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Key Info

Young Carer Services

Young carers’ services provide a level of expertise in supporting young carers that universal services, by virtue of being universal, cannot provide.
Area of Care: 
Mental HealthPhysical illness
Outcomes: 
PreventionCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:45
Body: 

Young carers’ services provide a level of expertise in supporting young carers that universal services, by virtue of being universal, cannot provide.

Many are able to be flexible and creative in how they deliver services. By championing the needs of young carers and families, many local services have also driven forward strategic change and workforce development in local areas.

Early intervention

Young carer services offer a range of early intervention and prevention support to young people with caring responsibilities aimed at:  

  • identifying and supporting young carers early
  • reducing inappropriate or excessive caring roles
  • improving young carers physical, mental and emotional health
  • reducing barriers to accessing and sustaining education, training and employment
  • Improving young carers’ life chances and helping them reach their potential.

Young carer services range in size and services offered, with funding coming from a range of sources including local authorities and voluntary sector grants.

Many young carer’s services have now also adopted a whole family approach. Many are now assessing and responding to the needs of the whole family by directly supporting families or by actively coordinating the support of other services.

Different types of activities offered include

  • activities and breaks
  • peer and community support, including young carers groups and peer mentoring schemes
  • information, advice and guidance, including 1:1 support and age appropriate information
  • emotional support
  • advocacy
  • brokerage and support planning
  • training in subjects such as health and safety, wellbeing and life skills
  • supporting families and young carers to apply for appropriate benefits
  • emergency planning support
  • whole family support
  • raising awareness and upskilling the workforce, including engagement with education, health and social care professionals
  • Young carers informing service development.

Where are young carer services located?

The Children's Society website has a map of young carers projects around the UK. Use the postcode, address or county search to zoom in to find local projects.

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Key Info

Who are young carers?

Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide unpaid care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersEmploymentSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:45
Body: 

Young carers are children and young people under 18 years old who provide unpaid care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances.

The tasks and level of caring undertaken by young carers can vary according to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of need for care and the structure of the family as a whole.

A young carer may undertake some or all of the following:

  • practical tasks such as cooking, housework, shopping
  • physical care such as lifting, helping up the stairs and physiotherapy
  • personal Care such as dressing, washing and helping someone go to the toilet
  • emotional support such as listening, calming someone and being present
  • household management such as paying the bills, managing finances and collecting benefits
  • looking after siblings such as putting to be and walking to school
  • interpreting for parents with hearing or speech impediments or English as an additional language
  • Administering medication such as insulin needles and preparing daily tablets.

How many young carers are there in the UK?

The 2011 census identifies over 200,000 young carers in the UK, but research by the BBC in 2010 indicates that there are as many as 700,000 young carers living in the UK.

Hidden carers

Carers remain hidden for many reasons including:

  • they do not realise that they are a carer or that their life is different to their peers
  • their parent’s do not realise that their children are carers
  • they worry that the family will be split up and taken into care
  • they don’t want to be any different from their peers
  • their parent’s condition is not obvious so people don’t think that they need any help
  • there has been no opportunity to share their story
  • They see no reason or positive actions occurring as a result of telling their story.

Why do young carers need your support?

Young carers often go unnoticed in their communities, but the negative impacts of caring on young people can be very real and enduring. If left unsupported young carers can take on responsibilities that will have a lasting effect on their health and wellbeing, friendships and life opportunities.

Many young carers experience issues with their:

  • physical health: often severely affected by caring through the night, repeatedly lifting a heavy adult, poor diet and lack of sleep
  • emotional wellbeing: stress, tiredness and mental ill-health are common for young carers
  • isolation: feeling different or isolated from their peers and with limited social opportunities
  • Lack of a stable environment: traumatic life changes such as bereavement, family break-up, losing income and housing, or seeing the effects of an illness or addiction.

The wider impacts of these effects can be felt on a young carer in their education, employment and their health and wellbeing.

