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Young Carers Action Day

teenage carer giving pills to mother

Young Carers Action Day

The 16th March 2021 marked Young Carers Action Day. The annual event raises awareness of the challenges faced by young carers and campaigns for greater support for them. A young carer is someone under the age of 18 that looks after someone in their family (or a friend) who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. Carers play a crucial role in our healthcare system, with £132 billion pounds worth of care said to be provided by carers a year. Care of those who cannot care for themselves requires immense sacrifice, yet it is not exclusive to adults; one in five secondary school children may be carers. The importance of young carers is only set to increase as there are over 166,360 registered young carers currently in England alone – a fifth higher than the previous decade; and due to an aging population, it is believed that by 2037, we will have a total of 9 million unpaid carers in the UK.

'7 in 10 young carers have suffered mental ill-health’

Due to their caring responsibilities and their sustained amount of time around the home, young carers can miss out on valuable developmental opportunities. The average young carer misses or cuts short 48 school days a year, not only missing out on education but also becoming socially isolated from their peers, with 7 in 10 having suffered mental ill-health. With the focus taken away from their own development, young carers are 1.5 times more likely to have long-term illnesses, special educational needs, or a disability and 3 in 5 have reported instances of physical ill-health.

teenage girl caring for mother bring her a cup of tea

Equipment, repairs, and adaptations can lessen some of the immense burden on the shoulders of young carers, however it can be difficult to make sense of. Whilst grants such as the Disabled Facilities Grants are available to carers, it can be a complex and daunting process that only further adds to their existing worry and stress. Moreover, many carers do not recognise themselves as such, so will not access support voluntarily. Care specification such as thermostatically controlled showers, low surface temperature heaters and specialist ventilation solutions are all examples of technology that can alleviate some of the pressures on young carers. Access to technology, when made open and available, could in some small way help young people to enjoy their youth.

Care Specification

Specification of technologies such as the Redring Selectronic shower assist with everyday functions of human life. A large LED display and audible push button controls make for ease of use for the blind, people with learning difficulties, and people living with dementia. Technology designed to make ordinary processes like showering simpler can make substantial improvements to a variety of family-types. The temperature lock feature reduces the need for constant monitoring, meaning that a young unpaid carer can use their limited time more efficiently. At the same time, intelligent controls such as automatic shutdown after 30 minutes of inactivity can save money on utility bills and potential water damages. The shower also comes with a grab rail, a riser rail and a two-metre smooth shower hose to allow users to comfortably operate the shower whilst seated. Finally, the shower comes with a data logger system to measure temperature and usage, meaning that a young carer can quickly and easily know if their relative/friend is showering and keeping up with their hygiene.

Meanwhile, space-heating technology can also be adapted to minimise the amount of care assistance required around it. Dimplex Low Surface Temperature (LST) radiators monitor the effect of their actions on a room’s temperature. It knows precisely how long it takes to reach the desired temperature and when to turn off once that temperature has been reached. This means improved control, comfort and potential for energy saving. Utilising fan technology also means that it is possible to achieve a higher heat output than a comparably sized non-fan assisted heater, minimising surface temperature without the requirement for a very large unit on the wall. The maximum surface temperature remains under 43C, meaning it is purpose designed to heat areas where vulnerable people are present and comply with NHS Estates Health Guidance Notes. The radiator also comes with a child lock feature, so the temperature cannot be tampered with.

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Other technologies such as Xpelair’s simply silent range that utilises Ghost Movement technology offer quiet operation for minimum disturbance. This is ideal as it removes the stress that loud acoustics can bring, the removal of any additional stress can provide a comfortable environment for a young carer to flourish. 1 in 4 UK adults describe their bathroom fan as annoyingly noisy, with 4.5 million of the UK population reporting that they have been woken up or kept awake by a noisy bathroom fan.

‘Caring is intrinsically fused with poverty’

Improvements to the home like these can make things that are taken for granted in many households like showering, sleeping, heating and ventilation that bit simpler. Caring is intrinsically fused with poverty, as children with a member of the family with a disability are more likely to live in poverty (21%) than children in a non-disabled family (16%). A large portion of responsibility therefore falls on the shoulders of those tasked with providing the disadvantaged with adequate housing, especially given that only half of young carers have a particular person in their school that recognises that they are a carer and helps them. Also, housing provision for young carers that protects their ability to live on their own and hands power back to them is pivotal to their development and mental health.

If you would like to know more about how we can enhance the accessibility and functionality of a home’s heating, hot water and ventilation for disabled people and their families, contact our team to be put in touch with your regional specialist.