Bringing recognition and improved welfare service provision to young adult carers
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Nottingham
Unit of AssessmentSocial Work and Social Policy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology
Summary of the impact
Publication of the first major piece of research on young adult carers
[YACs] has led to recognition of a `new' group of carers in policy
and practice, and the development of two new psychometric instruments.
Raising awareness with Government, policy makers and service providers,
has resulted in the provision of new services and support and further
education provision for YACs across the UK, and the psychometric
tools are now being used extensively by organisations including
Comic Relief, The Government Innovation Fund, the BBC, and in a dozen
The key researchers for this case study are Professor Saul Becker
(PI), School of Sociology and Social Policy, November 2006 to present; Fiona
Becker, Senior Research Fellow, School of Sociology and Social
Policy, January 2007 to August 2010; Professor Stephen Joseph
(CI), School of Sociology and Social Policy, April 2006 to August 2013
(transferred to School of Education).
Up to 2007, little was known about what happens to carers aged 18-24,
their specific needs, and what support, if any, they receive. In response,
Saul Becker secured £45,000 from The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
(4) (now Carers Trust) to undertake the first national, mixed methods
study of young adult carers [YACs]. The research includes a
literature review, secondary analysis of Census data, two national
surveys, focus groups, and over 50 in-depth interviews with YACs (1).
Data presented in the research provide new insights into the number,
experiences, needs and support received by YACs. The research reveals
for the first time the number of YACs in the UK (229,318; 5.3% of all
young people). Other findings show, for example, that many YACs do
not access further or higher education because of past and/or current
caring responsibilities and those who do get to University are
unrecognised, finding their academic performance can be impaired by
combining study with caring. The research also shows that transitions
to adulthood and independence, and finding and keeping paid work, are
difficult when young people have to provide care at home.
Before 2007 there had been no specific and validated instruments for
assessing the extent and nature of caring conducted by young people and
for measuring outcomes on young carers. In response to this gap, Saul
Becker and his team were awarded £23,000 by Comic Relief (5) to develop
two psychometric instruments for use by policy audiences, practitioners,
researchers and others to assess the amount and types of caring roles
undertaken by young people, and the positive and negative outcomes of
caring: (i) Multidimensional Assessment of Caring Activities
Checklist, MACA-YC18; and (ii) Positive and Negative Outcomes of Caring
Questionnaire, PANOC-YC20 (2). Over 500 YACs and young carers were
involved in the development, testing and validation of the instruments
References to the research
The quality of underpinning research is evidenced by the fact that the
following outputs have been published in a peer-reviewed journal or are
the result of a peer-reviewed funding process.
3. Joseph, S., Becker, S., Becker, F. and Regel, S. (2009) `Assessment of
caring and its effects in young people: Development of the
Multidimensional Assessment of Caring Activities Checklist (MACA-YC18) and
the Positive and Negative Outcomes of Caring Questionnaire (PANOC-YC20)
for young carers', Child: Care, Health and Development, 35(4):
4. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, `Young adult carers 16-24 in
transition', March 2007-December 2008, £45,000
5. Comic Relief, `Evaluation of Comic Relief 1 and development of outcome
tools', 2007-2009, £23,000.
Details of the impact
Publication of what the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education
(NIACE) has described as "the first major piece of research on young
adult carers" (A) has led to a `new' group of carers being
formally recognised. The work has given policy audiences, service
providers and practitioners a research evidence base and validated
instruments to inform and steer policy, service development and
practice/interventions. "Until the publication of recent research by
Becker and Becker in 2008, the term `young adult carer' [YAC] had not been
formally used" (B).
Informing Government policy
The UK Government requested and utilised interim findings from the YAC
research to signal in the 2008 National Carers Strategy (England)
its concern for young carers' transitions into adulthood (C). In 2010, the
new Coalition Government `refreshed' the England National Carers
Strategy. The new Strategy recognised and differentiated between
young carers and YACs and endorsed cross-departmental Government
commitment to work with others to "provide young adults (including young
carers) with continuity of careers advice" (D).
