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Children and young people’s mental health can be affected by their caring role, whether the condition of the person they care is related to physical health, mental health, an addiction or frailty in old age. 

The mental health of young carers, aged 17 or under

The evidence shows that young carers have worse mental health than their peers:

  • A survey of 348 young carers found 48% said being a young carer made them feel stressed and 44% said it made them feel tired. 
  • A survey of 61 young carers in school found that 38% had mental health problems. 
  • The 2011 Census showed that young carers providing 50+ hours of care a week were up to five times more likely to report their general health as ‘Not good’. 

NHS England, as part of its Commitment to Carers, has been working with Carers Trust and other key stakeholders to improve Carers experience of the NHS.  ‘Do We Look Like We Care?’ is a short film made with Young Carers from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire; this film was made following a number of events with Young Carers in which they talked about the need to raise awareness of what they do and in particular some of the challenges they face.  Many Young Carers described the impact that caring could have on their emotional well-being and in making this film they have shared some of the key things that they believe health and other support professionals can do to help them.

The mental health of young adult carers, aged 16-25 

Young adults with caring roles report higher rates of anxiety and depression. The GP Patient Survey finds that a third more young adult carers report anxiety or depression than other young people- 39% for young adult carers, in contrast with 28% of young people without caring responsibilities.  

A Carers Trust survey of young adult carers found that 45% reported mental health problems. 

Improving the mental health of young carers and young adult carers

The Time to be Heard campaign calls for better support for young adult carers and their families to address caring roles that have a negative impact on their health, including mental health. We are also calling for local plans to improve children’s mental health services, sometimes called Local Transformation Plans, to include measures that improve the mental health of young carers and young adult carers.

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Supporting Young Carers in School: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff

Designed with teachers and schools staff, this resource helps make the identification and support of young carers in schools as easy as possible.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Education
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Friday, February 24, 2017 - 13:15
Body: 
My caring role...sets me back and means I can't reach my potential.
Young carer

Welcome to Supporting Young Carers in Schools: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff. This resource has been written in association with teachers and school staff to help make the identification and support of young carers in schools as easy as possible.  

It forms part of the Young Carers in Schools programme, a free England wide initiative making it as easy as possible for schools to support young carers and awarding good practice. 

Together with the programme's free webinars, videos, case studies and the termly e-Newsletter , the Step-by-step Guide will help schools achieve the Young Carers in Schools Award. To start working towards an Award, please see our 5 key actions to getting involved.

Who is the Step-by-step Guide for?

The Step-by-step Guide is for use in secondary and primary schools in England but could be easily adapted for use in the rest of the UK.

What does the Step-by-step Guide offer your school? 

Identifying early means an improvement in achievement, attainment and wellbeing, if the right support is offered.
Young Carers School Operational Lead

Many schools are delivering exceptional practice, making a real and positive difference to the young carers they support. Other schools have told us they want to achieve these excellent outcomes, but don't know where to begin. This Step-by-step Guide sets out ten key steps to implementing effective identification and support for young carers in schools:

Like other aspects of school life, the development of effective support for young carers is reliant on regular reviews of current provision and the identification of areas for continual improvement.  The steps are therefore a cyclical process, which schools should engage with throughout the school year.  

Schools are perfectly placed to offer the support these children and young people need. The… Step-by-step Guide will act as an invaluable resource for schools in providing the right assistance to pupils as and when they need it.
Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister 

Making it as easy as possible for schools to support young carers

The Step-by-step Guide has been developed with teachers and school staff who understand the pressures that schools face to deliver the very wide range of demands placed upon them.  As a result it is designed to be as flexible and helpful as possible.

Each step is accompanied by key information and practical tools, which schools can use and adapt to suit their school structure and local circumstances.  

Not all schools will need to use all the tools included.  Some may find it more helpful to choose those that will help enhance the support they already offer to young carers and their families while other will want to simply start and build their activities over a number of years.  

Find out more

To find out more, and for a full list of the tools accompanying each step, download the PDF iconintroduction to the Step-by-step Guide. Other tools and resources that you may find useful are included in our helpful PDF iconadditional resourcesguide.

