Young carers and Good practices definitions

In every research project, it is very important to have a clear idea from the beginning of the definitions we are going to use. For this project, the relevant definitions are good (best) Practice and Young Carers”. Following is a brief account of the issues we should be aware of concerning these two definitions. The term “Best Practice” was originally used in the US by F.W. Taylor, a management consultant, in his work Principles of Scientific Management (1911), stemming from his attempt to determine the optimization of production in industrial settings 1 . Osburn (2011) argue that after researching the term best practice and the way it is used they have managed to pinpoint five interrelated elements: “(1) the idea that there is or should be a best particular way of doing something; (2) the term (i.e., “best practice”) as a way of communicating this notion; (3) definition(s) of what the term (“best practice”) means; (4) the explication of the concept’s action implications; and (5) the actualization of the concept, i.e., putting whatever practice is considered best into
concrete action.” 1 As Druery (2013) informs us their literature research has revealed that most articles on the subject do not offer a definition of Best Practice and how this relates to a specific discipline or profession. 2 Aldridge (1995) point out that it is very important to have a definition for “young carers” for research purposes. But, because their study was cross-national it was evident that the working definition they chose to base their research on would not be compatible and applicable to the other EU countries. The definition they started from was the one used by the Carers National Association (1992):
“A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 who provides the main (primary) care for a parent or relative in the community, usually within their own home, and most often without any help or support from welfare agencies/services”. 3 For this reason they had to broaden the definition thus they developed the following:
“A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 who lives in a one-parent or two-parent family where the parent(s) have a physical or mental disability, or where they have long term illness, or where there is drug or alcohol abuse/misuse (etc.), and the child helps to provide some of the main care for the parent(s). A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 who lives in a one-parent or two-parent family where a younger or older brother/sister has some physical or mental disability or illness, and the child helps to provide some of the main care for their sibling.” 3
From my online research on projects regarding how best practices for young carers can be determined I discovered that this is very difficult to be achieved. From reading on the subject I perceive that the main difficulties are two. Firstly, what is considered Best Practice is not primarily based on research but rather it is a practice that is considered to work and should carry on. It is not very clear exactly how this is determined. Secondly, projects on young carers in different European countries do not necessarily provide identical services. I will give a few examples of a few projects and what I found on their websites.
 Carers Finland: Contains information on issues concerning all carers, videos with personal stories from young carers, an internet forum for young carers and information on seminars for young carers.
 Pro-aidants Switzerland: Contains an information hub on issues that affect carers and information on how to use technology (app) to organize care. No specific mention of young carers.

 Germany: Special attention on self-help and use of technology to help with care. Aims to achieve greater attention and support to children and young people who have great care responsibilities. Part of the JUMP network emerged from a project funded by the EU Commission: ToYAC – Together for Young Adult Carers.
 Edinburgh Young Carers UK: Organised activities, discussions, support and a chance to meet other young carers. One to one time with a worker. Residentials & Day Trips. Young Carers’ Forum. Schools Awareness. Drug Alcohol Misuse Project.
 HONEYPOT UK: Support for young carers in the 5-12 age range. Respite breaks. Learning breaks. Outreach & inclusion. Wellbeing fund. It is evident from the above examples that each project is unique in what it offers. Also, from the website research, it seems that, probably, only in Britain projects exist that concentrate specifically and exclusively on young carers.

1. The Concept of “Best Practice”: A brief overview of its meanings, scope, uses, and shortcomings. Article in International Journal of Disability Development and Education  September 2011

2. Are Best Practices Really Best? A Review of the Best Practices Literature in Library and Information Studies. Article in Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice · December 2013
3. Young Carers in Europe An Exploratory Cross-National Study in Britain, France, Sweden and Germany Saul Becker (editor)
Jo Aldridge, Diarmuid Brittain, Jochen Clasen, Berthold Dietz, Arthur Gould, Linda Hantrais. Loughborough University, Young Carers Research Group in association with the European Research Centre 1995

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