Publication - Publication

Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015

Published: 26 Jul 2010
Part of:
Health and social care
ISBN:
9780755997138

The Scottish Government and COSLA are determined to ensure that carers are supported to manage their caring responsibilities with confidence and in good health, and to have a life of their own outside of caring.

Contents
Caring Together: The Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 - 2015
7. SUPPORTING YOUNG CARERS

7. SUPPORTING YOUNG CARERS

7.1 This chapter outlines the approaches, services and supports that can offset the negative effects of caring and can make a positive difference to young carers' lives, experiences and outcomes. Its contents reflect the earlier findings of the Care 21 Report, contributions from members of the Young Carers Strategy Steering Group and feedback received from young carers, including from the two Scottish Young Carer Festivals.

7.2 Aldridge and Becker 23 propose a preventative model for supporting young carers. This highlights the need to provide better support to the cared-for person to prevent young people from becoming young carers. It also recognises the inevitability of young people providing some care and support to family members with disabilities and it thus seeks to minimise any negative impact that this has on their welfare and development.

7.3 This is consistent with the approach promoted by the Scottish Government and COSLA in their joint statement on 'Early Years and Early Intervention', 24 issued in March 2008.

7.4 This statement highlighted the need to: anticipate the risks of young people not achieving positive outcomes; take action to ensure these risks don't materialise; and make effective interventions where the risk occurs.

Support to the Cared-for Person

7.5 The most effective way of ensuring that young carers are relieved of inappropriate caring roles that impact on their own care and well-being is by health and social care services providing adequate care and support to the cared-for person.

7.6 Support for young carers can be a child protection issue, a child health issue and a children's rights issue. Practitioners working with people with disabilities, ill-health or affected by substance misuse will wish to consider the impact that these conditions can have on any children in the household.

"Social Workers helped me and my brothers, but not my mum. Which means if you don't help her……you aren't helping me at all."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

7.7 By carrying out holistic and personalised assessments, social work practitioners working with people affected by disability, illness or addiction can consider the wider impact of these conditions on the family and can determine whether children in the household are young carers.

7.8 By avoiding making assumptions about any young carer's caring contribution, services and support can be provided that meet the assessed needs of the cared-for person and, at the same time, protect their children from carrying out inappropriate caring roles.

7.9 When assessing parents affected by disability, illness or addiction, health and social care practitioners will wish to consider whether these conditions have an impact on their ability to meet child care and parenting demands. This may highlight the need for particular, family-oriented interventions that ensure adequate care and protection for vulnerable children and young people.

7.10 The provision of appropriate and adequate support to the cared-for person can reduce the risk of young people becoming carers and of young carers reaching crisis. Timely intervention can prevent the need for more reactive and intensive child protection measures. Preventative measures help improve family members' care and welfare and also strengthen family cohesion.

Young Carers' Services

7.11 There are nearly 50 dedicated young carers' services across Scotland, supporting around 3,500 young carers. All but 3 local authority areas in Scotland have a service dedicated to young carers. These young carers' services meet together under the Scottish Young Carer Services Alliance.

7.12 Young carers' projects provide a range of services that seek to identify and support young carers, to prevent the negative impact caring can have and to improve young people's outcomes. In 2009, the Scottish Government funded a Mapping Exercise 25 of young carer services. This identified the types of support provided by young carers' projects, as follows:

SERVICE

Percentage of projects providing this

Emotional support

89.7%

Group activities

76.9%

Information and Advice

53.8%

Training

23.1%

Respite breaks and holidays

74.3%

Advocacy

51.3%

Family work

30.7%

Work with schools

35.9%

7.13 The main services provided by young carers' services across Scotland are around; emotional support and counselling, provided through one-to-one contact; group activities, which provide opportunities for new experiences and outings; and respite breaks allowing "time out" of caring, as well as holiday opportunities that the young carers would otherwise not be able to experience.

7.14 Some young carers' services also develop support for specific groups of young carers, recognising that they may have particular issues to deal with around gender or the cared-for person's condition. See, for example, Edinburgh Young Carers Project Girls Group in Good Practice Examples.

7.15 Young carers consistently provide very positive feedback on the support that they receive from dedicated young carer services, on the difference it makes to their lives and on the commitment of the staff that support them.

