Support for young carers
Young carers are children and young people, aged 18 and under, who provide care, help or support to someone in their household who can't manage independently.
This would be on an on-going basis and may include physical, practical and/or emotional support. This may be due to a disability, long-term illness, mental ill-health or drug or alcohol dependency. It would also include supporting siblings if the parent or parents can't do the parenting role themselves.
Being a young carer
Caring for a family member can be very rewarding, but also hard work. Young carers often have to look after themselves too, and can find it difficult to keep up with school work, go out with friends and stay healthy.
Sometimes young carers feel different from other children and young people and can be very isolated. These things can have a big impact. Difficulties at school can affect grades and future career prospects.
Number of young carers in Aberdeenshire
The Carers Trust estimate there are over 100,000 young carers in Scotland - one in ten of the school age population. This suggests there may be over 3,000 young carers in Aberdeenshire. It's difficult to get accurate figures due to the hidden nature of caring. We believe there are likely to be young carers who haven't been identified in Aberdeenshire.
A caring role, if unsupported, can have a huge impact on your own health, both physically and mentally. For example you:
- may suffer from lack of sleep because you are up during the night
- may have a bad back from lifting and carrying
- might not be eating properly or getting out and about enough
- might find it difficult to concentrate and focus on things, particularly in school
- may find stress and anxiety can become an issue for you
Your doctor and school nurse or doctor are all available to help support you with your own health needs.
There is a Carers Point and Health Point in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary which can provide you with lots of help and advice, as well as links to other services for support.
Some young carers would benefit from more information about the health needs of the person they care for. Health professionals can help keep you informed.
Young carers also note lots of positive consequences from taking on a caring role, like helping you grow in confidence and developing important life skills.
Aberdeenshire Young Carers Support Service
Aberdeenshire Young Carers Support Service can help those young carers who are significantly affected by their caring role. Quarriers provide this service.
Information about this service, the support provided and how to contact the service is available on Quarriers website.
Assessment of a young carer’s needs
Young carers have a right to have their needs assessed and to be involved in planning to meet their needs.
‘Getting it right for every child and young person’(GIRFEC) is a national policy to help all children and young people grow, develop and reach their full potential. The Getting it Right for Every Child assessment model is what we use for assessing your needs and developing an action plan for support.
Support for young carers at school
Schools have an important role in identifying young carers and making sure they have the same learning opportunities as other pupils. Aberdeenshire schools have a guidelines document for supporting young carers in their school. This is part of the Aberdeenshire Young Carers Toolkit: “Help! I’m a young carer but who cares for me?”
This resource guides your school through the steps needed to support you as a young carer - from developing an understanding of your caring role, to implementing your own personal action plan of support, to building a healthy school environment where you can flourish.
If you think you are a young carer, you can talk to a class teacher you trust or to your guidance teacher or school nurse. Staff in school are there to help support you in your caring role and to help make sure you can fulfill your potential. They can also help to identify other sources of support which may benefit you like the Aberdeenshire Young Carers Support Service if appropriate.
Strategic planning support for carers
The Scottish Government is determined to make sure carers are supported to manage their caring responsibilities with confidence and in good health, and to have a life of their own outside of caring.
Getting it Right for young carers
The Scottish Government developed a national strategy for young carers - Getting it Right for Young Carers”: The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015.
Getting it Right for Young Carers will result in better outcomes for young carers and is first national young carers’ strategy in Europe. It recognises that many children and young people can benefit from providing care. But the focus is to make sure young carers are relieved of inappropriate caring roles and are supported to be children and young people first.
The Scottish Government are also currently processing a Carers Bill which was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 9 March 2015. The Bill will make sure better and more consistent support for carers and young carers so that they can continue to care, if they so wish, in better health and to have a life alongside caring.
Multi-agency strategy group
In Aberdeenshire, we have a multi-agency strategy group. This group is tasked with making sure we implement the national strategy locally and we work effectively, in partnership, to achieve the best results for our young carers.