The Scottish Government also used the research to inform its 2010
Young Carers Strategy and cited the research extensively. It "concluded
that the findings of a major study undertaken by Saul and Fiona Becker
into the needs of young adult carers were highly relevant to this
[Scottish] Strategy" (E). The Scottish Strategy's recommendations
(Appendix 5 of (E)) for developing policy and services in Scotland draw
almost verbatim on the recommendations on joined-up working in the
original YAC research report and the specific recommendations therein
about meeting the needs of YACs.
Saul Becker is the sole academic member of the National Policy Forum
established in January 2013 by NIACE to take forward ideas and policy
recommendations. In May 2013, the Care and Support Bill for England
(Clause 41, 1b) stated that local authorities should consider young
carers' current needs and how these might change post-18, to aid
transition planning — a key recommendation of the YAC research (F).
The significance of the introduction of new services has been formally
recognised in the House of Lords by Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under
Secretary of State (Quality) Health, who stated "more young carers
services are extending their age group to cover young adult carers
... the transition between children's services and adult services should
be smoother" (G).
The Chair of the Standing Commission for Carers noted in the
Foreword to the YAC report (1) that the research "provides an evidence
base for the development and delivery of more personalised support and
better outcomes for a vital but often `silent minority' of young people".
Inspiring service development
The original research report has been referred to as the evidence for
developing new services for YACs in many local authorities
(including Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Blackpool, Birmingham, Nottinghamshire
(H)) and by carers organisations in the UK. Numerous projects
funded by the Government's Innovation Fund and through Comic
Relief Programmes introduced services or expanded the eligible age
range for support from 18 (young carers) to 24 — to include YACs.
The YAC research provided the evidence base for Carers Trust's successful
bid to become the Co-Operative Society's Charity of the Year,
whose support is worth an estimated £7m over three years (2013-16) to
develop new services specifically for YACs.
Saul Becker has been invited as a steering group member to advise the
National Union of Students in helping to develop national policy
responses and recommendations for YACs attending university, and the NUS
has added information and advice to its website for student carers. A
number of universities are also engaging for the first time with the
learning needs of YACs and are developing resources and support,
including Essex, Oxford, Winchester and Nottingham. For example, in June
2013 Nottingham University hosted the first national University open day
specifically for carers under the age of 24.
Providing psychometric tools to inform practice/interventions
The psychometric instruments (MACA and PANOC) developed by Saul Becker
and his team have now been widely adopted. The instruments are used
across the UK in most young carers projects, by local authorities, other
researchers and professionals, and are increasingly being used
internationally. For example, the multi-million pound Comic Relief
Young Carers Grants Programmes from 2008 onwards required all funded
projects to use the instruments for self-monitoring and evaluation. The Government's
£1m Innovation Fund, announced in 2010, also required all projects
to use the MACA and PANOC.
In 2010, the BBC used the MACA with 4000 secondary school pupils
across the UK to screen for `hidden' young carers, advised by Saul
Becker (I). The findings, reported widely by the BBC and other media,
showed a much higher proportion of young carers than indicated by
Census figures — 8% of all children — and received substantial
attention by policy makers (J). These MACA-derived figures are
now used widely, including by UK Government, as a more reliable
indicator of the extent of caring amongst young people, e.g. (K).
In 2012, the MACA and PANOC were used by York Consulting and Ecorys
as part of their evaluation of the Government's Innovation Fund and the
Comic Relief Young Carers Grants Programme 2008-11. The evaluation of the
PRTC's `Improving Health Outcomes Grant programme 2012-13' also requires
evaluators to use MACA and PANOC. All fifty projects to be funded
under the multi-million pound Co-op/Carers Trust YAC Programme
(2013-16) must use MACA and PANOC (L).
Blackpool and a number of other local authorities used the MACA in
schools to screen for hidden young carers. Nottinghamshire County
Council uses the instruments to assess young carers as part of a new
multimillion pound recurring programme of support (H). Young carers'
projects across the UK use the tools for assessment and for determining
levels and types of support (L).
