If you know a young carer, you might feel like there is nothing you can do to make their situation better. The reality is that young carers really need you, even though they might not say it, and there are lots of things you can do to help them feel more supported and less alone.
• Be their safe person:
• Be compassionate and empathetic.
• Check in with them on a regular basis to find out how they are doing.
• Be supportive, nonjudgmental and try not to pry for information. Just listen to what they feel comfortable sharing.
• Focus on their perspective and experiences rather than on their family members.
• Ask the young carer what they need and want from you. Are they looking for someone who will simply listen to them and let them vent, a mentor, or someone who will challenge them?
• If you can, help them meet others who have similar experiences so they feel less alone.
• If they are ready, help facilitate opportunities for them to learn new things, improve their coping strategies, and increase their support system.
• Help them find a safe place where they can go to relax when they need a break from their responsibilities at home.
Some of your patients have young carers in their families. They are often involved with aspects of their family member’s care and can be impacted by the situation in many ways themselves. Consider the following:
• Be honest and transparent with them when they ask questions about their family member’s health, care plan, and other needs.
• Provide information that is age appropriate so they can understand what is going on and how to properly care for their family member if they need to.
• Provide information about what to expect in the short and long term, including future care needs, if applicable.
• Develop crisis plans with them for emergency situations, including people who can be called any time of day or night.
• Provide young carers with information about relevant community supports.
• Don’t underestimate the impact you’re having as a caring adult.
• Share this information with your colleagues, other community members, and young carers.