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How household context shapes the caring experiences of young adult carers living in the United Kingdom

Bou, Camille Laurence Putheany (2024) How household context shapes the caring experiences of young adult carers living in the United Kingdom. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004645


Young adult carers are individuals aged 16-25 years old, providing unpaid care to family members with chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health conditions, and/or substance abuse problems. Evidence suggests that young adult carers have poorer outcomes in mental and physical health, and education and employment relative to their non-carer peers. However, a gap remains in our knowledge about the heterogeneity of caring situations, and how they may influence young adult carers’ caring experiences. Rooted in sociological and economic theories of unpaid care provision and household division of labour, this four-paper thesis explores the role of household context in shaping the different care experiences of young adult carers. The first paper is a systematic review of 54 primary studies to identify factors influencing the quality of life of young adult carers and measures to assess young adult carers’ social care related quality of life. Findings suggest that young adult carers’ quality of life is influenced by 1) how they perceive their role within the family and how they identify as carers; 2) the social support they receive from formal and unpaid networks; 3) the nature and intensity of their caring demands and their impact; and 4) the development of coping strategies. The study found that no social care related quality of life measure validated with young adult carers currently exists. The second paper examines available adult social care datasets for data containing information about young adult carers and the limitations of those datasets. Using the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre’s Catalogue of Social Care Data, 20 datasets out the 45 uploaded onto the CASID containing information about young adult carers. Out of these datasets, 189 provision measures and 84 receipt measured were found with harmonisation potential. Nonetheless, further explorations of these datasets must be conducted to test the sample sizes of young adult carers in these datasets and the level at which harmonisation can be achieved. The third paper investigates the socio-demographic factors associated with caring status of young people as they age from 16 to 25, and how the significance of these factors changes between the ages of 16 and 25. A longitudinal binary logistic regression model was conducted using data from nine waves of the dataset Understanding Society. The study found that sex, ethnicity (specifically Black and Asian ethnicity), employment status (specifically paid employment and student/training), education level, long-term health or disability, mental and physical health scores, household monthly gross income, housing tenure and household size were statistically significantly associated with carer status. Finally, the fourth paper explores how young adult carers’ experience and made sense of their household’s division of labour. Twenty-three semi-structured interviews with young adult carers living in selected areas in England were conducted and analysed using framework analysis. Patterns of labour division were found, separated into the ways in which decisions were made and the ways in which those decisions were implemented. The factors influencing the division of household labour and the care intensity of the young adult carer included the illness of the care-recipient, the care experience and specialisation of the young adult carer, their agency and influence in conversations about the household division of labour, and their receipt of support. Young adult carers experienced their care differently based on the patterns of their household division of labour, with shared responsibility for household labour usually associated with better satisfaction from young adult carers. Despite differences in satisfaction, most young adult carers saw themselves caring in the future alongside the pursuit of their aspirations. The findings of the four papers highlight the importance of household context in shaping young adult carers’ caring experiences, from the drivers of their provision of care to their day-to-day caring responsibilities, and their thoughts of future care provision alongside their aspirational pursuits. While the differences between young adult carers and young adults of the same age who do not provide unpaid care are known, this thesis provides evidence that the study of differences between carers should focus on factors in their household context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2024 Camille Laurence Putheany Bou
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Departments > Health Policy
Supervisor: Knapp, Martin and Malley, Juliette

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