"They offer support and opportunities to discuss the issues we face on a daily basis. They help us a lot with family problems."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

"Always have that shoulder to cry on. First person I would talk to about anything. They are awesome."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival 2009

"My young carer group has the best leaders. They help in every aspect of my life. And the best young carers too. I love my group."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

7.16 In attending young carers' projects, young carers highlight the benefit of being with people who understand their situation. Their contact with other young people in similar circumstances enables them to recognise that they are not alone. They feel safer and more comfortable in sharing their experiences and they are able to be better supported by their young carer worker and their peers.

"I honestly say I love my group so much and it has helped me to feel really confident. I also feel as if I can be more open about my situation and feelings. I absolutely love the staff and the girls and I know for certain they will always be my friends. I feel comfortable with them and we have hundreds of laughs and lots of memories."

Brooklynn, 15 years

7.17 While many groups consider the issues that young carers have to deal with, young carers sometimes don't want to discuss their caring situation for reasons of privacy, concerns about stigma or just because they want to leave it at home. The group activities and opportunities provided by young carers' projects enables them to have a break from caring, to have fun and to enjoy their childhood.

7.18 As well as providing direct support to individual young carers, many of the services promote the importance of supporting and identifying young carers in their work with other professionals and agencies. Young carers' services participate in joint working in respect of individual young people and they also represent young carer interests at a service and strategic level. See, for example, Dumfries and Galloway's Young Carers Strategy or For Highland's Young Carers, both in Good Practice Examples.

7.19 Despite the benefits that young carers gain from young carer services many of these services face real challenges in their capacity to meet demand and in terms of their continuing funding. This has resulted in increasing numbers of young carers being placed on projects' waiting lists for service, and young carer workers having to reduce hours, reduce activities and opportunities and focus more time on fundraising.

7.20 In response to this, and with support from the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance, young carers' services are considering;

  • the services and models of support that they provide
  • their eligibility criteria and how best to target scarce resources
  • how best to share information and resources across the network
  • approaches to raising young carer issues up partners' agendas
  • how best to respond to national and local policy drivers
  • how to evidence effectiveness to Community Planning Partners.

7.21 One study 26 provides evidence of the economic value of investing in young carers' services. "At What Cost To Young Carers?" concluded that " for every pound invested in a young carers' project the saving to the Exchequer and wider society is £6.72".

7.22 The researchers considered the extent to which young carers' services could impact on some important issues. They identified the savings that could be achieved as;

  • avoiding being taken into local authority care: £50,574
  • improving a young carer's schooling: £47,931
  • avoiding a teenage pregnancy: £130,405
  • supporting a young carer to care: £7,827

7.23 Taking all the available evidence into account the researchers estimated that young carers' projects have an 11% impact on reducing truancy, a 1% impact on reducing the risk of young carers being taken into care and a 2.5% impact on reducing the risk of teenage pregnancy amongst the young carers they work with.

7.24 They concluded that in order for a young carer's project to justify it's funding, in respect of every 50 children they worked with in a year they would have to either divert three young carers from truancy, or one young carer from becoming a teenage parent, or three young carers from going into care.

ACTION POINT 7.1

The Scottish Government will continue to work with the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance to promote their work in identifying and supporting young carers, in developing their approaches, in sharing resources and best practice and in highlighting young carers' issues.

School and Curriculum-based Support for Young Carers

7.25 Feedback from young carers and those who support them consistently highlights the important role that head teachers, teachers, guidance teachers and support staff in schools can play in identifying and supporting young carers. Unfortunately, this can be accompanied by examples of schools not recognising how the young person's caring responsibilities can impact on their attendance, concentration, attainment and behaviour. At times, this lack of awareness can result in a disciplinary response, rather than one that is sensitive and supportive.

"Teachers could be more understanding about our needs"

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

"Teachers should take time to think about what we do at home and ask us if we are ok sometimes."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

7.26 However, the landscape has shifted and we are now seeing good practice across the country, with measures being taken to identify and support young carers in schools. These have been given impetus through legislative and policy developments, for example, as a result of Curriculum for Excellence and the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 as amended by the 2009 Act.

7.27 Curriculum for Excellence gives all teachers the responsibility for pupils' health and wellbeing and promotes a school ethos that should ensure that children and young people feel cared for and valued, feel safe and secure and work in a trusting and respectful environment.

7.28 Curriculum for Excellence provides universal support, but also recognises that additional provision will be needed to ensure that vulnerable young people have equality of opportunity.

7.29 Curriculum for Excellence promotes opportunities for personal achievement and provides the child or young person with learner entitlements. These include the entitlement to support to enable them to gain as much from school, as well as skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work and opportunities to move on to positive destinations. Young carers in particular may benefit from these entitlements.

7.30 The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended by the 2009 Act, provides the legal framework that underpins the system for identifying and addressing the barriers that children and young people may face in accessing learning. For a variety of reasons, including having caring responsibilities, children and young people may need additional support, long or short term to enable them to make the most of their school education.

7.31 The Minister for Children and Early Years has requested that young carers be one of the specific groups who are being considered in HMIe's review of the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning Act.

ACTION POINT 7.2

The Scottish Government and partners will respond to the recommendations coming from HMIe's review of the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning Act and its impact on specific groups of young people, including young carers.

7.32 Support for young carers in schools has also been promoted by HMIe's work on inclusion, which ensures that particular groups of young people do not miss out on the opportunities that can be provided in school. For example, in 2008, in partnership with the Scottish Government, HMIe published a self-evaluation and improvement guide, "How Good Are Our Services For Young Carers and Their Families?". This invites schools and their partners to evaluate and enhance the measures that they have in place for identifying and supporting young carers.

7.33 There are a number of practical steps that schools can take and arrangements that they can make to respond sensitively to the impact that caring can have on young carers' attendance, achievement, attainment and conduct. These include:

  • providing support for learning and access to facilities
  • identifying young carers in GIRFEC plans
  • ensuring that detention does not clash with caring responsibilities
  • giving access to bus passes to facilitate extra-curricular activities
  • allowing young carers to keep mobile phones on in class
  • making referral to the Young Carers Project for support
  • making provision for young carers arriving late at school
  • introducing "out of class cards"
  • introducing a "chill out" room at times of high anxiety
  • giving extensions to homework deadlines
  • involving young carers in teaching on disability and caring issues
  • providing homework help classes
  • supporting access to the Pupil Support Base
  • sharing information with Education Welfare Officers
  • introducing some flexibility into the timetable
  • arranging alternative study periods
  • making good use of technology i.e. pupil teacher contact via

Glow (the national schools intranet), computer based learning.

ACTION POINT 7.3

By 2012, if they have not already done so, local authority Education Services will wish to review the approaches they have in place for ensuring that young carers are supported in school and to ensure that they are not disadvantaged because of the impact their caring has on their attendance, achievement, attainment and behaviour.

ACTION POINT 7.4

By 2012, the Scottish Government and Learning and Teaching Scotland will work together to explore opportunities provided by "Glow", the national schools intranet, to identify and support young carers in school.

Information and Advice For Young Carers

7.34 Young people who recognise that they are young carers can benefit from accessing www.youngcarers.net run by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. This provides a range of good quality and relevant information. It is also interactive, with discussion boards and chatrooms that allow young carers to share experiences, post messages, ask questions and find support. www.youngcarers.net also provides information for professionals and parents, and links to other sources of information.

7.35 Through their contact with dedicated young carer services many young carers will also be supported to access appropriate information and advice on a range of subjects such as health, the law, personal safety, children's rights, activities, employment, benefits, etc. The support of young carer workers will also ensure that they are able to source information about caring, including information about specific conditions.

7.36 As many young people who are providing care do not recognise themselves as "young carers", it is all the more important that they can easily access up-to-date and relevant information and advice from general sources on the support that is available to them. www.youngscot.org provides this, as well as links to other important sources of information. These can help young people better understand the world around them, the available opportunities, the risks they might face, their rights and the services that can support them to grow, learn, play and develop.

7.37 Young carers at the Scottish Young Carers Festivals highlighted the important role that GPs and other primary care colleagues can have in providing information and advice. The young carers were particularly concerned to obtain information that helps them to understand the condition of the cared-for person, their treatment and their prognosis.

"Explain things properly to us."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

"Help us to know what we should do when we are looking after someone who has mental health issues."

Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009

7.38 In producing information on carers and young carers for all GPs in Scotland, the work being progressed by the Royal College of General Practitioners, will help to address this need.

7.39 In addition, the implementation of NHS Carers Information Strategies across all Scottish Health Boards has already resulted in considerable progress over the last few years. More carers and young carers are being provided with information and advice or are being signposted to relevant sources of advice and support. The Scottish Government will encourage Health Boards to build on this progress.

7.40 Further, the Carers Information Zone being established by NHSinform will be crucial in providing information to carers and young carers. This zone is informed by the needs of carers and young carers. When it is launched in 2010 it will;

  • provides a central accessible online resource of specific information for carers ranging from practical support for looking after someone to caring for their own health and wellbeing; and
  • signpost carers to the most appropriate source for further information, support and guidance.

