This webpage is specifically for unpaid carers; family, friends or neighbours who provide care and support to someone with mental health difficulties. If you are not sure if you are an unpaid carer there is a helpful description on the Midspace factsheet here
Please click on a topic to take you straight to it or scroll down the page to find what you are looking for.
· Carer Support Organisations
· Carer Assessment
· Power of Attorney and Guardianship
· Wills and Trusts
· Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
· Respite and Short Breaks
· Taking Care of Yourself
Carer Support Organisations
· VOCAL (Midlothian)
This is the carers centre in Dalkeith and provides:
- information and advice
- emotional support
- training and group-work
... to carers who live and/or care for someone in Midlothian.
VOCAL also provides free one-to-one legal surgeries, and support for those who are worried about someone’s drug or alcohol addiction. You can contact VOCAL Midlothian on 0131 663 6869 or email here
The link to the Vocal website is here
'We are an independent organisation that is carer-led in its developments'. We provide carers with
You can contact them on 0131 270 6087/6089 or email here
Edinburgh Carers Council website here
· Support in Mind Scotland
Support in Mind Scotland works to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people affected by serious mental illness. This includes those who are family members, carers and supporters. We seek to support and empower all those affected by mental illness.
The Edinburgh Carers Officer provides support to carers, families and friends of people with a serious mental illness. Practical advice, emotional support, information and contact with other carers can be provided.
For more information please contact Lorraine Keith on 0131 662 2280 email here
Support in Mind's hours are Monday – Thursday 9.00 am – 5.00pm. Website here
Information about Carer Assessment can be found on the Midspace factsheet ‘Carers’ here
Entering into the world of benefits and knowing what you, and/or the person you care for, have an entitlement to can be a confusing experience.
If you care for someone who has mental health issues then there are a few key benefits to be aware of (please click on the title for more information):
• Disability Living Allowance (under 65 years old)
• Attendance Allowance (over 65 years old)
• Carer's Allowance
• Income Support
• Employment and Support Allowance
It can be a lot to take in and often it can be helpful to speak to someone directly to see what you or the person you care for may be able to claim.
Carer Welfare Rights webpage provides helpful information about benefits and you can contact them if you want further advice or to ask questions.
Midlothian Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) website provides information and advice about a wide range of topics including benefits. They can also help you or the person you care for to apply for benefits.
The Midlothian Council Welfare Rights Team ensures that people are receiving the benefits they may be entitled to and provide support at Social Security Tribunals. To find out more please visit the Midlothian Council webpage here
Power of Attorney and Guardianship
This is legal document that allows one person to give another person permission to make financial and/or welfare decisions on their behalf if they are unable to so – when they lack capacity to make decisions. Power of Attorney can only be created when the person has capacity to give permission.
Information about Power of Attorney can be found at the Office of the Public Guardian here
VOCAL runs free Power of Attorney surgeries at the office in Edinburgh, replacing the need to see a solicitor. For more information please contact VOCAL Midlothian on 0131 663 6869 or email here
This is an order under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 from the Sheriff Court. It states who the Sheriff has appointed– called Guardians - to look after the financial and /or welfare affairs of someone who is unable to deal with them. . The order could allow whoever has been appointed by the Sheriff to manage these affairs on an ongoing basis
Information about Guardianship can be found at the Office of the Public Guardian here
VOCAL runs free Legal Surgeries at the office in Edinburgh which include 30 minute consultations on guardianship. For more information please contact VOCAL Midlothian on 0131 663 6869 or email here
Support in Mind has information about Wills and Trusts that you can order for free. The financial figures are out of date (it is being updated) but the principles still apply. For more information and contact details please go to their website
VOCAL runs free Legal Surgeries which include 30 minute consultations with a solicitor about Wills, Trusts and Guardianship. For more information please contact VOCAL Midlothian on 0131 663 6869 or email here
Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
This is the act which relates to the hospital detention and compulsory treatment (in hospital or the community) of someone when they are unwell due to mental health problems.
Midspace has factsheet here with links for further information about the Mental Health Act.
CAPS (The Consultation and Advocacy Promotion Service) provides advocacy for people who use or have used mental health services. They have some helpful documents about ‘Named Persons’ and ‘Advance Statements’ in relation to the Mental Health Act. You can find further information on their website here
Carers can find it challenging to obtain necessary information they need to support their caring role from professionals. The person you care for has the right to confidentiality with respect to their health issues and any treatment they are having.
As a carer, however, you are entitled to general information about the condition and medication, even if the person you care for does not consent to specific personal information being shared. NHS Lothian state this clearly in the Lothian Carer Information Strategy, which ensures carers are well informed and supported in their caring role.
As a carer you have the right to:
- general information about the condition of the person you care for
- general information about any types of medication the person you care for is taking
- general information about types of support and how to access support
More information about the Lothian Carer Information Strategy can be found here
Providing general information does not require breaking the confidentiality of the person you care for and it may actually help you understand what is going on and how to best support them.
As a carer you also have a right to inform professionals of what you have noticed or experienced. Sometimes this can be really helpful for the professionals to get a better picture of what has been happening – after all, you know the person better than anyone!
Some carers can find this uncomfortable but it is important not to forget that information you have could help the person you care for get the right treatment and move forward.
There is some really helpful information about the issue of confidentiality available:
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have a specific leaflet about confidentiality and an explanation about how and when detailed information about the person you care for can be disclosed to you - available here
The Mental Welfare Commission Scotland have a booklet called ‘Carers and Confidentiality’ which shares good practice in terms of providing carers with appropriate information whilst adhering to confidentiality of the person cared-for. You can also contact them directly if you would like information and advice in relation to someone’s mental health care and treatment, or if you are concerned about the rights and welfare of someone. Contact them on 0800 369 6809 (Hours are Mon – Thurs 9.00 am to 5 pm, and Fri 9.00 am to 4.30 pm). Website is here and you can download the document on Carers and Confidentiality here
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers have developed a document called ‘Triangle of Care’ which aims to assist professional teams working in the mental health field to work and communicate better with carers specifically around the issue of confidentiality. Download it here
As a carer it is important to take care of yourself and find time away from the caring situation to relax and unwind from what can be a stressful situation.
However, actually being able to do this can be difficult for many reasons and often it is something that is forgotten about until a crisis occurs.
VOCAL Midlothian can help by talking with you about how to get a break and support you to access a break. There is information on their website which can be found here
If you would like to speak to someone directly then please contact VOCAL Midlothian on 0131 663 6869 or email here
Midlothian Council have information on their website specifically around unpaid carers and respite/short breaks - links here and here.
Midspace has information here about Midlothian Council’s Supporting Short Breaks Fund: a fund to assist carers to access a break from caring.
Putting yourself first can seem a strange experience, especially if you have been caring for someone for a while, but taking care of yourself is important because when we are feeling well, relaxed and relatively stress-free we are better able to cope with whatever life throws at us.
Taking care of yourself is different for everyone and it is important that you find things that make you feel good, help you stay fit and well, and that fits in with your life. It doesn’t have to be a big change and in fact lots of small changes can have just as good an effect.
- going for a 15min walk to clear your head
- meeting a friend for coffee for 30min
- reading a favourite book for 20min
Here are some useful websites that include information about keeping yourself well and managing stress: