WHAT IS A YOUNG CARER?
A young carer is ‘someone under 18 who provides care, assistance and support to another family member. They carry out, often on a regular basis, significant or substantial caring tasks and assume a level of responsibility, which would normally be associated with an adult. The person receiving the care is often a parent but can be a sibling, grandparent or other relative who is disabled, has some chronic illness, mental health problem or another condition connected with a need for care, support or supervision. Factors which influence the extent and nature of young carer’s tasks and responsibilities include the illness/disability, family structure, gender, culture, religion, income and the availability and quality of professional support and services.” (Young Carers, 2000)
PRESSURES AND RISKS YOUNG CARERS FACE:
Social Isolation; young carers can miss out on various leisure opportunities due to additional home life responsibilities.
Bullying; they are at risk of being bullied in relation to the family member they are caring for.
Academic Achievement; they may struggle academically and have poor attendance, failure to meet deadlines and the ability to focus in class.
Health Problems; they are likely to feel stressed and under pressure, they may also have a poor diet and poor fitness levels.
Emotional Difficulties; they are likely to have poor emotional wellbeing and may be worried or concerned about the family member they are caring for.
Child to Adult Transitioning; they may not have the support required whilst going through physical changes, discovering who they are, what they want to be etc.
THE AIM OF THE MY TIME PROJECT IS TO:
Create a needs assessment process to help identify young carers and their on-going needs.
Ensure young carers in Jersey are recognised and valued
Give young carers a voice
Raise awareness of young carers, to support and influence change
Increase the support available to young carers
take on an integrated approach with schools and other agencies to meet the needs of young carers
To provide access to new opportunities and experiences
To refer/signpost young people to other agencies/services as and when required
YOUNG CARERS IN JERSEY:
Unfortunately we do not have any accurate data specifying the number of young carers living in Jersey. This data could be gathered but would change frequently as people become ill and can recover within certain periods of time.
We do however has access to the January 2016 Jersey Health and Life Opportunities Survey: Measuring the prevalence and profile of disability in Jersey report findings.
1 in 4 households were randomly selected to complete the questionnaire for this research, which equated to 10399 private households out of the 41595 occupied dwellings in Jersey. There was a 42% response rate and therefore 4300 completed the questionnaire.
The report told us that 1% of the 41595 households were thought to have young carers assisting with care duties within the home – this works out as 416 young people. This does not include young people who care for people with a substance misuse problem and so the figure is likely to be even higher.
We also have access to the Picture of Health Jersey report from 2014 which states that 23% of 2675 pupils that completed the questionnaire in 2014 identified themselves as young carers and a further 28% were not sure.
The questionnaire was carried out with students in all primary schools across the Island at ages 10-11 years (school year 6) and in all secondary schools across the Island at 12-13 years (school year 8) and 14-15 years (school year 10).
In the questionnaire a young carer was identified as:
A young person who looks after someone in their family who has an illness (physical or mental) or a disability, taking on tasks that an adult would normally do, for example:
Dressing, washing, bathing, helping with toilet needs
Lifting, helping on stairs
Managing family budget, collecting prescriptions, giving medication
Looking after younger siblings
Emotional support, interpreting
In response to the above information we have created a project for young carers called ‘The My Time Project’
As with all projects we carry out evaluations and reviews at the end of the year to help inform the development of the project so we can make it the best it can be for the young carers.
We also encourage the young people to develop further skills and present them with the opportunity to do fundraising, presentations, deliver training, make bookings, phone calls etc. This benefits them as young people and also helps to develop their skills and confidence as young carers
Residentials; Young carers also get the chance to have a weekend away from home which allows them to have some time to focus on themselves, have fun and simply be young people. We incorporate some of the above activities into the weekend as well as additional experiences, such as water sports, outdoor adventure – we try our best to do whatever the young carers would like to do (providing it is within budget).
Support, information and advice; key people are invited to come and meet with the young people to raise awareness of their services. Young people hugely benefit from this for example; The Youth Enquiry Service, Samaritans, Food Coaches, Sport Instructors, St John Ambulance, Brook, Princes Trust etc.
Curriculum topics; linked to awareness days when possible to help young people make informed choices.
Sport; providing the opportunity for young people to have fun and get active, we will look at the importance of keeping fit to keep your mind and body healthy.
Art; providing young people with the opportunity to use art as therapy, to be creative or to use it as a way to relax and express themselves.
Cooking; providing opportunity for young people to learn how to cook, using nutritious, simple recipes. We would also focus on food hygiene and diet and nutrition.