Find out more

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Educational

The role of school nurses in supporting young carers

School nurses play an important role in identifying school aged young carers both in and out of education. Public health nurses can play an important role in identifying and supporting families where there may be a child or young person caring or who could become a carer.
Area of Care: 
Physical illnessPrimary Care
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHealth and wellbeingEducation
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 10:00
Body: 

The school nurse can play a key role in identifying young carers at an early stage, protecting their health and wellbeing and ensuring that they and their families are linked into and receiving further support from other services that they may need.

Supported by Carers Trust, several of its Network Partners and young adult carers involved in the Time to Be Heard campaign, the Department of Health have developed several strands of work for young carers:

Supporting the health and wellbeing of young carers

The Pathway Supporting the health and wellbeing of young carers is designed to support integrated working between the school nursing service, other public health nurses and partners in supporting young carers and their families. It sets out the rationale for effective partnership working recognising the need to offer support within a school and community context.

The pathway provides a model for a coordinated approach between school nursing, education, local authorities and young carers’ services, to ensure early identification of health and wellbeing needs and the provision of primary healthcare services to young carers and their families.

Young Carer School Nurse Champions

To complement the Pathway, school nurses across England are being trained to become Young Carer School Nurse Champions to give them a strong understanding of the pressures young carers face and how to ensure they receive the care they need.

On completion of the training, school nurses receive the Champion badge which will clearly identify to young carers those school nurses who have undergone training. To strengthen their role, a PDF iconSchool nurse champions charter has also been developed that sets out key messages and specific roles of a School Nurse Champion.

Work is also underway with the Department of Health to link up young carers’ services with their local school nurse.

School nurses community

Visit the Royal College of Nursing's School nurses' community website, that includes information about young carers in schools and "Meet the School Nurse Carer Champions".

Royal College of Nursing online learning resource

RCN Learning has a resource which aims to help school nurses and their teams to support young carers. It may also be of interest to children’s community nurses and health visitors.

Downloads: 
PDF icon School Nurse Champions Charter
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Guidance

Young Carers and Cultural Awareness

Young carers from some groups and communities may have particular needs and experience specific barriers to accessing and engaging with support.
Outcomes: 
PreventionIntegrationCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Carers servicesSocial careCommissioning
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 08:15
Body: 

According to the 2011 census young carers are 1.5 times more likely to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic families. This will partly be due to health inequalities experienced in different communities. These young carers and their families may have specific needs and face particular barriers to accessing support.

Needs and experiences of young carers and families from diverse communities

Young carers from some groups and communities may have particular needs and experience specific barriers to accessing and engaging with support including:

  • Less awareness of services or support available to them.
  • Hesitancy to involve services with their family.
  • Language barriers and children sometimes need supporting with translation for the person with care needs and the family.
  • Different cultural attitudes towards caring which may result in different expectations from family members including children, men and women.
  • Caring for others in the community outside the family may also be expected.

As a result some young people may be even less likely to recognise themselves as carers.

Embedding Cultural Inclusivity in developing services for young carers and families

It is vital that all local needs assessments involve research into diverse communities and reveal those young carers who may face stigma or are harder to reach  in order that appropriate specialised support is developed. Different communities should be consulted and involved in the planning and development of services in order to ensure that cultural inclusivity is embedded. Awareness raising of professionals, promotion of services and information for young people and families all need to be considered through a culturally aware lens.

Research by Carers UK shows that black, Asian and minority ethnic carers are particularly likely to make use of direct payments because they are able to buy more culturally sensitive services.

Practice examples

Supporting young carers from families affected by HIV

PDF iconAn inititative that works closely with families affected by HIV, as well as faith and community leaders, schools, local social services and GPs to provide all round support for young carers.

Supporting refugee young carers and their families

The refugee toolkit is for all practitioners, and was developed by The Children’s Society Family Health Inclusion Project. This practice resource is designed to enable all service providers to stay informed about the needs, rights and entitlements of refugee and asylum seeker young carers and their families and to carry out effective and appropriate signposting and joint working.