Let us know if you use the Step-by-step Guide

Your feedback about the Step-by-step Guide is invaluable to us.  It will steer any future resources we create and help ensure that our guidance and tools reflect the busy realities of school life and make the identification and support of young carers in schools as easy as possible.

If you have read or used any part of the Step-by-step Guide, and are happy to give us your feedback, please let us know by filling in this form.

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PDF icon Introduction PDF icon Taking manageable steps to identify hidden young carers - good practice example
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The Carers Star

The Carers Star is a holistic and collaborative tool, designed for use in services that support carers one-to-one over a period of time.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarers in employment
I work in: 
Carers services
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 14:00
Body: 

The Carers Star helps services to assess carers’ quality of life and identify the support they need to continue caring. It also supports services to capture and evidence outcomes for carers and to engage carers in the process of change. Part of the family of Outcomes Star tools, it’s a tried and tested framework to assist services and commissioners in supporting carers more effectively.

Carers Star™ copyright Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise Ltd

•    How it works
•    Supporting commissioners
•    Supporting services
•    Supporting carers
•    Tried, tested and recommended
•    Further information

How it works

The Carers Star is a holistic and collaborative tool, designed for use in services that support carers one to one over a period of time. It covers seven areas where carers often need support, including confidence in their caring role, balancing caring with work or time to relax, and finances.

Underpinning these scales is a ‘Journey of Change’ – five stages carers go through as they improve their lives, moving from ‘cause for concern’ up to ‘as good as it can be’. This gives a measure of progress, or distance travelled, and a set of manageable steps carers can take to become more independent.

Workers in services that support carers (both third sector and public sector) use the Star at assessment and subsequent reviews to find out where a carer is on their journey and to plan appropriate actions to help them move up each scale.

All workers using the Carers Star need appropriate training and support to realise the benefits described below for commissioners, services and carers.

 

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Supporting commissioners

The Carers Star helps local authority commissioners fulfil the requirements of the Care Act by providing a framework for effective assessment, action planning and review, combined with the ability to measure the impact of interventions in a way that is clear to everyone. It also supports services in undertaking preventative work with carers.

Star data is easily collated using the Star Online web application or other IT systems, so services can report on outcomes for carers, examining both the big picture and the detail. Reports cover the key outcomes of interest to commissioners, using a consistent format and facilitating learning across different services.

Because the Carers Star is an integral part of assessment, support, planning and review, it doesn’t divert valuable resources from direct work with carers, making it popular with both workers and the people they support. It can also help improve the quality and consistency of support provided. 

 

“Not only is this a useful tool for assessment and identification of needs, its use over time can demonstrate to commissioners that they are getting the right outcomes from the services they fund.” 
Department of Health Green Paper, 2009

Supporting services

Workers and carers like the Star because it is simple to use, highly visual, holistic and focused on the reality of carers’ lives. Because it is collaborative, carers are engaged in their own process, rather than assessment being something ‘done to them’.

The completed Star gives a clear picture of carers’ needs and where they are on their journey, and helps to break change down into manageable steps so that support is more effective and better targeted.

For service managers, the collated Star data provides information on carer outcomes to pinpoint good practice, gaps in provision or areas for improvement. Aggregated data can be used to compare services, and is also helpful in worker supervision.

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Supporting carers

Carers complete the Carers Star in collaboration with a worker and plot their scores on a visual of the Star, allowing them to see clearly where they are on their journey. The worker can then help the carer plan which areas to address and how.

At later meetings, worker and carer re-visit the Star and get a clear picture of the progress that has been made and identify any further support needs.

Tried, tested and recommended

The Carers Star was developed by Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise in collaboration with Carers Trust and other carers’ organisations. Carers Trust secured funding from the Triangle Trust 1949 to develop a subsidised programme to roll out the adoption of the Carers Star across the Network of Carers Organisations. Carers Trust has a team of regionally based Carers star trainers.

In 2014, 55 Carers Organisations were trained and are currently using the Carers Star with carers’ organisations up and down the country.

Outcomes Stars are widely used in the UK by voluntary organisations large and small, housing associations, NHS Foundation Trusts and local authorities, and have been backed by the Department of Health, the Big Lottery, NESTA, the National Social Inclusion Programme, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the London Housing Foundation, Homeless Link and the Mental Health Providers Forum, among others.

International interest in the Outcomes Star is also growing and it is used in several countries around the world. 

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Further information

The Outcomes Star™ is a family of tools for supporting and measuring change when working with people. For more information, see www.outcomesstar.org.uk or email info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or call 020 7272 8765.

Carers Trust is a key collaborator on the Carers Star. For more information about our roll out programme please contact Moira Wilkinson on star@carers.org or call 07773 047998. 

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Supporting Young Carers and their Families: Examples of Practice

The Department for Education funded Carers Trust between 2010 and 2012 to build a collection of practice examples to support those who commission or develop services.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careCommissioning
I work with: 
Young carersSibling carersFamilies
Caring for: 
AdultsOlder adultsYoung peopleChildren
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 09:30
Body: 

Son and mother

The Department for Education funded Carers Trust between 2010 and 2012 to build a collection of practice examples to support those who commission or develop services.

Use these examples to think about how to deliver creative and effective services for young carers and their families.

Each practice example covers the aims and objectives of the initiative, how it was funded and delivered, what was particularly effective and any challenges. Every example provides tips to get you started and contact details if you would like more information on that particular project.

Examples of practice

We have grouped the examples of practice into themes to guide your search:

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Whole family approaches

Young carers exist because someone in their family network requires their support. Caring for a family member or friend can be a positive experience for a young person which can strengthen family relationships and build a young person’s life skills and maturity.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careEducationCommissioning
I work with: 
Families
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:15
Body: 

Family looking at photo album

Why is whole family working important?

Young carers exist because someone in their family network requires their support. Caring for a family member or friend can be a positive experience for a young person which can strengthen family relationships and build a young person’s life skills and maturity. However, children must not be relied on to take on inappropriate or excessive caring roles that impact on their health, wellbeing, development or life opportunities.

Many young carers are providing caring roles that negatively impact on their own lives. Whole family working is essential to identify young carers early, address the root causes of why any child is undertaking a caring role and ensure the family have the right support in place.

What is whole family working for young carers?

Whole family working involves understanding and addressing the needs of the family as a whole.

This means:

  • considering the impact of an individual’s additional needs on the rest of their family
  • Addressing a child’s needs within the context of their family, instead of in isolation.

Evidence in practice highlights the particular benefits of supporting a young carer in the context of their family. By addressing the reasons why a young person is caring and providing support to the person who needs care and support and the wider family, the role and well-being of the young carer can be significantly changed.

In England, The Care Act 2014 enshrines in law the importance of a whole family approach as an effective way to understand and address the needs of an individual in the context of their family. See what the Care Act Says about whole family approaches and young carers in England.

What constitutes a ‘whole family approach’?

There are a number of different components that make a ‘whole family approach’ including:

  • whole family assessments   
  • support for adults and other family members within the family, such as parenting support; provision of practical and emotional support
  • building support networks including engaging the wider family through for example, family group conferences
  • relationship building within the family, such as support with building roles, routines and responsibilities and engaging families in positive activities (such as planning a menu, cooking together or a family picnic).

Get tips on how to start whole family working with our Whole Family Practice examples

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Young carers and their education

Young carers are a particularly vulnerable group of pupils, specifically mentioned in Ofsted’s evaluation inspection schedule.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carersCarers in employment
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careEducation
I work with: 
Young adult carersYoung carers
Location: 
Whole UK
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 16:30
Body: 

Open book and pen.

Young Carers’ experiences in education

Young carers are a particularly vulnerable group of pupils, specifically mentioned in Ofsted’s evaluation inspection schedule.  Often, these children are caring for relatives without their teachers’ knowledge, yet if unidentified and unsupported, their caring roles can seriously affect their future wellbeing, life chances and levels of aspiration. 

Research shows that:

  • Around one in 20 young carers miss school because of their caring responsibilities, affecting not just their education but their chances of longer term employment.
  • They have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers (i.e. the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s).
  • They are more likely than the national average not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19, which reduces their future life chances.
  • Although young carers need extra support, they are no more likely find it from statutory agencies than other children.
  • A quarter of young carers said they were bullied at school because of their caring role. Only half had received additional support from a member of school staff.

