Young Carers Awareness Day – Thursday 31st January
All around us, in everyday life, we see children – in the supermarkets, in the playground, sitting in cars to and from school – but have you ever given a thought about the children you see and if they are a young carer?
Some children aren’t able to enjoy a ‘normal childhood’ that many children take for granted because they are caring for someone. A young carer is a child and/or adolescent under 18 who helps to look after someone in their family who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. They can also help look after a family
What Do Young Carers Do?
Every day there are tasks, chores and activities that as adults we have to do for ourselves, and for our family, that we don’t think twice about. These are the exact same tasks that a young carer will carry out:
- Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping
- Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed or assisting with home-based physio exercises
- Emotional support, such as talking to someone who is distressed or comforting a loved one
- Personal care, such as helping someone dress, use the toilet and have a bath
- Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions
- Helping to give medicine
- Helping someone communicate if they are non-verbal
- Looking after brothers and sisters
How are Young Carers Impacted?
With so many adult responsibilities, young carers often miss out on opportunities that other children have to play and learn. Many young carers struggle educationally and are often bullied for being ‘different’. They can become isolated, with no relief from the pressures at home.
- It can affect a young person’s health, social life, self-esteem and self-confidence
- Feeling embarrassed about their situation
- 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
- Constantly stressed and physically tired by too much responsibility
- Continually worried about a relative’s health
- Concerned over their long-term future
Rights for Young Carers
The rights of young carer are generally assessed under the Children Act 1989 and the Children and Families Act 2014.
If there is an adult being looked after, then the local council has a duty to consider whether there are any children involved in providing care, and if so, what the impact is on that child.
The local council have a duty to assess ‘on the appearance of need’ (i.e. without a ‘request’ having to be made). They also have a more general duty to ‘take reasonable steps’ to identify young carers in their area.
There are also several benefits and allowances that the young carer may be eligible for, such as a Carers Allowance. See MyLiferaft Resources on where to get information on this.
MyLiferaft Supporting Young Carers
There is so much involved in caring for a loved one and when we designed the MyLiferaft online application, we knew it was key for both carers and those they care for to have the ability to track their care, health and well-being in a safe, secure manner.
With a MyLiferaft account, you can capture important details about; care, health, social, well-being and education using forms and trackers. You can share this information with all those within a care circle – other family members, medical personnel, therapists etc – which ensures everyone is kept up-up-to date and support can be provided in a consistent way. This is all done online and securely which results in less repetition in communicating changes about an individual’s needs. Knowing others can easily be given the right information, by sharing, to step in to give a helping hand can give a young carer confidence in taking a break or asking for help. Also, if a young carer is having an assessment the assessor can be given access to help them understand the role that the young carer has.
YOU have the flexibility to choose the MyLiferaft account that works best for YOU and YOUR family. Choose from either the standard account which is free or the fee based Premium account which gives you unlimited access to Trackers, Reports and Goals as well as the ability to share the information with as many people as you wish.
There are many different organisations offering help, support and advice to young carers on all aspects of their lives: help with schooling, applying for benefits, offering someone to talk to and directing them to services in their local area that can offer ‘hands on’ support. Below are several of the organisations that we have found that can offer all of the above and more. You can find even more in the Young Carers section in the MyLiferaft Resources on our website.
Carers Trust – Carers Trust believes in a world where the role and contribution of unpaid carers is recognised and they have access to the quality support and services they need to live their own lives.
Carers UK – Making lives better for carers.
NHS – Support and advice from the NHS for Young Carers.
Young Minds – As a young carer you can find helping someone very rewarding, but you also have the right to be looked after. Find out what young carers do, how to spot if it’s getting too much and what to do about it.
Barnardos – All children deserve a childhood.