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Guidance

Young carers and bullying

Young carers are likely to be bullied more than their peers and it is common for them to be bullied because of their caring role.
Area of Care: 
Mental Health
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awareness
I work in: 
Health careMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesEducation
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Friday, November 25, 2016 - 08:15
Body: 

The Bullying Prevention Project (Young Carers)

The Bullying Prevention Project (Young Carers), one of Carers Trust’s Innovation Generation projects set out to raise awareness of and improve the understanding of the relationship between bullying and being a young carer, in order to remove barriers and improve environments that reduce the likelihood of young carers being bullied. A guide, a film and a training PowerPoint have been developed and are available from the project page as well as a short project evaluation.

Research 

It has been well evidenced in research that young carers experience heightened levels of bullying. PDF iconRecent research by the University of Nottingham and Carers Trust found that a quarter (26%) of young carers surveyed were bullied at school specifically because of their caring role.

This PDF iconechoed previous research by Carers Trust which found 68% of young carers in an online survey had experienced bullying. This inflated level of bullying of young people with caring responsibilities was also highlighted  in research by the National Centre for Social Research (2010) 

Potential reasons for bullying 

Young carers may experience bullying for a variety of reasons including:

  • They may find it harder to make and sustain friendships and a social life which means they appear unsociable.
  • They may have greater maturity than their peers (and might therefore be seen as different).
  • People may not understand the illness or disability experienced in the family.
  • They may be withdrawn or particularly sensitive at times.
  • They may have untidy or unclean clothing or general appearance.
  • Peers may make fun of them or of their family members who they care for.

Young carers need to be supported within their communities so that they are protected from bullying which can significantly impact on a young person’s health and wellbeing.

Further information

Read information about bullying and support on Carers Trust’s Young Carers website.

Other useful websites with information about bullying include KidscapeBeat Bullying and Young Minds.

Downloads: 
PDF icon Young Adult Carers at School - summaryPDF icon Young Adult Carers at School - full report
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Promotional

Triangle of Care Resources

Network Partners, carers’ organisations and mental health service providers can now promote the Triangle of Care to carers, professionals and service users with these specially designed leaflets and posters.
Area of Care: 
Mental Health
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersSocial careCommissioning
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Friday, April 29, 2016 - 13:15
Body: 

Leaflets and poster templates promoting Triangle of Care 

Network Partners, carers’ organisations and mental health service providers can now promote the Triangle of Care to carers, professionals and service users with these specially designed leaflets and posters. 

The leaflets and posters include:

These leaflets and posters can be downloaded and used locally as there is space for contact details and an organisation’s logo to promote the national messages of the Triangle of Care project.

In addition services who are implementing the Triangle of Care and are considering how to measure outcomes from implementation may benefit from the Outcomes Briefing which has been developed in consultation with all services who are currently working on the Triangle of Care in mental health.

FileMeasuring outcomes from the Triangle of Care

Triangle of Care Learning Event Presentations

Carers Trust's second learning event took place on 28 April 2016, bringing together mental health services, carers, Network Partners and third sector organisations to look at the progress Triangle of Care has made and how this can be sustained.

All the presenters have agreed to share their presentations and they can be found below.

FileGreater Manchester West Presentation One

Office presentation iconNorthumberland, Tyne & Wear Presentation Two

Office presentation iconSomerset Presentation Three

FileNorfolk & Suffolk Presentation Four

FileTriangle of Care in Education Presentation Five

FileLeeds & York Forensic Services Presentation Six

Carers Trust held a Triangle of Care Learning Event in May 2013 in Manchester. The event brought together statutory mental health providers, third sector organisations, Network Partners and carers to share good practice, learn more about implementing the Triangle of Care in their organisation and how to work in partnership to achieve implementation.

All the presenters and workshop leads, kindly agreed to share their presentations after the event. 

