Covid-19 is affecting us all, however, it is likely to have a particularly negative impact on children who have caring responsibilities within their families – young carers.
Under normal circumstances, young carers are often anxious or worried about the health and wellbeing of the person they care for, their own health or whether the care that they provide is good enough. So with the current Covid-19 crisis, it is understandable that these concerns are magnified. At this time, there is the potential for young carers to experience further anxieties about the health of those they care for, especially if they are caring for somebody who is elderly or who has an ‘underlying health issue’. Additionally, with current restrictions on movement and schools and colleges all closed for the foreseeable future, young carers will inevitably experience greater levels of isolation and loneliness. These restrictions impact not only their social interactions but also the emotional support young people get from their friends and peers.
It’s important that over the next weeks or months, professionals and services working with young carers are aware of the potential additional concerns they may have and respond by keeping an extra eye out for them. Young carers may require more support than usual online, from helplines and from other support services such as counselling services. Some may also require more age-appropriate information.
Recommendations for youth services, schools and professionals working with young people:
- Be aware of the potential heightened anxieties that young carers might be experiencing at this difficult time. Check in with young carers and their families and ask how they are getting on. Give them extra attention and time to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions.
- With schools now closed, many teachers have prescribed coursework for students to complete while at home. Teachers should consider the situation of young carers when prescribing this work and take extra measures to support young people who will balance their time at home with additional caring responsibilities.
- Schools should also give consideration to the fact that many young carers don’t have the time or space to complete the assigned coursework and may not have access to broadband.
- Consider offering access to online supports for young carers using Skype or Zoom – e.g. counselling services, young carer forums or helplines.
- If possible, display the below Covid-19 posters targeted at children and young people.
- Develop an Emergency Care Plan to support young carers. Click here to access Family Carers Ireland’s Emergency Care Plan booklet.
- Children and young people need factual, age appropriate information about Covid-19 and clear instructions about how to avoid spreading the virus.