Source: 1-4 Hidden from View: the experiences of young carers in England (The Children’s Society 2013) / 5 Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust 2013).

Young Adult Carers at transition

Transitions from school are particularly complex and challenging for young adult carers.  Research shows that:

  • Around 1 in 5 young adult carers become NEET when they leave school.
  • Over half of young adult carers at college or university said they experienced difficulties because of their caring role and 16% were concerned they might have to drop out.
  • Less than half of young adult carers thought they had received good careers advice and only 19% though that it took their caring role into account.
  • Over three quarters of young adult carers at college or university had communicated their caring role to their college or university but nearly half still felt there was no one there who recognised them as a carer and helped them.

Source: 1 Young Adult Carers and Employment (Carers Trust 2014) / 2 & 4 Young Adult Carers at College and University (Carers Trust 2014) / 3 Young Adult Carers at School: Experiences and Perceptions of Caring and Education (Carers Trust 2013). 

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Young Carers and School

Young carers are a vulnerable and disadvantaged group, who often experience difficulties in their education.
Outcomes: 
PreventionWellbeingIntegrationHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careCarers servicesSocial careEducation
I work with: 
Young carers
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Friday, January 30, 2015 - 11:00
Body: 

Why do young carers need support from school?  

Young carers are a vulnerable and disadvantaged group, who often experience difficulties in their education. Without support, they can struggle to attend school and make good progress and a quarter of young carers have said they are bullied because of their caring role

Identifying and supporting young carers is an effective way of improving the attainment and attendance of this pupil group; who are specifically mentioned in Ofsted’s evaluation inspection schedule and frequently eligible for free school meals and pupil premium funding.

Will there be young carers in all schools?

It is likely that there will be young carers at every school in England:

  • A survey by the BBC in 2010 estimated that about 1 in 12 secondary aged pupils have caring responsibilities.
  • The number of 5-7 year olds providing care increased by 83% between 2001 and 2011.
  • 39% of young carers have said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role (Carers Trust, 2010).
"Schools have a key role in identifying and supporting all young carers.…. Ofsted take particular interest in the experiences of more vulnerable children, including young carers, during inspections."
Edward Timpson, the Minister for Children and Families, October 2012

What support is available to schools?

Young Carers in Schools is an exciting England-wide programme that equips schools to support young carers and awards effective practice. Led by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society's Young Carers in Focus partnership, this programme has been developed with teachers and school staff to make it as easy as possible for schools to support young carers and rewards good practice. It is funded by The Queen’s Trust and the Big Lottery Fund.

The programme is open to all schools in England and to sign up, schools just need to register online

By taking part, schools can show that they are meeting the needs of a particularly vulnerable group of pupils (specifically mentioned in Ofsted’s School Inspection Handbook) and access:

Supporting Young Carers in Schools: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff

Written in association with teachers and school staff, who understand the pressures that schools face to deliver the very wide range of demands placed upon them, this Step-by-step Guide helps you step-by-step and includes templates, tools and guidance.

Expert regional networks 

Bringing together schools, young carer services, and health and social care professionals for peer-to-peer learning and training. Opportunities will be available online and face-to-face to make sure everyone can get the best from these networks. 

Young Carers in Schools Award

Schools can provide evidence to showcase how they adhere to five Young Carers’ Standards created by young carers and apply online for a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. This will enable schools to gain recognition from several leading charities for their effective practice. 

Young Carers in Schools: Information for schools and those working with them

Sign up today to receive this termly enewsletter which will highlight relevant policy developments, spotlight good practice and give updates on the programme’s successes.  Additional Resources

Supporting Young Carers: A resource for schools (Archive)

PDF iconSupporting young carers: a resource for schools
An extended resource for schools. This resource was developed in 2010 in partnership with The Children’s Society: Phelps, D, Leadbitter H, Manzi, D (2010), Supporting Young Carers: A Resource for Schools (The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and The Children’s Society) (Archive)

Supporting Young Carers in Schools: An Introduction for Primary and Secondary School Staff

PDF iconsupporting young carers in schools
An introductory resource helping schools to set up systems to identify and support pupils who are young carers.

Pupil Premium: Support for Young Carers - primary school resource and secondary school resource

PDF iconpupil premium - primary school resource
Guidance showing how targeted use of the Pupil Premium can support pupils with caring responsibilities.