On an international level, requests for translation of the
instruments have been granted to Norway, India, Taiwan, China,
Japan. The tools are being used by practitioners and researchers in the
USA, Sub-Saharan Africa, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand
and Australia (M). In Norway (N) for example, Saul Becker is
advising government departments that are intending to use the MACA
to screen for hidden young carers, and from this evidence base they intend
to develop policy and services.
The research also received prominent coverage on national television
and radio. In October 2012, BBC Radio 1 broadcast the first
radio show specifically on YACs, `Keeping Mum', the commissioning
and content of which was directly informed by the YAC research findings.
Five YACs hosted a two hour show which clearly resonated with other young
people and YACs, as illustrated by many emails and tweets received by the
BBC. Official BBC figures give combined listenership for the show as
415,000 and related news reports and shorter appearances reached a
further 11 million radio listeners and 3 million TV viewers. As a
result of the programme, the Care Minister confirmed to the BBC
that schools, colleges and GPs must "up their game" for YACs.
Dissemination to policy and practitioner individuals
Since 2008, Saul Becker has been invited as `expert' keynote speaker
to present research findings to MPs, Lords, Ministers, senior civil
servants, service providers and young adult carers in the Houses of
Parliament and to Government departments in countries which include
Norway, Sweden and Australia. Saul Becker used 30 keynote invitations
at policy and practitioner conferences across the UK and internationally
to disseminate the Manual and the applicability of the tools,
including providing `master classes' to practitioners in the UK,
Australia, Norway and Sweden on how to score and interpret the findings.
The former Department for Children, Schools and Families made the
research report (1) available as a free PDF download on its website and
the publication of the research report (1) and the user Manual for
MACA and PANOC (2) was also accompanied by a programme of active
dissemination. This included coordinated press releases from the
University of Nottingham and the PRTC, and emails to over 4000 policy
makers and practitioners across the world, generating international
interest. The Manual and research report are available free on the
Carers Trust website and on Saul Becker's. Paper copies of the Manual
were sent to projects involved in the research and to all 350 young
carers' projects in the UK.
Sources to corroborate the impact
A. NIACE policy paper (2013) Access and Inclusion: Young Adult Carers
and Education and Training, Leicester: NIACE, p. 7.
B. Aylward, N. (2009) Access to Education and Training for Young
Adult Carers: Project Summary Report, Leicester: NIACE, p.12.
C. HM Government (2008) Carers at the Heart of 21st-Century Families
and Communities, London: Department of Health, p 123 and reference
D. HM Government (2010) Recognised, Valued and Supported: Next Steps
for the Carers Strategy, London: Department of Health, p 14 and p
E. The Scottish Government (2010) Getting It Right for Young Carers:
The Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015, Edinburgh: The
Scottish Government, para 8.20.
F. Care Bill (HL Bill 1) Clauses 60-61, pp 46-47.
G. House of Lords Debates, 14 January 2013, Carers — Question, 2.52 pm.
H. Project Manager, Nottinghamshire County Council. Corroborate the
direct usage of the psychometric research and instruments for the
screening and assessment of young carers and as an evidence base for local
authority policy and practice.
I. Senior Reporter and Feature Maker, BBC. Corroborate the impact and
beneficiaries of the YAC research and psychometric research and the usage
of both sets of research in BBC programmes.
J. BBC News 16 November 2010. "Cameron warns on child carer cuts".
K. Department of Health press release 13 April 2013. "School nurses to
play a bigger role in improving children's health". https://www.gov.uk/government/news/school-nurses-to-play-a-bigger-role-in-improving-childrens-health
L. Director of Policy, The Carers Trust (formerly The Princess Royal
Trust for Carers). Corroborate the quality, impact and widespread
professional usage and beneficiaries of the YAC research and psychometric
M. Chief Executive, Carers Association of South Australia. Corroborate
the use of MACA and PANOC in Australia.
N. Professional Advisor, BarnsBeste (Children's Best — National
Competence Network for Children as Next of Kin), Norway. Corroborate the
use of psychometric tools in Norway.