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Hello again

My colleague Sylwia reminded me that I should have included a bit in our bulletin about the new Carers Befriending Group she and our volunteer befrienders are starting up on Monday 22nd February.  The group is for carers who would like to meet up with other carers and befrienders for social interaction and fun.  You can find out more about it by click this link here: CARERS GROUPS

Best wishes

Lesley Childs

Depute Manager

Fife Carers Centre

157 Commercial Street| Kirkcaldy | KY1 2NS

Office: 01592 205 472

Mobile: 07736 927991

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

There is still some of the money announced by the First Minister to help carers have a break from thier caring role available to apply for.  It is administered through the Creative Breaks Fund overseen by Fife Voluntary Action.  You can apply for up to £300 to buy something that will help give you a break from your caring role.  Obviously going away for a break is not possible now so you will have to think about other ways to have a break.

Some of the things other carers have bought with their grants have included Garden Sheds, Fitness equipment including bicycles, Items for hobbies, Kindles, Tablets or laptops with earphones so you can watch your own programmes,  or you could think about food delivery from companies such as Gusto or Hello Fresh to explore new ideas in your cooking or even deliveries of takeaway food to have a break from cooking.  Think out of the box about what gives you a break from your caring role.

This funding is available just now and must be spent before the end of March.  At the moment some of the normal rules have been suspended to enable as many carers as possible to access it quickly so if you are caring for a child under 21 you can apply (normally is for carers of adults over 21) and if you had a Creative Breaks Grant last year (it’s normally only available every two years) you can apply. An application form is attached to this email for you to complete and email to the email address on the back page of the form to make your application.

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

Community & Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Fife

Thursday 25 February 2021, from 10:00 – 12:45

The Life Changes Trust in partnership with stakeholders from across Fife, want to inform and inspire those attending by providing an opportunity to learn from initiatives and evidence from across Fife and support local areas to think more deeply about how communities can uphold the human rights of people with dementia and unpaid carers.  To book your place in the audience just click on the link below:

Community & Dementia:Creating Better Lives in Fife

The most recent information that we have about the unpaid carers vaccinations is as follows

  • We have now passed one million first dose vaccinations in Scotland.
  • Second appointments for those who received their first vaccination at the beginning of the campaign are also underway.
  • Around 75,000 more people have been vaccinated than originally anticipated in Scotland’s deployment plan which is due to higher take-up rates of vaccine than anticipated and that is very welcome. But this all has had an impact on our available vaccine supply and we must therefore ensure enough vaccine for second doses when they are due.
  • Scotland continues to follow the JCVI advice on prioritisation – to protect those most at risk.
  • Unpaid carers, who continue to be prioritised as part of group 6, will be called forward as soon as vaccine supplies allow, both through letters to those on relevant benefits, and through a national marketing campaign signposting them to the forthcoming self-referral portal.
  • More details on timescales for unpaid carers will follow shortly.

Fife Carers Centre is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

Company Number 282309.  Scottish Charity Number SC029466.

Fife Carers Centre is an independent voluntary organisation funded by Fife Council and NHS Fife.

The above information is from Fife Carers Centre Information Bulletin Mon 15/02/2021

18th February 2021
by Gareth Jones

An independent review of adult social care in Scotland was published earlier this month

The Scottish Government has said it is committed to implementing the far reaching recommendations of a recent review into adult social care in Scotland. Continue reading

17th February 2021
Guest post

Mandy Laurie of Burness Paull looks at where employment law stands as the covid vaccine is rolled out

Since Margaret Keenan became the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine in the UK, the rest of the nation has watched on as the introduction of two vaccines and the approval of a third have meant that a return to normal routines may be a step closer.

However, where does that leave employers and employees in terms of a return to the workplace? Can an employer make vaccination compulsory for all employees? And can employers insist that employees return to the workplace? Continue reading

 18th February 2021
by Robbie Ross

Robbie Ross says cyber criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses when planning attacks

Cyber security has posed a threat for a number of years, with many of us falling victim to online crime, in both a personal and professional capacity.

