Health Secretary Shona Robison has paid tribute to the work of Frank’s Law campaigner Amanda Kopel after it was announced at least 9,000 Scots could benefit from a change in the law on personal care.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced free personal care will be extended to under-65s with degenerative conditions as part of the Programme for Government on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Ms Robison visited Mrs Kopel to congratulate her on the success of her campaign.
Mrs Kopel has pushed for the change in care provision since her husband, former Dundee United player Frank Kopel, was diagnosed with and later died from early onset dementia.
She said: “I was blown away, absolutely over the moon. There are no words in the dictionary that explain how I felt on Tuesday when I heard the First Minister announce that they were going to deliver Frank’s Law.
“I just started sobbing, turned to a photograph of Frankie and, to be honest, I never heard the rest of the First Minister’s speech.
“These were words which for 51 months Frank and I had hoped and prayed that we would hear coming out of the chamber at Holyrood.
“A big, big moment not just for me, not just for Frankie, but for all the under-65s in Scotland who have been living in hope for these words to have been spoken.”
Known as Frank’s Law, the policy will take effect by April 2019 and is expected to benefit at least 9,000 people living in Scotland.
Those living with conditions such as dementia currently have no access to free public care until they are 65.
New guidelines for the implementation of the policy are starting to be developed by the Scottish Government.
Contact will be made with the UK Government to discuss how the change in law could affect other benefits claimants receive.
Ms Robison said: “Amanda’s been absolutely amazing. She’s a very inspiring, tenacious lady and it’s been a great opportunity for me to personally thank her.
“I’ve had a lot of contact with Amanda over the years, around Frank’s Law. It’s been a great moment to thank her personally and to pay tribute to her role in making all of this happen.”
Mr Kopel was diagnosed with dementia aged 59, with Mrs Kopel paying £1,200 a month for care until he died aged 65 in 2014, just weeks after he qualified for free personal care.
Their home in Kirriemuir, Angus, is filled with family pictures and portraits of the former footballer.
Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs previously brought forward a member’s bill to implement the changes in law.
Now, Mrs Kopel is working on setting up the Frank Kopel Foundation in memory of her late husband.
But first, after years of campaigning, she is looking forward to a break.
Mrs Kopel added: “Frank was a defender and never scored many goals. But he scored the match winner against Anderlecht in the UEFA cup and now I know how he felt.”