Further Information

The following documents have been created for the benefit of carers and professional service providers:

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Guidance

The Law for carers

The law relating to carers differs across the UK and covers a huge range of issues.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesCarers involvementInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersEmploymentSocial careEducationCommissioning
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 11:30
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Guidance

Welfare benefits

Details of where to go for advice on benefits for carers.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingCarer awareness
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceEmploymentSocial careEducation
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:30
Body: 

Many carers say that they are worse off financially once they become carers.

Although one of the key aims of any carers strategy will be to support carers in employment and training, giving access to high quality benefits advice is also crucial.

Just like any other person, carers may be entitled to a range of benefits, both means tested and situation based.

Benefits are complex and the advice given and ‘better off’ calculations should always be obtained from someone with relevant training and expertise – usually through a local authority benefits service, a CAB or other advice agency.

Further information

Carers UK has a freephone advice service - call 0808 808 7777,  Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 4.00pm.
    
For comprehensive information visit Carers Direct.

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Guidance

Supporting carers who want to participate

Carers involved in planning or training will appreciate having the chance to share their experiences with other carers or professionals involved with carers support. This can also help individual carers to have a less personal and more representative approach.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersEmploymentSocial careEducationCommissioning
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 08:00
Body: 

Just like other users, carers should be offered support to have a strong voice. This can be through:

  • language support (including for blind, deaf, deaf blind, hard of hearing)
  • accessibility of any venues
  • accessible websites.

Carers involved in planning or training will appreciate having the chance to share their experiences with other carers or professionals involved with carers support. This can also help individual carers to have a less personal and more representative approach.

This training can be facilitated through the carers centres and schemes or carers support organisation.

Hints and tips for including carers

Carers may need support to get involved. This should include:

Timing and location of meetings

These may need to be varied to meet the needs of all the carers. It may be easier for some carers in the middle of the working day and others may prefer weekends. The venue needs to be easily accessible by car or on public transport. Offer to reimburse travel expenses.

Alternative methods of having their say: not just using meetings and events

Try having a webcast for those who cannot attend, or at least a record up on your website so that carers can email comments or votes. Visit the good practice examples page to see for how one local authority did this.

Respite care

Some carers may need to make arrangements for the person they care for to be looked after while they are at the meeting. This will generally be charged for, so it is helpful to make it clear that you will reimburse the costs incurred.

Paying carers

A small fee recognising the expert contribution made by a carer is in line with arrangements made for service users who are consulted or used for training in similar circumstances.

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Guidance

Planning for good carer involvement

Involving carers is not just about consultation, and it is not about one way of doing things. Use a wide ranging approach so that carers can pick who they engage with to maximise the participation of a wide range of individuals.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHospitalsMental health careHealth and wellbeingCarers servicesCarers involvementCarers breaksInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersEmploymentSocial careEducationCommissioning
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 08:00
Body: 

Involving carers is not just about consultation, and it is not about one way of doing things.

Use a wide ranging approach so that carers can pick who they engage with to maximise the participation of a wide range of individuals.

Planning carer involvement

With commitment at a senior level it should be possible to:

  • Recognise carer participation as ‘core business’ and allocate a budget and other sufficient resources, like staff time to do it effectively.
  • Use local carers’ organisations, like carers centres and schemes to help you.
  • Include carers who may face multiple types of oppression in their wider lives, such as black, Asian and minority ethnic carers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender carers and carers of those who misuse alcohol and substances. Identify hidden carers to counteract this.
  • Inform and educate people about why they should get involved.

You could also:

  • Provide all the information that lay people need to participate on an equal footing with others.
  • Try to make all information clear and jargon-free.
  • Develop feedback mechanisms to ensure carer input makes a difference to service delivery.
  • Develop tools to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of carer participation; what works and what does not, what barriers are there.
  • Use the internet and email to involve carers who may not be able to get to events and meetings.

Engage and support carers

Finally, do not underestimate the time needed to fully engage and support carers and be prepared to repeat events to ensure as many carers as possible can participate. Many carers will sometimes have difficulties in keeping appointments.

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