BAME young carers need more support, says charity

By Dan Parton

| 29 April 2019

Health and care services need to do more to identify young carers from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and provide them with support, a children's charity has said.

BAME young carers are often missed by health and social care services because of cultural barriers, according to research by Barnardo’s. Picture: Michael Spring/Adobe Stock

Health and care services need to do more to identify young carers from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and provide them with support, a children's charity has said.

Research by Barnardo's, published in its report, Caring Alone, has found BAME young carers - who account for about 20 per cent of the estimated 800,000 young carers in England - are often missed by health and social care services because of cultural barriers.

For instance, the concept of being a young carer is unfamiliar to many BAME communities, as caring for relatives is expected, so the impact on them is not realised.

In addition, stigma and mistrust play a large role in stopping BAME families and young carers from seeking support. There is often a mistrust of social services and authorities, but there is also stigma within many BAME communities in acknowledging mental health and disability issues and in seeking support.

The Barnardo's report also found that young carers from BAME communities face a range of other issues, including too often being relied on as interpreters, especially for technical and personal medical information between patients and doctors, which could lead to misdiagnosis and increased anxiety.

Caring Alone makes nine recommendations, calling on various bodies, including NHS England, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and government to take action.

This includes calling for the NHS 10-year plan to go much further in its proposals on improving support for identifying and referring young carers for support from the NHS. The Barnardo's report is critical of the current plans for being insufficient in terms of ambition and scope.

Barnardo's also called for better access for people from BAME communities to translation services, saying that no child should have to translate for a relative.

Other recommendations focus on work in the community. For instance, it asks for local authorities, NHS England and young carer services to look to employ specific BAME outreach workers who understand the community they work within.

Allied to this, it calls for NHS England and community outreach groups to do more in BAME communities to address the stigma of physical and learning disabilities and mental illness so that families and carers are more willing to access support. It also recommended that services working in BAME communities are more joined up to give a greater chance of young carers and their families being identified and referred for support.

"Many young carers already have it tough, balancing cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, and helping to look after siblings, alongside trying to keep up with their school work," said Barnardo's chief executive, Javed Khan.

"But young carers from some BAME communities are even less likely to access support, due partly to the stigma attached to asking for help.

"Young people are often proud of their role in caring for family members.

"But as a society we must protect them from taking on too much responsibility at a young age, and from sacrificing their education, or physical and mental health.

"It's not right that BAME young carers often have to interpret complicated medical information for a loved one, which can lead to misdiagnosis and cause additional stress.

"This group of vulnerable children are often "hidden", and there is an urgent need to break down barriers, so they are not left to struggle on their own."

blog comments powered by Disqus