CAT for stroke
(Supervisory team: Professor Barbara Jack, Professor Mary O’Brien, Dr Juliet Thomas)
Every year in the United Kingdom (UK) approximately 152, 000 people suffer a stroke. At present, there are nearly 1.2 million stroke survivors living in the UK. The effects of stroke to individuals varies depending on the part of the brain that is affected. Nevertheless, the common effects include; limb weakness usually to one side of the body, problems with thinking and memory, difficulties with speaking and in some cases bladder and bowel dysfunction. The majority of stroke survivors rely on family carers to provide assistance with their activities of daily living ranging from physical help to psychological support. The needs of the family carers are however not always met and they often experience high levels of burden resulting in deterioration of their health and wellbeing. Early identification of the family carers’ needs and support is, therefore, important in order to sustain their caring role.
The Carers’ Alert Thermometer (CAT) is an alert tool that was developed by researchers from Edge Hill University, Evidence-based Practice Research Centre with funding from the National Institute for Health Research. It was developed to identify and support the needs of family carers providing end of life care at home. The CAT consists of 10 questions, suggestions of the next steps to be taken and a space to write an action plan if any needs are identified. The aim of my PhD project is to adapt the CAT and develop the CAT specifically for use with family carers who support stroke survivors to be called CAT(S).
CAT for young carers
(Supervisory team: Dr Kate Knighting, Professor Mary O’Brien, Professor Barbara Jack)
There are approximately 215,000 young carers in the UK, who provide unpaid care such as housework, personal care and emotional support to family members. However, the real figure is estimated to be four times higher than this, as many young carers remain hidden from official statistics. Although they may be as young as five, the 2011 census reported the majority (87%) of young carers in the UK are aged 10-18. Many young carers experience positive aspects, but also burden from their caring role, which can impact on their health, wellbeing and education. This in turn can have negative consequences for their physical and emotional health, and future employment opportunities. Recent changes to legislation in England and Wales mean that local authorities now have a duty to carry out full needs assessments for all young carers, thereby increasing the number requiring assessment (s96, Children and Families Act, 2014). It is imperative, therefore, that young carers are identified and signposted for appropriate support in a timely manner, in order for them to achieve the best opportunities to thrive.
The aim of my PhD research is to identify areas of burden experienced by young carers aged 11-18 of a family member with a progressive illness and develop a Carers’ Alert Thermometer for Young Carers (CAT-YC). Although progressive illnesses can include mental illnesses, my research will focus on young carers of a family member with a progressive or long term physical illness or disability. This is because young carers looking after a parent with a progressive mental illness are likely to be assessed under different legislation, requiring different support and interventions. Based on the principles of the original CAT for adult carers, the CAT-YC will be developed collaboratively with young carers, and will act as a short screening tool to triage them to appropriate support, or a full comprehensive assessment of needs.