I attended the Carer’s Parliament in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Overall it was a very positive experience. It was such an unusual occurrence for Carers’ attendance to be facilitated at a conference by expenses and accommodation being provided and assistance with care costs also being offered.
Ruth Wishart proved to be able and feisty in her role as compare, host and chairperson and was clearly well versed in carer issues.
She interviewed an Asian woman who had become a carer to her mother in recent times. The mother had became very ill with cancer and her daughter had went from a successful business woman with a vibrant and full life to an exhausted recluse providing daily care for her dear mum. She told of the strain on the family and her struggle to access a care package that was able to provide specialist and culturally specific care to her mum. The interview very clearly demonstrated the stark contrast between a normal happy life style and that of an unpaid family carer.
We then had a keynote address from our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon in which she readily acknowledged the value in unpaid Carers’ role to society and the discrimination and struggles often faced. She also talked about her Government’s desire to provide a better deal to Carer’s when further welfare issues are devolved to Scotland. Nicola also announced that the forthcoming Carer’s Bill will place a further statutory requirement on local authorities to provide emergency planning as well as future planning for every carer who wishes this for their family member. Politicians are often guilty of making political capital from issues like disability but for me our First Minister came across as honest and realistic in her address. The fact that our country’s political leader has consistently displayed an interest and commitment to Carer’s gave me a lift and some optimism.
We then split into workshops to produce questions for an esteemed panel on Carer’s issues. We had a top COSLA official, a government minister, a head of social worker and a lead G.P. The session was informative though perhaps a little too carefully stage managed to allow us to drill down into the issues fully.
I did my best to raise some of the issues particular to rural areas and ASD and hope that I may have contributed to improvements at some level. The imminent Carer’s Bill will surely demand more of local authorities in meeting the needs of Carer’s and in Argyll that will be a good thing.
I met some great Carer’s and one or two interesting others and it was a chance to step back from my role as a carer and reflect on some of the issues. Thank you to everyone who helped make it possible for me to attend.