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Guidance

Young adult carers - employment and training

Guidance on some of the challenges young adult carers face in employment, including a young adult carers experiences of employment.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessCarers in employment
I work in: 
Employment
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 16:30
Body: 

What challenges do young adult carers face in employment?

Young adult carers aged 16-18 are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training (NEET) as their peers without caring responsibilities due to the additional challenges they face in the workplace and their caring role.

It is likely that you have carers working alongside you in your job although you might not know it. Some signs that your college may be a carer are:

  • being late
  • high levels of absence
  • Fatigue.

Vulnerable to unemployment

Young adult carers are particularly vulnerable to periods of unemployment because of their caring responsibilities which can be misunderstood by employers. This is particularly difficult when a young adult carer is at the outset of their career and has not yet had the opportunity to establish themselves or their capabilities professionally.  

In 2014 Carers Trust published research into the experiences of PDF iconyoung adult carers in employment or training. Young adult carers gain many skills through their caring role for example budgeting, prioritising, increased empathy and deeper understanding of others.

However, young adult cares are struggling to put these skills into practice because of the demands placed on them due to their caring role. On average, the young adult carers that Carers Trust surveyed were absent from work for the equivalent of 17 days per year, and were late or had to leave early on approximately 79 days per year because of their caring responsibilities.

Young adult carers are communicating their situation to their managers but few offer support. 67% of the young adult carers surveyed informed their manager of their caring role but 41% reported that their managers have not been supportive.

Flexible work

Based on these statistics, it is not surprising that young adult carers often choose flexible work that is based close to the person they care for to minimise the potential for disruption to their working lives. Although understandable, the tight criteria on potential jobs leaves them vulnerable to periods of unemployment.

Young adult carers have reported that they do not get clear careers advice that takes the skills gained from their caring role into account. Again, this means that their employment choices are restricted.

Young adult carers experiences of employment

Terry is 20 years old and dreams of opening his own restaurant and becoming a chef. Terry cares for his father and he is determined to make his Dad proud and achieve his goals, even if they do get side-lined at times. He has been caring for his father since he was a small child and was supported by a young carer’s project until he was 18 when he moved to a young adult carer’s project.

Terry has worked a few jobs off and on but has had great difficulty in maintaining stable employment because of his caring role.

He has made his employers aware of his caring role, even going so far as to introduce his managers to his father. His manager said that Terry could take time off if he needed to care for his father.

Terry’s father was suddenly taken to hospital with a life threatening condition so Terry called his employer to tell them that he was unable to come into work. His employer was understanding on the telephone but when he returned to work the next week, Terry found he had half the number of shifts he would normally expect. Eventually Terry had to leave because he could not support himself on the low number of shifts he was offered.

Terry believes that this was because he had to put his caring role first.

Further information

How you can support young adult carers in employment

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Guidance

What you can do to support young adult carers at university

Here are some examples of what you can do to support young adult carers university.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
EducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 15:15
Body: 

Identify young adult carers in your institution

By identifying the numbers of young adult carers in your institution you will be able to commission services to meet their needs. Carers Trust recommends adding a field to university forms that specifically asks students if they have caring responsibilities so you can identify at an early stage. By taking this step you will be able to proactively engage and support young adult carers from the moment they start at the institution.

Raise awareness of carers and caring among students

Some young adult carers may not realise that they are in a caring role as caring is ‘something that they have always done’. It is important to raise awareness of caring amongst students and offer support if they come forward to disclose their caring status.

Carers Trust recommends that you publicise who young adult carers are and the services available to support them as much as possible in the university. Even a poster could make a difference to a young adult carers life.

Raise awareness of carers among staff

Ensure that all staff members are aware of what a young adult carer is, the challenges they may face and available solutions. Although more than three quarters of the young adult carers surveyed had explained their caring role to their college or university, nearly half (45%) of them said that despite this there was still no one there that helped them.

Some of the signs that someone may be a young adult carer include:

  • being late for classes
  • handing in homework/ coursework late or incomplete
  • difficulty concentrating
  • high levels of absence
  • drops in grades
  • Low confidence.

If you suspect that a student may be a carer, take some time to talk to them and offer support to work through their issues and achieve the best grades possible whilst at university.

Engage with the local carers services

Most areas will have a local carers service nearby where students can access support. You can find them by looking at the carers services map or via your local authorities’ web page or advice line.

Carers services will be able to advise you on the appropriate steps to take if a student discloses that they are a carer. Carers Services may be interested in working with you.

