Scheme holds out a helping hand

Carers play a vital role
Carers play a vital role

A new strategy to help those looking after loved ones has been given the thumbs up by one carer.

Allyson Black is a business owner, Labour councillor and a carer - looking after her 24-year-old son who has autism.

She thinks the new Forth Valley Integrated Carers Strategy provides better support than there has ever been for those caring for relatives.

The initiative links Falkirk, Alloa and Stirling councils with NHS Forth Valley and organisations including the Falkirk and District Association for Mental Health, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Alzheimer’s Scotland and aims to identify and support carers.

The framework provides more respite for carers and helps NHS workers identify carers and refer them on for support. It also allows more work to be done in schools to provide help for young carers and ensure they have a life outside of caring.

Councillor Black, who represents the Grangemouth ward, said carers need all the support they can get.

“One in eight people in Scotland is a carer, with 21,929 of them in the Falkirk area alone.

“That is an incredible figure, and if these carers suddenly decided they didn’t want to look after their family member or friend, the bill for the NHS and the council would be astronomical.

“Carers provide a service for those that need extra support - but many don’t get enough support of their own and this strategy should help.”

Health groups and schools are now working together to identify carers and ensure they get the support they are entitled to.

Allyson continued: “Identifying carers can be part of the problem. Many people think it is their duty as a wife, husband, mother or daughter to care for relatives and so don’t come forward.

“There is help available and support and I think the new strategy is the most comprehensive there has been although, of course, it can be improved upon. Sadly that comes down to budget and, at a time when the pubic sector and charities are having to cut back, this just isn’t going to happen.

“Caring for someone isn’t easy, it’s constant - seven days a week, 24 hours a day - and even when you are not caring for them, you are still thinking about them and worrying.

“The toll, emotionally, is huge and add that to the fact that many struggle financially, maybe having to reduce their working hours or give up work all together, it’s little wonder many struggle to cope.

“While this new strategy isn’t perfect, as a carer and a councillor, I think it’s impressive and should help some of the most vulnerable in our community.”