A young carer is someone aged 18 or under who helps to look after a relative who suffers from mental or physical condition. The majority of young carers look after a parent or a sibling. They do jobs in and around the home, such as cooking, cleaning, or helping someone to get dressed and move around.
Not surprisingly caring can be extremely stressful, difficult and tiring. Research has shown that young carers can develop social and psychological problems. Their school work can suffer. Friendships may be affected. Opportunities for leisure activities are often restricted.
Research also shows that young carers can find benefits in the experience too. For example, it can lead to the development of resilience, increased self-knowledge and maturity.
Such an observation is not surprising given what we now know about posttraumatic growth.
But until recently researchers and practitioners in the field of caring had not taken this into account. In response my colleagues and I developed a new set of self-report tools with which researchers and practitioners can assess both the positive and negative outcomes of caring.
The Positive and Negative Outcomes of Caring (PANOC) is a 20-item questionnaire developed for use with young carers.