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PDF icon Young adult carers at college and universityPDF icon Learning with Care NUS research report
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Guidance

Young adult carers at university

Going to university gives young people the chance to become independent, carve out their own identity and get the skills they need to embark on their chosen career.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
EducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 15:15
Body: 

Why should universities support young adult carers?

Going to university gives young people the chance to become independent, carve out their own identity and get the skills they need to embark on their chosen career. For young adult carers university is particularly important because it allows them to distance themselves from their caring role.

There are carers in every institution although many are likely to be hidden. Research by Carers Trust has shown that young adult carers are four times more likely to drop out of university than their peers, a shocking statistic that underlines the additional challenges faced by young adult carers at university.

There are many possible reasons for this. Research from Carers Trust revealed that 42% of the young adult carers at university surveyed were in paid employment whilst studying for their degree. This included young adult carers who were providing the highest level of care. This statistic suggests that young adult carers are concerned about finance and may not feel that bursaries are enough to get them through the year.

The pressure that academic study, paid work and caring puts on young adult carers is reflected in the high rates of mental ill health reported to Carers Trust. 45% of those survey reported a mental health problem – almost twice the national average.

The result of this is that, without the right support, young adult carers can struggle to do as well as their peers at university. This can have a negative impact on their life opportunities and the forming of their own identity and independence.

Young adult carers experiences of university

Jessie is 24. She has a degree and is at university studying for a Master’s. She cares for her mother, who has cancer, and for her elderly grandparents. She has been caring since her mother was diagnosed with cancer two years ago.

She cares for her family for 50 hours during the week and 20 at weekends as well as working 4-8 hours a week as a waitress and completing her Masters course. Despite this, Jessie has never had a formal carer’s assessment.

Although Jessie is studying and working outside of her home, she feels that she “can’t escape it when there is someone who needs constant care in your home, your house is no longer your own… you can’t just do the things you normally do, you always have to think and act for others first.”

Jessie believes that her physical health is ‘Just OK’ and she feels she has a mental health problem.

What is already being done to support young adult carers

There is growing recognition that young adult carers need better support at university. Two significant pieces of research of carers at university are PDF iconYoung adult carers experiences at college and university published by Carers Trust and PDF iconLearning with Care published by the National Union of Students (NUS). These show examples of good practice and have recommendations on how universities can better support young adult carers.

Currently, there are very few, if any, examples of universities that have policies specifically designed to support young adult carers at university. However, Carers Trust is currently working with a group of universities to produce a toolkit so universities can better support young adult carers. The toolkit will be available in early 2015. Keep checking the website for more details.

Carers Trust in partnership with NUS and The University of Nottingham held an event over two days in June 2014. 200 young adult carers, support workers and decision makers came together to discuss how young adult carers could be better supported to access university.

In 2013, Carers Trust commissioned the University of Nottingham to undertake research to examine the experiences and aspirations of young adult carers with regards to school, further and higher education, and work. A total of 362 people viewed the survey, and responses from 295 young adult carers aged 14–25 were analysed. Read the full PDF iconTime to be Heard report - Young Adult Carers and Employment.

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PDF icon Young adult carers at college and universityPDF icon Learning with Care NUS research report
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Good Practice

What you can do to support young adult carers at college

Here are some examples of what you can do to support young adult carers at college.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Carers servicesSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 15:15
Body: 

Identify young adult carers in your institution

By identifying the numbers of young adult carers in your institution you will be able to commission services to meet their needs. Carers Trust recommends adding a field to college application forms to identify as early whether the student has a caring role. By taking this step you will be able to proactively engage and support young adult carers from the moment they start at the institution.

Raise awareness of carers and caring among students

Some young adult carers may not realise that they are in a caring role as caring is something that they have always done. It is important to raise awareness of caring amongst students and offer support if they come forward to disclose their caring status.

Carers Trust recommends that you publicise who young adult carers are and the services available to support them as much as possible in the school. Even a poster can make a difference to a young adult carers life.

Raise awareness of carers among staff

Ensure that all staff members are aware of what a young adult carer is, the challenges they may face and available solutions. Research has shown that 75% of respondents informed college or university staff of their caring role but almost half 45% said no one recognised them as a carer and helped them.

Some of the signs that someone may be a young adult carer include:

  • being late for classes
  • handing in homework/ coursework late or incomplete
  • difficulty concentrating
  • high levels of absence
  • drops in grades
  • Low confidence.

If you suspect that a student may be a carer, take some time to talk to them and offer support to work through their issues so they can achieve the best grades possible whilst at college.