As the UK went into a lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations transitioned to remote working. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have seen this as an opportunity to attack businesses across the globe, using sophisticated and innovative tactics to target the most vulnerable, including charitable organisations.

When cyber criminals are scanning for opportunities, they are looking for weaknesses and open doors. At Converged Communication Solutions, we want to help charities close as many of these doors as possible and allow them to focus on the incredible work they do.

Online criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses, and charities have what they want – namely data and access to money. Unlike many large businesses, charitable organisations do not have the same expensive software or IT knowledge, which is why it is so important that charities get the security and protection basics right.

Statistics from the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 shows that 26% of charities suffered a cyber attack in the last year, with more than half reporting they were “negatively impacted”.

Unfortunately for larger charities, those which have earnings of more than £500,000, 57% fell victim to a cyber-attack.

Charities have it within themselves to improve their cyber security, even with very limited resources and little to no budget. However, it is up to us as an industry to share our expertise and provide the practical tools they need, to have confidence in their own ability to protect themselves and the wider organisation.

Part of this involves us breaking down the barriers which exist, especially around lack of technical know-how. We need to correct the misconception that cyber security is a specialist only remit – it is not.

Research produced by GCHQ, BIS and CPNI in a report entitled ’10 Steps to Cyber Security’, highlights that once organisations learn the basics, they could be protected against up to 80% of known attacks.

Another barrier is the cost of implementing cyber security. However, many of the steps charities can take to better protect themselves are completely free or low cost.

In recent months, we have worked closely with Scottish science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) charity, TechFest, which highlighted knowledge gaps in online security for charitable organisations.

With a passion to improve safety and raise awareness of threats, we have created a free webinar in partnership with TechFest. Not only do we want to provide advice to charities around what they can do to better protect themselves, but we also want to point out that many of these things are straightforward, and inexpensive to achieve.

Charities which don’t know where to start with cyber security are encouraged to sign up for our webinar Cyber Security Basics for Charities – a chance to learn, question and build cyber confidence’.

In Scotland, charities have some great resources available to help them on their cyber journey, including the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Both organisations provide a range of cyber security services for businesses and organisations across Scotland.

With just a bit of education and support, we can make it much tougher for cyber criminals to get past security systems and safeguard both data and much-needed funds. The free webinar is taking place on Wednesday 24 February at 10. 30am. You can sign up here.

Robbie Ross is chief security officer at Converged Communication Solutions

The above information is from Third Force News Weekly Opinion Posts roundup Fri 19/02/2021

16th February 2021
by Gareth Jones

MS Society Scotland has called for politicians to commit to taking action that will help those battling the condition

A Scottish health charity is calling for the creation of a ‘right to rehab’ to ensure that everyone can access the support they when they need it.

The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society Scotland is asking prospective MSPs to campaign on increased support and better access to treatments and rehab services for people living with the condition in the second of their three mini-manifestos.

The charity has highlighted that many people living with the condition are unable to find timely access to the treatments, physio and support that could help them live well. MS Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world with 15,000 people living with the condition across the country.

Candidates are urged to commit to three areas of focus in the run-up to the elections at Holyrood in May:

  • Creation of a ‘Right to Rehab’, giving everyone in Scotland equal access to the right support in the right place at the right time
  • Access to appropriate disease modifying treatments (DMTs) no matter where you live in Scotland
  • Access to MS nurses when you need them no matter where you live in Scotland

MS damages nerves in your body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think. The condition is relentless, painful and disabling.

The treatment landscape for people living in Scotland has evolved rapidly in the past few years with the first treatments for the primary and secondary progressive forms of the condition approved for us on the NHS in 2020.

There are now 15 disease modifying therapies (DMTs) available for MS with the most recent, ozanimod, given the green light just last week (Monday 8 February). Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT), a further DMT, was recommended for use at the end of 2019 but is not currently accessible in Scotland for those eligible.

These treatments can decrease the number and severity of relapses and there is agreement among the MS and clinical community that early treatment with a DMT can improve long-term outcomes.

However, MS Society research has shown that the number of people taking a DMT who could potentially benefit has remained constant in spite of this progress.

