Reform Scotland

Supporting carers after bereavement – briefing note

Bill required to help bereaved carers recover, say Marie Curie, Sue Ryder and Reform Scotland

The Scottish Parliament will tonight debate a series of recommendations for major changes in the support offered to carers after the person they have cared for dies.  

The proposals – created by Marie Curie, Sue Ryder and Reform Scotland – are contained in the joint report Life After Death: supporting carers after bereavement. The trio has also put together this briefing note (see below) for tonight’s Scottish Parliament Member’s Business, led by Mark Griffin MSP.

They call for more recognition of the impact of death on the carer and the effect on the carer’s physical and mental health, their relationships, their ability to work and their finances. Specifically, they are asking all political parties to make a manifesto commitment ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election to:

  • A new Carers (Bereavement Support) (Scotland) Bill early in the next Parliament to provide information and a plan to support carers following the end of their caring role.
  • A new fund to support training and education for carers returning to work/seeking employment.
  • A new Post-Caring Support Payment, linked to the length of time caring, to help carers struggling financially following the end of their caring role.
  • To extend eligibility for the Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Allowance Supplement for up to 6 months after the person’s caring role comes to an end (from the current 8 weeks).

“It is estimated that in Scotland up to 50,000 carers are bereaved every year. But bereavement is far from the end of a carer’s journey, and indeed the challenges faced by a carer can intensify after the death of the person for whom they are caring.

“As a nation, we can go much further in offering carers help to recover once their caring role has ended. This would be invaluable not just to the bearer, but would be an investment by us all in re-integrating carers back into the workforce and back into the lives they want to lead.”

Pamela MacKenzie, Director of Scotland at Sue Ryder, which provides specialist end of life care and online bereavement support

“There needs to be a wide-ranging national conversation about rural land use and about what works and what doesn’t in the 21st century, including how best to direct taxpayers’ money in a way that benefits the environment, population and economy. This will involve some hard decisions, but these can no longer be avoided.

“We need to see a strong commitment from the Scottish Government to address the needs of carers following a bereavement. Carers have often been left to pick-up the pieces on their own, whether that is financially, emotionally or when trying to return to aspects of their former lives, like work. Far too often the system fails them and they are left behind. We need this to change.

“The impact COVID has had on bereavement this year has been significant, exacerbating grief for many, and leaving people isolated and unsure of where to turn to support. The Scottish Parliament and all political parties can send a strong message tonight that carers matter and that more will be done to give them the support they need.”

Richard Meade, Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland at Marie Curie, which supports people through terminal illness

“Carers are the often unseen, and unsung, heroes of so many people in this country. Their sacrifice is absolute, their dedication to their loved one unfaltering. Yet it is the sad reality that life after care has ended can be stressful, uncertain and gloomy. As a country, we are not doing enough to support them.

“Now is the time to put that right. We want to see all parties, ahead of next May’s election, to make a manifesto commitment to deliver our four proposals.”

Alison Payne, Research Director at Reform Scotland