Young carers – advice for all
Young carers are children and young people who spend time looking after someone else – usually a family member who is mentally or physically ill or has some form of disability which means they need help.
Being a young carer forces the child or young person to take on much more responsibility than is normal for their age, and can cause a lot of worry and stress.
Impact on young people
Being a young carer can have a big impact when growing up:
- it can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence
- many young carers struggle to juggle their education and caring which can cause pressure and stress
- in a survey, 39% said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role
- 26% have been bullied at school because of their caring role
- 1 in 20 miss school because of their caring role.
Unfortunately, young carers frequently progress through life unidentified. Caring responsibilities can significantly impact upon a child’s health and development and many young carers experience:
- social isolation
- a low level of school attendance
- some educational difficulties
- impaired development of their identity and potential
- low self-esteem
- emotional and physical neglect
- conflict between loyalty to their family and their wish to have their own needs met.
Advice for practitioners
A referral should be made to children’s social care, where a young carer is:
- unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development because of their caring responsibilities
- at serious risk of harm through abuse or neglect
- providing intimate body care.
Unless there is reason to believe that it would put the child at risk of harm, young carers should be told if there is a need to make a referral, in order that their trust in a professional is retained.
Where a young carer is caring for another child, each individual child should be assessed, except if the child/ren are at risk of significant harm.
Practitioners can download the Manchester City Council Young Carers Strategy from their website at www.manchester.gov.uk/young_carers_strategy
Supporting good practice with young carers and their families
The Care Act 2014 and Children and Families Act 2014 (section 96) places expectations on children’s and adult social care to identify carers, assess their needs and provide support for this dedicated workforce.
Research in Practice (RiP) have brought together learning resources to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of professionals working with young carers and their families. This includes a Practice Tool on young carers and their families, highlighting common concerns and challenges, as well as recommended strategies to help build positive relationships.
Research in Practice for Adults has also updated a social work practice with carers website, providing open access case studies, films, guidance and tools to use in direct work. Commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and co-produced with carers, the learning resources aim to build the knowledge, skills and confidence of professionals working with both young and adult carers and their families.
Resources available to support good practice with young carers and their families include:
- Adolescent mental health: Frontline Briefing and Tool
- Defragmenting CAMHS – commissioning the children and young people’s mental health system
- Promoting resilience in children, young people and families: Front-line Briefing
- Social work practice with carers website (open access)
- Transitional safeguarding – adolescence to adulthood: Strategic Briefing
- Young carers and their families: Confident assessment practice.
Advice for young people
- Action for children website at www.actionforchildren.org.uk/supporting-young-carers
- Barnardo’s website at www.barnardos.org.uk/young_carers
- Carers Trust website at carers.org/help-advice
- Children’s Society website at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/youngcarer
- NHS Young Carers Rights website at www.nhs.uk/young-carers-rights
Friends of Young Carers, supported by Forever Manchester, aim to promote and protect the physical and mental health of young carers through the provision of holiday breaks, support, education and practical advice.
Find out more on their website at forevermanchester.com/friends-of-young-carers
Manchester Carers Centre – Young Adult Carers
Young adult carers are young people aged 16-25 who provide unwaged support to family or friends who could not manage without their help.
Manchester Carers Centre, an independent voluntary organisation, delivers a range of support services for unwaged carers in the City, including information and advice, emotional support, practical help, community drop-ins, breaks, social activities and access to grants and training.
Visit their website at www.manchestercarers.org.uk/young-adult-carers to find out more.