A substantial part of young people in the Netherlands has a relative, family member or friend who is chronically ill. Amongst them is a group of young adults who combine going to college or university with caring responsibilities for a sick relative or friend. They are also known as ‘jonge mantelzorgers’ (young adult carers). So far, little is known about how their role as an informal caregiver affects their health and education. On the one hand, it is very well possible that these young adult carers need to be relieved of their caregiving duties so that they can finish their education in an optimal manner as well as within the given time frame. On the other hand, it is also plausible that the role of informal caregiver greatly increases their sense of responsibility and can therefore also have positive outcomes.
The expertise lab Young Informal Caregivers collaborates with students with caregiving tasks on ideas for interventions that can assist them and increase their resilience regarding their caregiving duties. Ultimately, they will be the ones who will call on supporting services (be it in an organizational, societal, material and/or digital way) to help them face the challenges of simultaneously following classes and giving care to a parent or sibling. The ultimate goal is to provide insights into the characteristics of these young adult carers, the problems they face and the support that they feel is necessary to help them to combine their study and caregiving tasks. By this we hope to level the playing field for all students’ academic careers and to help shape an inclusive and meaningful society.
Research is carried out in conjunction with the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA), Vilans, the Student Health Service of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and in collaboration with other organizations within the care and educational field. This way, new connections can emerge between the fields of care and education and we will gain new insights into the problems of students in urban areas. Additionally, we will be able to ascertain if the additional role of informal caregiver has a beneficial or detrimental effect on a students’ academic career. Because of the large consortium of participating organizations, the results of this study will be relevant for local and national stakeholders. As part of JOIN startimpuls program, the lab is funded by the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda.