Information for Parents & Professionals

Information for parents

If you have a son, daughter, or young person in your household who is helping to care for a family member then it is likely that they are a young carer and Spurgeons can support them in their role.

A young carer is defined as a child or young person who undertakes care for a parent, sibling, grandparent or other relative who is affected by:

  • A physical disability
  • Mental health condition
  • Learning disability
  • Life limiting condition
  • Sensory impairment
  • Misuses alcohol or drugs
  • Any other long term illness or condition

The type of care undertaken may include:

  • Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
  • Physical care, such as lifting, helping an adult on the stairs or to bed.
  • Personal care, such as dressing, washing, helping with toileting needs.
  • Managing the family budget, collecting benefits and prescriptions.
  • Administering medication.
  • Looking after or “parenting” younger siblings because their parent is too ill
  • Emotional support, such as listening to the cared for person and keeping them company

Young carers can be in any family and from any background. Sometimes it is not the amount of care given but the effects of caring.

Spurgeons are not here to judge you or your child, or tell you what to do. We understand the difficulties parents and carers experience because their child is helping to care for them or helping with the care of a sibling.

We are here to offer support and advice to enable your child to achieve and enjoy their life whilst managing their caring role.

You can self refer to your local Spurgeons Young Carer project. Details of how to refer will be included on the website page for your area.

Information for professionals

Many children and young people who are caring for someone in their family do not see themselves as young carers. Sometimes they have grown up with their caring role and it seems normal to them, for others it is because they do not want to be seen as different or singled out from their peers and stigmatised or judged.

Identifying young carers

Social workers and professionals within an education setting such as teachers or support staff have been widely recognised as the people who are potentially most likely to identify hidden young carers.

In school, young carers often present as mature for their age with no or few peer relationships.

Some indicators that a young person may be a young carer are:

  • They are often late or miss school for no apparent reason, often with parental permission
  • They may be underachieving at school or struggling to keep up with homework, often handing in work late or of poor quality
  • They can present as being tired or withdrawn or not want to talk about their home life
  • Have difficulty in taking part in after schools clubs or outside activities
  • Are often isolated from their peers or a victim or bullying
  • Express anxiety or concern over someone at home (the person they care for)
  • Have behavioural problems or have difficulty concentrating.

Teachers, tutors or support staff can help young carers and young adult carers self identify by checking if they are caring for a family member. These children and young people may be undertaking emotional or practical tasks within their families that involve supporting an adult or sibling, undertaking household tasks, shopping, dealing with finances, and looking after younger siblings because the person they care for is unable to. With support a young carer can achieve in school or college and fulfil their potential.

Professionals who work with adults with a disability or illness play an important role in supporting and identifying young carers by simply asking the adult they are working with if there is a child who is caring for them at home.

Referrals can then be made to the local Spurgeons Young Carer service.

Families can also self refer into the service.

Young adult carers aged 16/18 to 25 years

Many young people under the age of 25 years look after a family member at a time when their own adult lives are just beginning. This can put added pressure on that young person who may also be juggling work or studies with their caring role.

This can result in lateness, poor concentration, and problems with attendance. Many young adult carers don’t feel able to confide in their tutors, employers, colleagues and even friends for fear of being treated differently or experience discrimination.

Young adult carers can find that their caring role has a limiting effect on their relationships, financial circumstances, and life choices as their caring role can dominate their life. Often young adult carers want more support for the person they care for to take away the pressure of caring and allow them time, space and alleviate their worries.

This is where a Spurgeons Young Carer service can help.

Contact your local service for more details.