Raising Awareness of Young Carers / Young Adult Carers
23 November 2023 | Fiona Rogers QN and Tom Smith
From local places to national arenas, it is essential to include the lived experience of Young Carers / Young Adult Carers in service planning, delivery and evaluation.
Carers Rights Day is an annual event to raise awareness of caring, helping to identify carers and signposting carers to information, advice, and support. This year, Carers Rights Day follows the recent publication of the first ever Parliamentary Inquiry on Young and Young Adult Carers.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Young Carers and Young Adult Carers started the Inquiry into the Life Opportunities of Young and Young Adult Carers around six months ago. The report of the Inquiry reveals:
- Young Carers miss an average of 27 school days per academic year.
- Young Adult Carers are 38% less likely to achieve a university degree than their peers without a caring role.
- Young People with a caring role have a higher prevalence of self-harm (25%) than non-carers (17%).
- 40% Young Carers and Young Adult Carers always or usually affects how much time they can spend with their friends.
- It takes an average of three years for young carers to access support but can be as long as 10 years to be identified – access to support is a postcode lottery.
Read more about the Inquiry and its findings: APPG on Young Carers and Young Adult Carers – Inquiry into life opportunities – Carers Trust.
The impact of being a young carer is far reaching and there are opportunities for community nurses to be the person who identifies a young carer. Nurses are key stakeholders, who must be involved to help enact the recommendations of the report.Fiona Rogers Queen's Nurse
A conversation with Fiona and Tom
Fiona Rogers is a QNI Nursing Programme Manager (Innovation) with 15 years’ experience working with Young Carers. Tom Smith is a Young Adult Carer – he has been a Carer for 15 years. Fiona says, ‘I was invited to attend the launch of the Report at the House of Lords and was fortunate to be able to secure an additional invitation for Tom, who is from Wakefield, West Yorkshire.’
How do you know each other?
Tom: I have supported Fiona over the years on many projects when she was in West Yorkshire ICB, including Carers Rights Day and Young Carers Action Day.
Fiona: I was introduced to Tom as a Young Adult Carer who wanted to be involved in the Young Carers Programme in West Yorks. When I moved to the QNI, Tom offered to continue to support me in my new national role.
Why are you passionate about Young Carers / Young Adult Carers Agenda and here today?
Tom: I have been a carer for 15 years and an activist for a long time. I want to see if the report aligns with my experience being a carer for 15 years.
Fiona: The Young Carers agenda is important to me; the impact of being a young carer is far reaching and there are opportunities for community nurses to be the person who identifies a young carer. Nurses are key stakeholders, who must be involved to help enact the recommendations of the report.
What was your experience of the day?
Tom: It was a long day, beginning at home prepping everything, travelling 4 hours and a wait in a security queue. We had afternoon tea – a ‘fancy affair’ in a conservatory overlooking the Thames, sitting next to the Chairman of the Education Select Committee, and we spoke about my life as a carer, the report and what happens next.
Fiona: This was my first experience of going to Westminster. It was important to be there as a nurse representing the QNI, demonstrating commitment to Young Carers, also with Tom who had contributed to the report and knowing how much it meant to him to be there. I seized the opportunity to speak directly to influential stakeholders, although Tom described it as ‘a grilling’!
What are your hopes for the future?
Tom: I have read the report and agree with the findings, but there’s more to add. Hopefully it will progress and inspire other young carers to take on the mantle.
Fiona: I hope the report is shared widely, well read, and there is collective coordinated action across the System.
Our key takeaway from the event is that Identification is key. Whether a General Practice Nurse, District Nurse, School Nurse, Health Visitor, Sexual Health Nurse, Children’s Community Nurse, Inclusion Health Nurse… wherever you work, whatever speciality you work in community nurses all have a role to play.
It may be too late to help the previous generation of young carers, but let’s support this generation before it’s too late for them to get the support they need in their lives.
If you want to join the conversation, check out the Young Carers Alliance with over 150 organisation and 350 individuals providing opportunities for collaboration, sharing best practice and a strong, collective voice for young carers.