Young carers: How can we help as professionals

Young carers play a very important role in our society, helping and supporting members of their family who may need them to help them in some way physically and/or emotionally.

They often go unnoticed and don’t get the help and support that they need.

Many professionals will come into contact with young carers on a regular basis. This may be more relevant for those working in education, health or social care. In our role as front line clinicians, attending adults or children with an illness or a disability, we are in a good position to recognise a child or young person who may be a young carer and ensure the correct support is put in place. Call handlers may identify a young carer when taking a call from a young person in respect of a relative.

It isn’t always obvious when a child or young person is caring for someone, many will actively try to conceal their caring role, with often, only extreme cases being brought to the attention of the relevant services.

It is vital that we are able to identify and offer support at an early stage - without identification and support, the responsibilities placed on these young people can significantly impact upon their health and development.

Who are young carers?

Young carers are children and young people from the age of 5 to 18 who care for a parent or relative at home who is ill, has a physical or learning disability, has a sensory impairment, or is affected by drug or alcohol misuse.

The level of care they undertake would usually be carried out by an adult and therefore, it has a significant impact on their childhood.

Whilst other children and young people are out playing and having fun with their friends, young carers maybe at home, helping members of their family who are unable to do certain things for themselves. They look after parents, brothers, sisters, even grandparents. With so much to do, young carers can miss out on their childhood.

At school, they can fall behind on their homework, be too tired to concentrate in class or sometimes, they may be bullied for being different. Young carers are just the same as any other child or young person, it’s just that they have extra responsibilities. These responsibilities can have both positive and negative impacts on their lives.

Read more about the role young carers play, and how we can help them as professionals, here

Published 16th December 2019

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