There is a lack of public health evidence on the impacts of being a young carer, with most evidence based on studies involving already identified carers. Young carers tend to have poorer health, education and employment outcomes compared with their peers. They are also more likely to live in areas with higher deprivation levels, and with a lone parent or adult(s) with long-term health conditions, all of which are disproportionately present in Glasgow.Background
From April this year, local authorities and health boards across Scotland will be required to offer a ‘young carers’ statement, as stipulated by the Carers Act (2016).Background
Using data from a schools survey (age range 11–18) in Glasgow, the research aimed to take a population approach to young carer research, specifically to:Methods
Secondary analysis of the 2014 NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde health and wellbeing secondary school survey was undertaken (n=11,215). Pupils with caring responsibilities were identified. Their outcomes in terms of physical and mental health, and post-school expectations were analysed, using three-stage complete case regression analysis in SPSS.Results
Almost one in eight (12%) surveyed reported caring for someone in the household. Almost a third (30.9%) stated that no-one knew about it. Over half cared for someone with a disability, a third for someone with a long-term condition, almost a quarter for someone with a mental health problem, and just over a tenth for someone with a drug or alcohol problem.Results
Over and above background factors and presence of illness in the household, young carers physical and mental health outcomes were significantly poorer, particularly for those caring for a person with mental health or addictions issues. They were significantly less likely to see themselves entering further or higher education.Discussion
This research suggests that Glasgow could have many more young carers than previously thought, and provides clear evidence that young people’s outcomes are influenced by carer status. Possible explanations for under-identification include stigma, fear of intervention and not identifying with the ‘carer’ role.Discussion
In April, the implementation of new Scottish legislation will place a duty on public services to identify and support young carers. This could present future service challenges, in particular, ensuring that young people feel comfortable enough to disclose their carer status, and that effective support measures contribute towards improving their health outcomes and future prospects.