Engage with the local carers services

Most areas will have a local carers service nearby where students can access support. You can find them by looking at the carers services map or via your local authorities’ web page or advice line.

Carers services will be able to advise you on the appropriate steps to take if a student discloses that they are a carer.

Carers Services may be interested in working with colleges to raise awareness so see if anyone would be available at your local service. Give them a call to see what they can offer you.

What is already being done to support young adult carers at college

There is growing recognition that young adult carers need better support at college. Two significant pieces of research of carers at university are PDF iconYoung adult carers experiences at college and university published by Carers Trust and PDF iconLearning with Care published by the National Union of Students (NUS). These show examples of good practice and have recommendations on how colleges can better support young adult carers.

Carers Trust is currently working with a group of colleges to produce a toolkit so universities can better support young adult carers. The toolkit will be available in early 2015. Keep checking the website for more details.

Carers Trust in partnership with NUS and The University of Nottingham held an event over two days in June 2014. 200 young adult carers, support workers and decision makers came together to discuss how young adult carers could be better supported to access college.

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PDF icon Young adult carers at college and universityPDF icon Learning with Care NUS research report
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Good Practice

Young adult carers and college

College is an important step for young people to access both the workplace and higher education.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Carers servicesSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 15:15
Body: 

Why should colleges support young adult carers?

College is an important step for young people to access both the workplace and higher education. Historically, young adult carers have struggled to access college due to their grades in school and their caring role – young adult carers aged 16-18 are twice as likely to be not in education, employment, or training (NEET) than their peers.

There are carers in every institution although many are likely to be hidden. Recent research revealed that of the young adult carers who informed their college, 45% felt there was no one to help them (Sempik, Becker 2013). This discourages young adult carers from coming forward as they see ‘no point’ in telling anyone.

Mental ill-health

The pressure that academic study, paid work and caring puts on young adult carers is reflected in the high rates of mental ill health reported to Carers Trust. 45% of those surveyed reported a mental health problem – almost twice the national average.

The result of this is that, without the right support, young adult carers can struggle to do as well as their peers at college. A recent survey by the National Union of Students showed that only 36% of student carers felt able to balance their commitments, compared with 53% of students without caring responsibilities. This can have a negative impact on their life opportunities and the forming of their own identity and independence.

Young adult carers experiences of college

Harriet was caring for her dad (she now cares for mum) when she was 16/17 and at college. She was a lone carer – her mum and dad split up when she was 13 and her dad developed a drink problem.

At school Harriet had a sympathetic teacher who knew about her home life and gave her the right support. She got very good results at GSCE with 15 A and A* grades.

She went onto Sixth Form College and because of her academic excellence, they wanted her to take seven AS levels and didn’t want her to drop any. As Harriet says, “this would have been difficult for anyone, let alone someone running a house and caring for a parent.”

Struggling

As a result of the pressure Harriet struggled. She asked for more support from the college which was given and then withdrawn when she had to miss sessions because of her caring responsibilities. She also had some counselling sessions but she didn’t find them practically helpful.

Due to the lack of support at college and the situation at home, Harriet was diagnosed with depression and failed all of her exams.

Harriet decided to leave the college and discovered there was no record of her being a carer or being diagnosed with depression on her records, despite her saying so many times.

Harriet has now left education and is being supported to secure an apprenticeship by her local carers service.

Downloads: 
PDF icon Learning with Care NUS research reportPDF icon Young adult carers at college and university
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Key Info

Who are young adult carers?

Young adult carers are transitioning from childhood into adulthood, and they often go unidentified and unsupported.
Outcomes: 
Carer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesEmploymentSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 15:15
Body: 

Young adult carers are transitioning from childhood into adulthood. There is no legal age definition for young adult carers, although Carers Trust’s support work focuses on young adults aged between 14 and 25 who care, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Young adult carers often go unidentified and unsupported, but the negative impacts of caring on young adults, which often increase as they grow older, can have a negative and enduring impact on their own physical health, mental health, education and employment opportunities.

How many young adult carers are there in the UK?

The 2011 census identified more than 375,000 young adult carers in the UK, but this is believed to be a huge underestimate of the true numbers as many young adults hide their caring role or do not identify themselves as carers.

Why do young adult carers need support?

Young adult carers take on significant additional responsibilities which can make the typical transitions from childhood into adulthood especially complex and challenging.

The difficulties they experience as a result of their caring role can have significant and long term negative impacts on their confidence, socialisation, their engagement with education and employment and their overall physical and emotional wellbeing.

View the PDF iconwho are young adult carers infographic to find out more about young adult carers and what they do.

