Carers in employment

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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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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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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.

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Key Info

What rights do young adult carers have in England?

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.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Young adult carers
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:15
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. This means that young adult carers have rights as children, as adults and as young adult carers planning for adulthood.

What new rights do young adult carers have when planning for adulthood?

The Care Act 2014, which comes into force in April 2015, significantly strengthens the rights of young adult carers as they move into adulthood.

The draft regulations and guidance, which have been out for public consultation, propose strong support arrangements for young adult carers as they prepare for adulthood regardless of what support they already receive.  The final regulations and guidance will be published in October 2014 and may be altered.

Guidance on supporting young adult carers include that:

  • Local authorities should consider how to identify children who are not receiving children’s services, including developing mechanisms with local education providers and health services.
  • Local authorities must carry out a transition assessment if a young carer may have needs for care or support when they turn 18. These assessments can also be requested.
  • Transition assessments and planning should consider how to support young carers to prepare for adulthood and raise and fulfil their aspirations, including key milestones for achieving their outcomes. For example, where a young person or carer wishes to attend a higher or further education institution, local authorities should help them identify a suitable institution as part of transition planning.
  • Local authorities must cooperate with relevant partners, including GP practices, housing and educational providers and this duty is reciprocal.

See the Department of Health website for more information on the regulations and guidance.

Find out more about the government’s National Strategy for Carers.

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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

National Carers Strategy

This page gives details of the objectives and key issues of The Carers’ Strategy, which was published in 2008, and refreshed in 2010.
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
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 11:00
Body: 

Carers’ Strategy (England) 2008-2018, refreshed 2010

The National Carers’ Strategy published in 2008 set five outcomes to be achieved by 2018, so that carers will be:

  • recognised and supported as an expert care partner
  • enjoying a life outside caring
  • not financially disadvantaged
  • mentally and physically well, treated with dignity
  • children will be thriving, protected from inappropriate caring roles.

In order to achieve these outcomes, the strategy suggests that strategic planning must be carer-led, that services should actively identify and include carers, and that commissioning should take a whole-area approach.

The Coalition Government refreshed this strategy in 2010 retaining these aims but inserting four priority areas:

  1. Supporting early self-identification and involvement in local care planning and individual care planning.
  2. Enabling carers to fulfill their educational and employment potential.
  3. Personalised support for carers and those receiving care.
  4. Support carers to remain healthy.

Acting on these priorities to achieve the five outcomes is the overall goal of the refreshed National Carers’ Strategy and the basis for successful commissioning of services. 

For more information about how these outcomes and priorities originated and the long-term plans to achieve them, read Recognised, Valued and Supported: Next Steps for the Carers' Strategy and the original strategy document, Carers at the Heart of 21st Century Families and Communities.

Details of how to assess the services in a particular area in relation to the Carers' Strategy can be found in Commissioning for Carers: an Action Guide for Decision-Makers and Commissioning Better Outcomes for Carers

Strategy for Carers in Scotland 1999

The Strategy for Carers in Scotland 1999 provides the basic template for the local Council strategies that they are required to publish on a regular basis. There are local variations to these documents. 

National Carers Strategy (Wales) 2000

Reviewed each year with an action plan, this is currently being reviewed in the light of the National Carers Strategy (England) 2008.

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Guidance

The purpose of a carers assessment

Having their own assessment allows the carer to meet with a social worker or health worker to look at what help they need to support them as a carer, find out what help and support may be available and make a decision about the future.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesCarers involvementInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersSocial careCommissioning
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:30
Body: 

Having their own assessment allows the carer to meet with a social worker or health worker to:

  • look at what help they need to support them as a carer
  • find out what help and support may be available
  • make a decision about the future.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a carer's assessment under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 they must:

  • be looking after, or intending to look after, someone who may have community care needs (even if that person has not had a community care assessment or isn’t receiving any services) and
  • be providing, or intending to provide, a substantial amount of care on a regular basis.

Note that “regular” could mean once a day or once a month. “Substantial” does not have a definition in the law, this is deliberate, because how substantial a caring role is felt to be depends on the carer’s personal circumstances, such as whether or not they are working and how physically able they are. 

It is important to remember that the carer’s needs may not match those of the person they care for; for example, someone using community care services who has moderate needs may have a carer who is experiencing critical need.

Don’t forget: A carer’s assessment under carers’ legislation should be seen as part of the overall support process - it is not an end in itself!

What’s important to carers?

Carers Trust worked with Skills for Care to find out what matters to carers in carers assessments. Read the report - Carers assessments: Workforce development opportunities based on carers experiences

Key things that matter to carers include:

  • Understanding what the purpose and process of an assessment is.
  • Receiving follow up about what will happen next.
  • The assessor having good local knowledge of services and support.
  • Listening properly to what the carer is saying.
  • Being respectful of the carers time – not cancelling at the last minute or being late, as they will often have to make arrangements to be able to attend the assessment.
  • Taking account of everyone who cares – families are complex, so don’t assume there is one carer and one person who is being cared for. Be aware of possible young carers. 

