in many cases it may not be what is actually needed to give a carer a break away from their caring role.

    Have you contacted your local candidates? What are they saying?

    Thank you for taking the time to comment Jill.

    Take care

    Comment by Lynn Williams | April 23, 2010 | Reply

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