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The New Mental Health Act: An Easy Read Guide

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05 The rights of carers

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  • Who is a carer?
  • Who is my primary carer?
  • What are my carer's rights?
  • How is my carer different from others who help me?
  • Who can my carer ask for support?

Who is a carer?

The new law says a carer is someone who gives you care and support when you need it. Your carer could be:

  • your husband/wife
  • your partner
  • a friend
  • a relative
  • a neighbour.

You can have more than one carer.

They can care for you and support you in different ways. For example, they can help with shopping, cooking and cleaning. They can listen to your problems and help you make decisions.

One of Stevie's carers is his friend, Duncan. Duncan helps Stevie with his shopping and cooking. He also takes him swimming every week and goes with him to the doctor's surgery.

A 'carer' is someone who helps you because they want to help you. It is not their job to do this. If someone helps you as part of their job they are not called carers. For example a home help is not called a 'carer' because it is their job.

Who is my primary carer?

Your primary carer is the person who gives you all or most of your care and support. If you have more than one carer they must decide who the primary carer is. You can help to decide this. You can only have one primary carer.

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Stevie talks to the people who care for him and to Duncan. They all decide that Duncan should be his primary carer because he gives him most help.

What are my carer's rights?

When doctors and others decide about your care and treatment they should:

  • find out what your carer thinks
  • think about your carer's rights
  • give your carer any information they need. They only do this if you agree. You can say if you do not want your carer to know some things. (If doctors or others believe you may not be safe because of your illness they tell your carer even if you disagree.)

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Stevie's carer, Duncan, thinks Stevie's illness is getting worse. He asks the local authority and the Health Board to assess Stevie's needs. This means they should find out what care and treatment he needs.

  • your carer is told by police if you need to be taken to a place of safety. The police do this if you are ill and need care and treatment immediately
  • if you are in hospital, your primary carer is told if you have to be changed to another hospital in Scotland
  • your carer can go to the Tribunal and tell them about your care and treatment needs.

Mental Health Tribunal: the organisation that decides about the compulsory treatment of people with mental disorder.

How is my carer different from others who help me?

If you are ill and need care and treatment there are other people who help you.

Named person

  • this is someone you choose to look after your interests if you need treatment. They help to decide about your care and treatment
  • a carer is not the same as the named person. A named person has other rights under the law
  • you can choose your carer to be your named person. If you do not choose a named person then the new law makes your primary carer your named person.

Independent advocate?

  • an independent advocate is called "independent" because they are not tied to other services. Your doctor, hospital or social work department can help you find an independent advocate
  • an independent advocate helps you say what you think about your care and treatment. They do not say what they think
  • your carer can say what they think about your care and treatment.

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Who can my carer ask for support?

If your carer has questions about your care and treatment or their own needs or rights they can contact the Mental Welfare Commission. The Mental Welfare Commission that looks after those who need help because of a mental disorder. They make sure all treatment follows the law.

They have a free phone advice line.

Service user and carer free phone: 0800 389 6809Telephone Logo
Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Postal Address Logo

Floor K, Argyle House
3 Lady Lawson Street
EDINBURGH EH3 9SH

Telephone: 0131 222 6111
Website: www.mwcscot.org.uk