Posted: 30 January 2020

Young Carers Awareness Day: Supporting young carers on the path to adulthood

Today is Young Carers Awareness Day – a day to recognise the thousands of young people who look after family members or friends.

Being a young carer can be extremely demanding. On top of everything their peers are dealing with – schoolwork, friendships, relationships – these young people having caring responsibilities which can bring added stress, worry and guilt.

The stress of a caring role can have a huge impact on a young carer’s future, especially as they transition into adulthood and support falls away.

‘My caring role stresses me out as it is, let alone trying to navigate jobs, uni, money and moving out' - young adult carer

Our Include service aims to ensure that these young people can follow their dreams and achieve their aspirations, despite their extra responsibilities. To mark Young Carers Awareness Day, the service is launching two new resources to address the issues young carers face on the path to adulthood. We spoke to Luella from Include to find out more.

What are these new resources and how have they been developed?

Today we’re launching two new resources – a pathway tool for practitioners who have contact with young carers and their families, and a guide for young carers thinking about their future.

The resources are part of a programme we were commissioned to deliver by the Department of Health and Social Care, which explores whether young carers and young adult carers are being offered transition assessments and support as they approach adulthood.

As part of the programme, we consulted 153 young adult carers as well as practitioners from a range of different services to produce a report (PDF) which highlighted gaps in service provision and gaps in young carers’ understanding of what they’re entitled to. The tools we’re launching today aim to fill these gaps.

Why is the pathway tool important?

Young carers often tell us they feel like they have to choose between their future aspirations or caring for their family.

This has a huge impact on them as they transition into adulthood. It can leave them feeling lonely, isolated and stressed. They often feel guilty for leaving the family home to go to university; on the other hand, they may stay at home and not pursue their goals.

‘I feel too guilty to leave my caring role and go to university. There is no one to look after brother and my mum has mental health issues' - young adult carer

Under the Care Act (2014) local authorities are responsible for ensuring young adult carers are offered a transition assessment to ensure that appropriate support plans are put in place. However, our research has shown that only 13% of young carers have had a transition assessment, with many local authorities not carrying out their duties, as well as young adult carers not understanding their entitlements.

To address this, we’ve developed this pathway tool (PDF) to ensure that anyone working with young carers and young adult carers is signposting young carers to support they’re entitled to, following lines of accountability, and responding to the needs of the whole family.

The tool has been designed for practitioners in adults’ and children’s services, schools and colleges, health services, housing providers and other statutory and voluntary sector agencies.

How will the guide help young carers?

If young carers don’t receive the right support and guidance as they approach adulthood, they can end up with little or no support when they reach 18. But many young carers aren’t aware of the assessments and support they’re entitled to.

This guide (PDF) outlines what is available to young carers. It will help them think about how they feel about becoming a young adult carer, the help and support that they may need, and what they should be able to access.

It also explores other issues they face and gives them space to reflect and write down any thoughts they have on this issue.

What do you hope the tools will achieve?

We want to ensure young carers receive timely support, assessments and follow-up, no matter which services they are accessing. We hope these new tools make sure the whole family is supported and enable more young carers to achieve their potential. 

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