A carer is “anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, mental health problems or addiction, cannot cope without their support.” Caring for a friend or a relative is linked to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes: carers are twice as likely to be in bad health than non-carers2, and 75% of carers find it hard to maintain relationships. Yet, informal carers represent a huge value to society.
The care provided by friends and family members to ill, frail or disabled relatives is equivalent to £132 billion every year, considerably more than total spending on the NHS. However, their experiences are far from reflecting that. Half of all carers in the UK feel that society does not think about them at all. This project was commissioned by Lambeth CCG, in parallel to the development of the Carers Strategy, with the aim to highlight the positive impact informal carers have in their communities and co-produce better support for carers in Lambeth.
We focused the project on young adult carers (16-25) for two reasons. First, they are in a moment of transition into adulthood. This brings practical challenges as well as potential life changes. Second, it is often reported that there is a gap in provision for this age group.
The service design process combined in-depth conversations with people who had experience as a young adult carer, as well as co-design workshops with young adult carers and professionals around:
Building on the research and co-design, the Carers Hub Lambeth was able to successfully apply for funding for a new service supporting young adult carers by giving them the tools for wellbeing and resilience, and supporting their aspirations
Following the research, we co-designed a card game that will be used in Lambeth schools to raise awareness of what it is like to be a young carers, and to encourage other young carers to identify themselves and ask for help.
This project is a work in progress, and the outcomes of it will be published in Spring 2017.