 

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PDF icon Pupil Premium: Support for Young Carers - primary school resourcePDF icon Pupil Premium: Support for Young Carers – secondary school resource
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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
Main Image: 
Man with carer.
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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Who was involved in the Carer Friendly Pharmacy pilot?

The Carer-friendly Pharmacy Pilot could not have taken place without the good will and support of PSNC, CPPE, local carers organisations, Local Pharmaceutical Committees and local community pharmacies..
Area of Care: 
Primary Care
Outcomes: 
WellbeingHealth inequalitiesCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health carePrimary careHealth and wellbeingPharmacy ServicesCarers servicesSocial careCommissioning
Location: 
England
Date Revised: 
Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 14:15
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Preventing Crisis for Carers

Preventing Crisis for Carers was a joint project between Carers Trust Scotland, local carers’ centres, and health and social care professionals.
Area of Care: 
Secondary CareAcute Care
Outcomes: 
PreventionCarer awarenessIdentifying carers
I work in: 
Health careHospitals
I work with: 
Adult carers
Caring for: 
AdultsOlder adults
Location: 
Scotland
Date Revised: 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:15
Body: 

Preventing Crisis for Carers (The Moffat Project)

With funding from the Moffat Trust, Preventing Crisis for Carers was a joint project between Carers Trust Scotland, local carers’ centres, and health and social care professionals. 

The programme concluded in June 2010 and aimed to: 

  • get support for carers at an early stage
  • advise carers of their rights and offer them a carer’s assessment
  • reduce the pressure on carers’ own health
  • get carers involved in discharge planning
  • train health and social care professionals in carer awareness.

Named after the Moffat Charitable Trust which supplied the funding for the initiative, the project placed carer support workers into hospitals and social work departments. Workers helped identify new carers, directed them to sources of support and trained health care professionals in carer awareness.

What was the Programme about?

The overall programme was made up of four individual pilot projects operating in four NHS board areas in Scotland. Each pilot site used the knowledge and experience of carer organisations, which were part of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (now Carers Trust Scotland) Network, and promoted partnership work between the local carers' centres, health and social care professionals to identify carers early on in their caring role. 

The good ways of working and protocols developed by the programme aimed to ensure that all carers who came into contact with health were:

  • identified as carers
  • signposted to local advice
  • made aware of their rights and could access appropriate support to help them with their caring responsibilities.

The Pilot Sites

The four NHS board areas covered by the Moffat pilots were NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian. Local carers' centres led the pilot work in partnership with local health and social care professionals.

What happened?

As a result of the programme almost 3,000 new carers were identified and more than 3,500 health and social care professionals were trained in carer awareness. 

An independent evaluation of the project by Glasgow Caledonian University found that the Crisis Prevention Programme resulted in many improvements in hospitals: 

  • professionals were more likely to identify carers at an early stage and put support for them in place at an earlier stage
  • there were changes to ways of working which benefited carers
  • carers reported feeling that professionals had more recognition of their expertise in caring and understood their needs as a carer
  • carers felt more able to have a say in shaping the services they, or the person they cared for, received 
  • carers were provided with more information ,such as being told of their right to a carer’s assessment.

The evaluation recommended that funding for carer support workers in hospitals continues and that carer awareness training should be mandatory for all healthcare professionals.

Read the PDF iconfinal evaluation report, or a PDF iconsummary of the report.  

Some of the people involved in the Moffat Project (health professionals, carers’ centre staff and volunteers) talk about their experiences in an audio podcast.

Further Developments

For more information on developments please contact Carers Trust Scotland on scotland@carers.org or phone 0300 123 2008.

Equal Partners in Care

A further development has been Equal Partners in Care (EPiC).  This is a joint project between NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to implement the workforce education and learning elements of Caring Together 2010-15, the Carers Strategy for Scotland.

It aims to support workers from health, social services and other sectors to work in partnership with carers and young carers, and to achieve better outcomes for all involved in the caring relationship. The aim is to do this by providing learning resources to help best practice become universal practice.

View the Equal Partners in Care website.

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PDF icon Preventing Crisis for Carers - full report
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