Caring for older people in a homely setting or close to home is an ambition shared by all politicians and people alike.
But to ensure that this ambition is realised everyone would agree that we must do more to support the estimated 650,000 unpaid carers who live in Scotland.
Recently I attended a conference hosted by the Inverclyde Carers Council at the Tontine Hotel in Greenock which was led by Irene Pollard – who as a result of her experience as a long-term carer does an excellent job chairing the council.
During the conference we discussed the Scottish Government’s consultation on its plans to give greater support to carers.
Given that there are now more people than ever before who are caring intensively, for more hours each week, the government is proposing that local authorities should carry out carers’ assessments to identify if they have the full support they need in relation to the person they are looking after.
The government also suggests that carers should have greater access to information and advice to help them in their caring role.
Further, it wants to give carers a greater say in the planning, shaping and delivery of services they use so that they better reflect their needs.
When the results of the consultation are published in the summer, Inverclyde Carers Council will be able to have their say.
The Scottish Parliament’s health committee which I convene will also be examining the proposals.
I hope that as a result of this process together we can make life better for carers and those who they care for.