Are you aged between 5 and 18 years old? Do you look after someone who is ill, frail, has a disability or mental health problem, or misuses drugs or alcohol?
If so, you are a young carer.
Young carers can provide very important help to their families. But nobody can force you to help and you do not have to do this alone.
Here is some information and tips to think about.
If you have questions about anything, speak to a member of hospital staff (for example, a doctor or nurse) or your GP or teacher.
Who counts as a carer
Not everyone realises they are a carer. You might be:
helping with the cooking, cleaning or shopping
helping someone in your family to get washed and dressed
helping when someone in your family gets angry or upset and needs cheering up
helping to look after your brothers and sisters.
Or you may not be doing any of these things but you might still live in the same house as someone who needs support and looking after. This will still have an impact on you and you may still be a young carer.
You are not alone
There are over 800,000 young carers in the UK.
We understand this may be a worrying time for you. It is okay to feel worried, anxious and stressed out. It is more important than ever that you look after yourself. We will give you some tips on managing these feelings.
Who can help
There are a number of places and people that can help.
You can speak to your teacher or GP if you feel overwhelmed and would like to get more help for you and your family.
At Kingston hospital, we also have a dedicated Young Carers’ Support Service. This team is there to help you as a carer. For example, we can help you get support at home and at school. We can also help you take care of your own physical and mental health.
Some areas have local carer’s centres where you can get support. This could be groups and activities with other young carers. You will also get the chance to speak to a support worker who will understand what you are going through and help you.
Speak to a member of hospital staff, GP or Young Carers’ Practitioner about what support is available in your area.
Tell people you are a carer
You do not need to go through this on your own.
It is important that you tell someone you are a young carer, especially if you are struggling. Make a list of three adults you would talk to if you are worried about something. Make sure these adults are all aware that you are a young carer.
You do not have to tell your friends but it can be nice to speak to them about what is going on at home.
It is also a very good idea to tell your school you are a young carer. They can make sure you have the right help. They may give you extra support around homework and study space.
It is very normal to feel anxious. Anxiety symptoms can be complicated and can include the following symptoms.
Physical: sweating, chest pain, trouble breathing, heart racing, shaking, headaches, butterflies in your stomach, feeling sick.
Mental: feeling angry, sad, nervous or afraid, struggling to concentrate, negative thoughts and behaviours.
There is information available to help you cope with your caring role. This could include help with school, mental health, physical health or any other worries you may have.
Speak to the Carers’ Clinical Liaison Practitioner or another member of the hospital team if you would like further information or help with any of these things.
Try to notice what it feels like when you are anxious, and remind yourself that the feeling will pass. The more you try to notice the feelings and not avoid them, the easier it will become to manage them.
Once you have noticed what makes you anxious you can take steps to prevent or deal with it.
Self care Be kind to yourself. See friends and do something fun for yourself.
Exercise and meditate Some people find that exercise and activities like meditation and breathing exercises are useful.
Eat and sleep well Ensure you are well rested so you are able to cope under pressure.
Keeping a journal may help. You do not need to share your journal with anyone, it can be just for you. You can write it out on paper or keep it in the notes section on your phone.
A journal can help you to prioritise your problems, fears and concerns. You can work out what makes you anxious or upset and learn how to control them. Try to recognise negative thoughts and be kind to yourself.
If you are finding it difficult to cope, it may be worth meeting with someone trained to help. You can speak to your parent, teacher, social worker or GP about how to access talking therapies.
Top Apps for anxiety
If you have a phone you can look up and download these apps on your App Store.
Calm: guided meditations and sleep stories to ease stress and improve sleep.
InnerHour: provides self-help tools for anxiety, depression, stress, sleep and more.
Headspace: train you mind for a healthier, happier life by reducing daily anxieties and stresses.
Moodpath: log your moods and emotions to deal with anxiety and depression.
Links to more information
For information and advice about being a young carer
Please speak to a member of staff before or during your visit to the hospital if you require translation.
Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 8934 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For information accessibility please visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust
Visit the hospital website, ask a member of staff, or ring us for details.
Switchboard 020 8546 7711
‘Find Us’ page for maps, transport, registering a blue badge, disabled access
Information, advice and support for patients and relatives (PALS) 020 8934 3993
Please speak to a member of staff before or during your visit to the hospital if you require translation support to access Patient Information. Please ring the phone number on your appointment letter, if you have one.
Request More Information
Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 893 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For detailed information on accessibility at Kingston Hospital visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble (https://www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust).
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