ACTION to ensure unpaid carers are supported throughout the coronavirus crisis has become a key priority for health and social care chiefs in West Dunbartonshire.

The area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) is working on an action plan to ensure people who provide voluntary care to a loved one are properly looked after, while making sure the carer looks out for their own health and wellbeing.

The HSCP’s carers’ strategy is underpinned by the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which requires each local authority and relevant health board in Scotland to prepare a statutory local carers strategy, as well as extending and enhancing the rights of unpaid carers.

The Act also requires the collection and recording of data on unpaid carers in the area.

Progress both locally and nationally has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Val Tierney, the partnership’s chief nurse, told a meeting of the partnership’s board on Thursday: “The carers’ strategy has previously been presented to the board.

“There was a request at that point that we come back and provide you with more detail on the actions that are within the strategy, and how we were proposing to achieve them and to demonstrate our performance.

“The Carers Act reflects quite a significant change to practice. Part of the work we have undertaken in developing this action plan is a review of the systems we have in place to record data, to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

“Progress in this respect has been interrupted both locally and nationally by Covid-19, but there has been a lot of work ongoing to deliver support to carers.

“There has been a lot of hard work over the last year to ensure carers who would be undoubtedly under increased pressure continue to receive support in that time.”