ACTION POINT 7.5

In 2010, the Scottish Government will continue to work with NHS inform on the development of its Carer Information Zone. Once fully developed, NHS inform will continually review the online service to ensure that it remains up-to-date, accurate and relevant to carers' and young carers' needs.

Advocacy

7.41 All children have the right to have their voice heard when decisions are being made that impact on them. For young carers there are many situations where their views are or should be sought, for example, in contributing to the cared-for person's assessment, by inputting to a GP or Consultant's patient review, or when a young carer assessment is being carried out.

7.42 Many children and young people will be comfortable expressing their views in both informal and formal situations. But for some children, or in some situations, they may require the support of another person. This could be a parent or guardian, a friend or other trusted adult. For some children, because of their particular circumstances or caring responsibilities, they may need access to a dedicated, independent, professional advocacy worker.

ACTION POINT 7.6

The Scottish Government is currently developing work which aims to drive improvements to the quality, consistency and availability of advocacy support for children and young people. The Scottish Government will consider the needs of young carers within this work.

Young Carers Health and Well-being

7.43 Caring can have a significant and detrimental impact on young carers' physical and mental health and emotional well-being, and a lasting effect on their development. Young carers' services provide a range of support to seek to address this. They give information and advice on health and well-being, arrange health checks and doctor's appointments and provide support and advocacy to the young person when attending their GP. They support health promotion, healthy lifestyles and personal safety.

7.44 Young carers' services also provide basic emotional support to young carers - listening to them; counselling them; helping them to express themselves and to make sense of their situation; empathising with and reassuring them; and providing them with time and attention, practical help and support. From this, young carer workers can also determine whether and when more specialist psychological support or counselling is necessary. The emotional support provided by young carers' services is crucial in helping young carers cope.

7.45 Young carers attending the Scottish Young Carers Festival, in 2009 highlighted the need for improved help in understanding and dealing with mental health issues. In response, the Scottish Government has funded a Young Carers Mental Health Development Worker, who has been appointed by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

7.46 The Development Worker will have the dual role of developing accessible information for young carers on mental health issues and advancing a range of measures to enhance young carers' own mental health and well-being.

7.47 As well as providing support and developing resource material, the Development Worker will liaise with mental health agencies, advocacy services, befriending organisations, NHS Boards and local authorities in order to develop a network of support for young carers. Further, the postholder will raise awareness of young carers' specific needs around mental health and well being, so that information being provided by mental health organisations, NHS and local authority services is tailored to their needs.

ACTION POINT 7.7

The Scottish Government will review the work undertaken by the Mental Health Development Worker in order to identify what further developments are necessary to support young carers dealing with mental health issues. Consideration will be given to producing a bespoke resource for young carers on issues relating to stress.

7.48 However, as emphasised throughout this strategy, the majority of young carers are not identified as such, and are not supported by dedicated young carers' services. The GIRFEC approach, which focuses on all young people and considers their well-being, helps to address this challenge.

7.49 Indeed, through a GIRFEC approach, practitioners in all agencies concerned about a young person's health and well-being, or associated behaviours, may enquire further about the underlying issues. That may lead them to identify the young person as a 'young carer' for the first time.

7.50 GPs and other Community Health practitioners will all be concerned to promote and protect children and young people's health care needs. Through routine appointments, at the point of immunisations or health checks, or when young people present at surgeries these practitioners can assess both their physical and mental health.

7.51 Similarly, in carrying out assessments, particularly more family-focussed and holistic assessments and Carer Assessments, social workers have opportunities to consider the impact of caring on young people's health and well-being.

7.52 GIRFEC highlights the contribution that all practitioners, irrespective of which agency, can make when they have concerns about a child or young person. It suggests five questions that practitioners should ask themselves.

  • What is getting in the way of this child or young person's well-being?
  • Do I have all the information I need to help this child or young person?
  • What can I do now to help this child or young person?
  • What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
  • What additional help, if any, may be needed from others?

7.53 By adopting this approach and asking these questions the underlying issues impacting on young carers' health and well-being will be able to be identified and addressed more effectively, by practitioners in any agency.

7.54 The introduction of Curriculum for Excellence 27 highlights the responsibility that all teachers have for a child or young person's health and well-being. Whilst it is not expected that teachers will have the knowledge and skills to be able to deal with every single issue they may encounter, they are expected to know the correct procedures to follow to ensure that the child has access to the necessary support and assistance.

7.55 Curriculum for Excellence entitles all children and young people to the support that they need to enable them to get the most from curriculum. The Scottish Government is developing a framework which draws together all of the policies which support children and young people throughout their learning careers and towards positive sustained destinations. This framework includes the 10 standards of support outlined in 'Happy, Safe and Achieving Their Potential; a Standard of Support for Children and Young People in Scottish Schools.' 28

7.56 These standards encourage teachers to build positive relationships with children and young people and to provide pastoral care that looks beyond their academic progress to their welfare and personal development. The standards also recognise the importance of partnership working and the need to identify when referral to specialist services is necessary.

7.57 The actions being progressed by specialist and universal services, in the context of the range of policy and legislative developments outlined here, will combine to ensure that young carers' health and well-being needs are identified and their outcomes improved.

Breaks From Caring

7.58 In order to enjoy their childhood and to be children and young people first and foremost, young carers need breaks from caring and relief from the inappropriate caring roles that they often have to undertake.

7.59 Some young carers are providing very intensive support to the cared-for person. Even when they aren't at home, they may be worrying, pre-occupied and unable to enjoy possible respite. Others may have some opportunities for breaks through their participation in clubs, groups and activities. This may offset the effects of caring by allowing them to socialise, play, have fun and experience new opportunities and activities.

7.60 However, many young carers will have become isolated because of their caring role. They may need support to re-connect and rebuild friendships, gain confidence and be better equipped to plan and enjoy their breaks from caring. While this kind of support can be provided by a dedicated young carers' service, it can also come from local youth clubs and voluntary youth organisations. This is supported by the common principles outlined in 'Valuing Young People', which highlights the contribution that a range of partners can make to ensuring young people achieve their potential.

7.61 For some young carers school may be a sanctuary and an opportunity to enjoy a break from caring. But for others it may be somewhere that they encounter other challenges and difficulties, and so it may add to the pressures that they have to contend with.

7.62 In carrying out comprehensive assessments, identifying the contribution of carers in the family and ensuring that adequate replacement care is provided to the cared-for person, social work services can contribute significantly to ensuring that young carers are able to enjoy breaks from caring.

7.63 Young carers greatly value the short breaks that are provided by dedicated young carers' services, particularly if they can enjoy them confident in the knowledge that the replacement care being offered is reliable and of good quality. The range of breaks provided by dedicated young carers' services can take many forms - participating in activities, going on trips, experiencing new opportunities, having holidays, etc. However, young carers have expressed concern that many of their projects are having to reduce these opportunities due to the funding challenges they are facing.

7.64 In 2008, the Scottish Government jointly with COSLA issued "Guidance on Short Breaks (Respite)" 29 which encourages local authorities to take a strategic approach to developing short break provision. It aims to ensure the design and delivery of flexible and personalised short breaks are designed and delivered that seek to prevent the caring situation from breaking down.

7.65 The particular needs of young carers and the benefits they can derive are identified in the short break guidance, as follows:

Breaks from caring can prevent young carers becoming excluded by allowing them time with friends or peers to participate in social and leisure activities, or time for themselves. These opportunities are important to promoting young carers' health and wellbeing.

Young carers can benefit greatly from carefully planned, person-centred, flexible breaks offering a range of options to ensure that the young person is able to have a positive break from their caring responsibilities. Many are unfamiliar with short breaks, so practical examples will help to improve understanding and allay any anxieties.

Breaks for young carers should aim to improve health and well-being; reduce social exclusion; provide choices and empower young carers, leading to young carers:

  • having a choice in determining the way short breaks are delivered
  • having the opportunity to participate in mainstream groups or activities
  • being able to attend a young carers' service, residential trips or activity breaks.

7.66 It should be noted that breaks from caring do not necessarily mean a break from the cared-for person, as support can be provided to relieve the young carer of the caring tasks, while being able to spend some quality time with the cared-for person.

7.67 It is also important to acknowledge that young carers and wider family members can benefit from a holiday as a family unit. One study 30 has highlighted how a family holiday can bring families closer together, provide respite from day-to-day pressures, provide access to new opportunities and new social networks, generate optimism and enhance mental health. These are benefits that should be available to young carers.

7.68 Local authority Social Work Departments provide respite and short breaks for the cared-for person, often to the benefit of their carers. The Scottish Government has provided in excess of £4m in additional funding between 2009-2011 to support local authorities' commitment to increase the numbers of respite weeks provided.