Many young adult carers experience issues with their educationemployment and health.

Further information

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PDF icon Who are Young Adult Carers?PDF icon Young Adult Carers Experiences
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Educational

Anti Bullying Resource – Being Me

Bullying can be a big issue for young carers and can have a major impact on their self-confidence and self-esteem. "Being Me" will equip teachers to work with pupils to tackle bullying in a fresh way.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeing
I work in: 
Education
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 13:45
Body: 

Carers Trust has teamed up with national anti-bullying charity Kidscape, as well as Diversity Role Models, Potential Plus UK and The National Autistic Society - charities representing children who are at the end of an unacceptable level of bullying in Britain's schools today, to develop Being Me.

Better understanding

Being Me is a series of resources designed to give children across the UK an insight into the life of their classmate, and a better understanding of what it is like to be them.

Originally designed for National Anti-Bullying Week's drive to stop bullying and to celebrate difference, this new unique school resource includes a specific section on young carers. 

Download resources

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PDF icon Being me - supporting young carers in your class
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Guidance

Young Carers and Parental Mental ill-Health – examples of good practice

Around a third of young carers care for someone with a mental health condition. Many young people who care for someone with a mental health problem go identified and unsupported. View examples of good practice on this page.
Area of Care: 
Mental Health
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesSocial care
I work with: 
Young carers
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 16:30
Body: 

Whole-family support for young carers affected by parental mental ill health

This PDF iconpartnership improves systems and practice within inpatient mental health services and community mental health teams, which then promotes mental health professionals to enquire about patients’ children and family situations and improves information sharing between all the professionals who work with these families. The project ensures that no child or young person takes on the majority of care for an adult once they are discharged from mental health services.

Young Carers website

Information about mental illness and support at www.youngcarers.net includes a film by a young carer who cares for her father with severe depression. The young carer explains how she copes with the responsibility of running the household and helping her father to stay positive.

MyCare project

The PDF iconMycare project from 2010 explored the needs of young people who care for a parent with severe mental illness.

Other examples of good practice for young carers affected by parental mental ill health

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Guidance

Young Carers and Parental Mental ill-Health

Around a third of young carers care for someone with a mental health condition. Many young people who care for someone with a mental health problem go identified and unsupported. Identifying these young carers may be more difficult because the illness is less visible.
Area of Care: 
Mental Health
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesSocial care
I work with: 
Young carers
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 16:30
Body: 

Mental ill-health

Not all children whose family members have mental ill-health will experience difficulties or be young carers.

Barriers to identification

Because mental illness is not always visible and many mental health conditions fluctuate nature, young carers often care unidentified and unsupported.

Mental ill-health is still often misunderstood and individuals and families can still experience stigma associated with it. As a result young carers caring for a parent or other family member with a mental health condition may be more reluctant to tell anyone about it. Identification may also be impeded by parents not wishing to involve services because of fear of stigmatisation.

Unique experiences

Whilst young carers will have many shared experiences, young people caring for someone with a mental illness may experience additional difficulties.

Young carers may find it hard to understand the illness and may not have someone to explain it to them in an age-appropriate way. Others may be embarrassed about their parent’s illness, bullied because of it, or scared by its unpredictable nature.

Providing emotional support to a parent at risk of harming themselves or committing suicide, or dealing with the aftermath of these actions and the intermittent and unpredictable needs of individuals with mental health difficulties can be extremely distressing.     

Because of the stigma associated with mental illness children and young people may conceal their caring role from their peers or choose not to take friends home for fear of being bullied or socially isolated.

Support

Fear of stigmatisation and fear of a services intervention can act as barriers to identification and young carers receiving support. Services and support must recognise these particular issues faced by these young people and gain the trust of families and young people in order to encourage openness and engagement.

Dual diagnosis

Some parents may have a mental health condition and also be affected by substance or alcohol misuse. It is important to maintain effective links between all agencies involved to provide extra support should they need it.

Further information

Young Carers and Parental Mental ill-Health – examples of good practice

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Guidance

What rights do young carers have?

Brief details of rights that young carers are entitled to, taken from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:45
Body: 

As a child a young carer has the right to: 

  • a childhood
  • have an education
  • be healthy
  • be heard, listened to and believed
  • be protected from physical and psychological harm
  • be consulted and fully involved in discussions which affect their lives.
  • have privacy and respect.

Further detail can be found in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A young carer has a particular right to:

  • request an assessment to see what help and support they and their family need
  • choose the amount of care they receive
  • be protected from excessive or inappropriate caring that impacts on their health and wellbeing
  • information and advice.
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