There are legal guidelines that say when you may be doing too much as a young carer.
As a young person, you should not have caring responsibilities that:
- make you feel worried, sad or lonely
- affects your physical or mental health
- affects your social life or stops you spending time with your friends
- stops you doing well in your studies
- stops you getting or keeping a job
- stops you achieving your goals for the future.
If a family member has cancer, it is natural to want to try your best to help them. But your needs are also important. You should not do all the same things as an adult carer, or spend too much time caring for someone. This may affect your studies, emotions, leisure time or other parts of your life.
The person with cancer may be able to get to help from:
- their local council in England, Scotland and Wales
- or their Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.
This means they should not have to rely on you to care for them.
The law says that any young carer or their family can ask for a young carer’s assessment. This is done in your home by a local social worker or young carer’s worker. A young carer’s assessment is a chat to find out what support you and your family may need or want.
How do I get a young carer’s assessment?
To get an assessment, you or your family should contact your local council or Health and Social Care Trust. You can also speak to your GP, teacher, a youth worker or another professional working with your family. They can help you get a young carer’s assessment.
Having an assessment is the best way to find out which support services are available in your situation. It can help if you are struggling to look after the person with cancer, do your schoolwork or spend time with friends.
The assessment is not like an exam. It does not test how good you are at caring for the person with cancer. Instead, it looks at:
- how much care you give and whether you want to be a carer
- how your caring affects your studies, training, work or opportunities to relax
- how your caring role makes you feel about the future
- the needs of your whole family
- any support that could help you and your family.
You and your family should get a written copy of the assessment and be told what to do if you disagree with it.
If you live in Scotland, you have the right to ask your local authority for a young carer statement. This starts with a conversation to find out about your caring role, what is important to you and which extra support you may need.
To find out more about having a young carer’s assessment or statement, visit:
How do I prepare for a young carer’s assessment?
Carers Trust has a guide to a young carer’s assessment called Know your rights: Support for young carers and young adult carers in England.
5 practical tips for young carers
Before the assessment, you may find it helpful to think about the following things:
- Keep a diary of all the jobs you do around the house and how long each task takes.
- make a list of any other ways that you support the person with cancer.
- think about how being a young carer affects your health, feelings, relationships, studies, any paid job and future plans.
- think about whether it is okay for you to continue being a young carer.
- write down which services currently help you and the person with cancer, and any extra support you think you need.
If you are approaching adulthood, you can get a different carer’s assessment depending on where you live. This assessment is done before you reach the age of 18.
England and Wales
If you live in England or Wales, the period when you approach becoming an adult may be called transition. You can ask for a transition assessment when you are ready to start thinking about your future. This is different from a young carer’s assessment. It is a chance for you to talk about your future plans, such as going to university or getting a job. The assessment decides what support you and the person with cancer need after you are 18.
You can have a transition assessment at any age, but it should happen well before you become 18. It is important to allow enough time to discuss and decide which practical or emotional support should be ready when you are 18.
After the assessment, you should get a written report with information and advice to help you plan for your future.
All carers aged 18 or over have the right to an adult carer’s assessment. We have more information about adult carer’s assessments.
If you live in Scotland, any young carer statement continues to apply when you become 18, until you get an adult carer support plan. If you do not want to continue being a carer, you can choose not to have an adult carer support plan.
If you live in Northern Ireland and are aged 16 or 17, you can ask for an adult carer’s assessment instead of a young carer’s assessment. But guidance suggests that this will only rarely be in your best interests. It may be better to have a young carer’s assessment and wait until you are 18 to get an adult carer’s assessment.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our information for young carers. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carers Trust. www.carers.org (accessed April 2020).
Carers UK. www.carersuk.org (accessed April 2020).
The Children’s Society. www.childrenssociety.org.uk (accessed April 2020).
Mind. www.mind.org.uk (accessed April 2020).
NHS. Being a young carer: your rights. Available from www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/support-and-benefits-for-carers/being-a-young-carer-your-rights (accessed April 2020).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Chief Medical Editor, Professor Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.