Carers Trust also worked with Skills for care to develop a free e-learning module and other resources for staff. These are available on the Skills for Care website

Combining assessments

It is possible to combine assessments so that the care assessment for the disabled or older person and the carers assessment can take place at the same time. Obviously, this means less staff time is spent and so can seem cost effective. 

However although some people will welcome this, for others it may mean they don’t feel able to fully express their feelings and wishes. It is vital that where combined assessments are being considered, this is the informed choice of the carer and the person with care needs. 

Self assessments

Some local authorities offer self assessments. Where a carer’s needs are relatively simple and they are settled within their caring role, this may be appropriate.

However many carers do not find self assessments very effective - perhaps because they find it hard to prioritise it, because they do not know what is available or what to ask for. It also does not provide the positive interaction and feeling of being valued and heard which a face to face assessment can offer. 

Carers Assessments under the Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 removes the need for carers to be undertaking “regular and substantial” care in order to have a right to an assessment.

The new provisions come into force in April 2015 and guidance is currently being consulted upon. You can view the draft guidance online

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Carers assessments

Different kinds of carers assessments are often carried out by or on behalf of different agencies – for example, local authorities, the NHS, and local carers organisations.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesCarers involvementInformation and adviceCommissioning for carersCommissioning for young carersSocial careCommissioning
I work with: 
Adult carers
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 11:30
Body: 

What kind of carers assessment?

Different kinds of carers assessments are often carried out by or on behalf of different agencies – for example, local authorities, the NHS, and local carers organisations. 

The information below and on the purpose of a carers assessment page relates to carers assessments carried out as a statutory responsibility of the local authority. Sometimes these are carried out by another organisation (such as a carers centre) on behalf of the local authority.

Currently adult carers have rights to an assessment under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. In April 2015, the Care Act 2014 will come into force which will change the way in which carers assessments need to be offered and provided.

Functions of carers assessment

A carers assessment performs two functions: firstly it is a gateway to support provided by a local authority, and secondly it is an opportunity for a carer to express whether they wish to continue caring, how their life is, and what would help them.  

If it is done well, it can also be a positive intervention in its own right, with carers feeling they have been listened to and valued, and that they know who to contact if they need help in the future. 

All professionals who are in contact with any carer, or who meet new carers, should ensure that they are given the option to have this formal opportunity to talk about their needs. This is a statutory obligation for social care and other council staff.

Currently under the law, a carer needs to be undertaking “regular and substantial caring” and needs to request an assessment in order to have a right to an assessment. This was problematic as the definitions of “regular” and “substantial” were unclear. Under the Care Act 2014, all carers should be offered an assessment, based on the appearance that they have a need for support. 

Carers who refuse an assessment

If a carer says they do not want an assessment, it is a good idea to find out why. It may be that they cannot see the point, do not understand what is on offer, or don’t feel comfortable talking about their needs (as opposed to those of the person they care for). 

Often, carers worry about having an “assessment” and fear that they are being assessed as to whether they are a “good enough” carer. It is important to explain the purpose of an assessment and that they might be able to get support as a result. 

It is also important to explain what the assessment is for in order to enable to carer to think about it in advance.

Further information

The purpose of a carers assessment

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Guidance

Scottish Government Guidance

"Getting It right for Young Carers" is the Scottish Government’s strategy to support young carers and young adult carers.
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
I work with: 
Young adult carersYoung carers
Caring for: 
Adults
Location: 
Scotland
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:30
Body: 

Scottish Government – national strategy

Getting It right for Young Carers is Scottish Government’s strategy to support young carers and young adult carers from 2010 until 2015. 

The strategy comprises 46 action points involving professionals across health, education and social services as well as Skills Development Scotland and other voluntary sector services.

It is the vision of Scottish Government that by 2015, increasing numbers of young carers will be effectively identified and supported by statutory and Third Sector services using the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach.  This will include the provision of an assessment, information and advice and a range of supports.  These will combine to relieve young carers of inappropriate caring roles, to promote their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and enable them to be children and young people first and foremost.  

The vision also means that young carers will:

  • have their rights respected and promoted
  • be treated at all times with respect and dignity
  • be treated as individuals and have any particular or special needs recognised
  • be relieved of inappropriate caring roles and able to enjoy their childhood
  • have a life outside of their caring role
  • be supported to stay physically and mentally well
  • be informed through having access to information, advice and support
  • be involved and empowered in making age appropriate contribution to caring.

Read Getting It Right For Young Carers: The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland: 2010 - 2015 Summary on the Scottish Government website.

Carers Legislation

The first stage of consultation began around proposals for legislation for carers and young carers in January 2014.  The proposals include that:

  • Carers assessments will be renamed carer support plans to describe them more effectively and to encourage uptake.
  • Young carers should have their wellbeing assessed within the GIRFEC framework and with consideration being given as to whether they require a Child’s Plan under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
  • Young carers who are expected to continue their caring role beyond the age of 18 should have planning processes for their carers support plan begin well in  advance of their 18th birthday to ease transition to adult services.

A full copy of the proposals can be read on the Scottish Government website

Carers Trust and the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance will be consulting with carers and young carers to respond to each stage of consultation through to legislation.

Further information

Further information and resources on issues concerning young people in Scotland, including information on policy and research, are available on the Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People website.

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