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Young Carer Going to College: Who Will Care For Parent?

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 27 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Young Carer Moving On Leaving Home


I am a school based youth worker working with a young carer who cares for his father with little support from his family or services. He is intending to go away to university in September and is worried about the transition from home carer to distance carer. He will not be able to return every weekend to see his parent.

He is worried that his family will not be able to manage the responsibility of looking after his parent and concerned that he will end up in a care home. He is concerned about leaving his responsibilites. I would be grateful for any advice you have to pass on to him.

(C.O, 21 May 2009)


Feeling guilty and worried about moving on and leaving home are common feelings for many young carers. However, it must be stressed that there is no need to feel guilty. Many youth care organisations are keen to highlight to young carers that they also have a right to pursue their own interests and lives. As the Young Carers’ Network says, “you need to be able to live your life as well as being there for your family”.

It is common to worry that as a young carer, while you are away everything will crumble and turn into a mess. However, you might be surprised how many young carers do move out to go to college or get a place of their own and find that things work out fine back at home.

Talk to other family members now about their thoughts on what will happen when you go to university in September. Perhaps they have already discussed and prepared for your move in a lot of ways. Explain your fears to them. You could also work out good ways to stay in touch so that you will know how your father is.

Also, talk to a social worker. If you don’t already have one, contact the social services department at your council. They will be able to help you find out about the help and support that your father could be entitled to – there should be plenty. The social worker will also be able to do an assessment of your father and the circumstances and talk to you openly and honestly about the prospect of your father having to go into in a care home. If this isn’t what your father and your family wants, everything should be done to explore alternative options first so try not to worry about this until you have spoken to a professional.

Additionally, if you haven’t already, try to find out if there are any youth carer support groups in your area. You could get support and advice and interact with other young carers in a similar position to yourself. Many young carers find these groups an excellent source of comfort and support. It may also help you to talk to other carers and young carers online.

Finally, good luck at university!

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