This has upped pressure on MS nurses and is only likely to increase further as the treatment landscape expands and more of the MS population become eligible for DMTs. As it stands the average MS nurse caseload in Scotland is 1 nurse to 384 people living with MS; higher than the MS Trust sustainable caseload ratio of 315.

Physio, occupational therapy and symptom management treatments can help manage people’s MS and support them to live more independently.

Many people living with the condition, however, are unable to access the support they need. 29% of people with MS had an unmet need for physiotherapy while a third (34%) had an unmet need to remain physically active.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected people’s access to these vital but already under-resourced services.

The UK MS Register life in lockdown survey vividly demonstrated the impact that Covid has had on people living with MS in Scotland. 44% of respondents reported that their MS symptoms had deteriorated during lockdown and 85% reported that their walking ability or balance had got worse

MS Society Scotland is using its #LouderForMS campaign to keep issues that affect the over 15,000 people living with MS in the country at the forefront as polls near.

MS Society Scotland director, Morna Simpkins, said: “Finding effective treatments to stop MS and helping people to live well with the condition are at the heart of what we do.

“Over the past 20 years the number of therapies available for people with MS has greatly increased and we want to see a system that makes the most of those advances.

“We want the next government to raise the standard of MS services across Scotland, so that people with MS are able to access the right treatment, care and support, at the right time. No matter who they are, where they live or their circumstance.

“The importance of a ‘Right to Rehab’ has been thrown into sharp relief in the past 12 months as services have been restricted and people face new challenges in maintaining their mobility and health. Giving everyone in Scotland equal access to the right support in the right place at the right time should be a priority.

“New standards for neurological care and support from Healthcare Improvement Scotland are a welcome step in tackling variation in the support people receive and the government’s announcement of a funding programme to support collaborative work in achieving the priorities of the framework was very encouraging.

“We must go further to ensure meaningful improvements to MS services across Scotland are realised. So this election time we are asking politicians and parties to get #LouderForMS to ensure the voices of everyone affected by MS in Scotland are heard in parliament.”

Mary Douglas, 68, lives in the Bodrers and was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 1983. The retired NHS manager experiences daily fatigue, sight issues and bladder weakness.

Mary said: “Under normal circumstances I see my neurologist or MS Nurse at my local district hospital twice a year and I also access urology and physiotherapy services.

“Because of the Covid crisis services were very poor for people living with all sorts neurological conditions not just MS.

“I had a physio appointment scheduled all the way back in April and they phoned me up a few days before and said I couldn’t come so a lot of things have been delayed.

“My mobility decreased in the short term because I wasn’t been able to see a physiotherapist and although we had telephone consultations I can’t really see how that works properly as they must need to see how you’re moving. It must be very difficult to deliver a good service over the phone.

“I try to look after myself by eating well and exercising, which hopefully helps you to keep moving but if I can’t move so well I feel that I’m bound to decline.

“Services are returning very slowly and I’ve now seen a physio in person but it was a very long wait.

“It also took well over a year to be seen from when I was first referred to a urology specialist for problems with my bladder. I was offered an appointment towards the end of last year which I wasn’t able to attend. When I phoned to change the appointment I was told the nurse had retired and has not been replaced so no appointments were coming up for the foreseeable future.

“I was put back on the waiting list with no hint of when the service would start again as though it had just disappeared.

“Thankfully, I’ve now seen the urology nurse and had a phone consultation with the urologist but during the height of lockdown this meant it was difficult to go out as all public toilets were shut. I have to carefully plan where I go so I know I’ll have access.

“This has a huge impact on my life, as well as hundreds of others. This is a human right, and more needs to be done to ensure everyone has the access to support they need.

“On top of that we’ve been impacted by venue closures. Our local MS Society group provides support services like pilates and yoga which help with mobility and socialising but they’ve also had to stop which has a big effect. Community support is important too and it was just another facet which fell away in the past year.”

To read MS Society Scotland’s manifesto in full and find out more please visit:

The above information is from Weekly Health & Social Care roundup on TFN (Third Force Newsnewsletter Wed 13/01/2021

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