7.69 However, the information recorded on respite provision relates to the cared-for person. It remains unclear to what extent young carers derive respite from the provision made to their disabled parent, sibling or other relative.

ACTION POINT 7.8

The Scottish Government and COSLA will develop measures to identify the extent to which young carers benefit from the provision of short breaks and respite care by local authorities. This will seek to identify good practice, whilst promoting the Short Break Guidance and highlighting the value of short breaks to young carers.

ACTION POINT 7.9

In 2010-11 the Scottish Government will work with Shared Care Scotland and others to disseminate the findings of short breaks research that is underway and to consider the development of further actions in light of the findings. In particular, Shared Care Scotland will seek to use the research findings to support partners to improve the local strategic planning and commissioning of short break provision.

ACTION POINT 7.10

For the duration of this strategy, the Scottish Government with Shared Care Scotland and other partners will encourage and support the continued development of more effective ways of providing short breaks through learning networks and, where possible, the setting up of demonstration projects.

ACTION POINT 7.11

In 2010-11, The Scottish Government will work with a range of organisations to explore the potential to develop short breaks provision through volunteers.

ACTION POINT 7.12

The Scottish Government will continue to publish beyond 2011 official statistics on respite provision and will work to improve the quality and consistency of this information, in order to achieve National Statistics status for this data source and publication.

ACTION 7.13

For the duration of this strategy, the Scottish Government will work with a range of organisations to explore the potential to develop emergency respite and to support young carers with emergency planning.

Young Carer Training

7.70 Many young carers' services provide training to young carers or arrange for them to access this. The focus of the training tends to be either to support young carers in their caring role, or to support their personal development.

7.71 Young carers benefit from training in a range of areas where this enables them to continue to safely and freely carry out caring roles and reduces any detrimental effect that caring may have. This may relate to providing information on the cared-for person's condition, treatment and prognosis and ensuring that the young carer acquires the skills and knowledge to intervene and assist safely, as appropriate.

7.72 First aid training, often provided in partnership with the British Red Cross or St Andrew's First Aid, also equips young carers with basic knowledge and skills that may assist them in their caring role or more widely.

7.73 Some young carers also receive and benefit from moving and handling training. However there are real challenges in providing this training.

7.74 In providing young carers with any training, an appropriate balance needs to be struck between, on the one hand, equipping them with knowledge, skills and awareness to ensure that they do not compromise their own health and safety when providing care, whilst on the other hand not training them to undertake tasks that it is neither appropriate nor safe for them to carry out.

7.75 Where personal development training is provided this aims to improve young carers' confidence, resilience and assertiveness and to build on the skills that they have acquired. This may extend to involving young carers in awards schemes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Dynamic Youth Awards or Youth Achievement Awards. These enhance social development and encourage young people to acquire new skills and to take part in outdoor and sporting activities. They also recognise and value the contribution that young carers make to their families and communities.

7.76 The focus of young carer training is often no different from that which other young people can or could benefit from in order to equip them to deal with the normal challenges, risks and opportunities of growing up. For example, young carers benefit from training on personal safety, fire safety, healthy eating, sexual health and relationships and in the risks around use of drugs and alcohol.

7.77 There are examples of older young carers also being equipped with the knowledge and skills to enable them to become peer educators in respect of sexual health, drugs and alcohol, enabling them to pass on information to other young people. This has proven beneficial to young carers who may have missed out on vital sessions within schools or who feel inhibited to ask their own questions about drugs and alcohol because of parental misuse.

7.78 Young carers will be able to benefit from the training opportunities offered by the NHS Carer Information Strategies, as well as the funding that the Scottish Government has given to the National Carer Organisations to develop carer training. Subject to the outcome of the Spending Review, the Scottish Government will also work with NHS Boards so that they may make an offer of training to carers in the greatest need.

Telecare

7.79 Telecare is the term used to describe the use of technology to provide support to people with disabilities, frailty or health problems in their own home. The term usually refers to sensors and alerts which provide automatic and remote monitoring of care emergencies and lifestyle changes, in order to trigger a human response or shut down equipment to prevent hazards.

7.80 Supported by the Scottish Government's £20m Telecare Development Fund, all 32 local partnerships in Scotland have developed telecare services. The potential benefits of telecare to young carers have not however been fully identified or realised.

ACTION POINT 7.14

In 2010-2015 the Scottish Government will explore the innovative use of new technologies that are accessible to and supportive of young carers.