Developing the Carers’ Alert Thermometer for Young Carers (CAT-YC)


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: There are approximately 215,000 young carers in the UK, providing 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 remain hidden from official
statistics. The care provided by young people may be long or short term, and when they have
unmet needs arising from their caring role, this can impact on their health, well-being,
education and transitions into adulthood. It is imperative, therefore, that young carers are
triaged for support at an early stage, with ongoing monitoring to ensure they have the best
opportunities to flourish.
Aim: The aim of this doctoral study was to identify areas of burden experienced by young
carers aged 11-18 and use their views and professionals’ views to develop the Carers’ Alert
Thermometer for Young Carers (CAT-YC). The CAT-YC will act as a short screening tool to
triage young carers to appropriate support, or a full assessment of needs, with the additional
opportunity for ongoing monitoring of any unmet needs they may have.
Methodology: A pragmatic, mixed-method, multi-phased, consensus approach utilising
qualitative and quantitative data collected sequentially from a purposive sample of young
carers and professionals via a focus group, interviews, a Delphi survey and consensus group
Findings: Data from 26 young carers (n=17 individual interviews; n=9 focus group) were
thematically analysed and developed into the first round of a 4 round Delphi survey. This was
completed either online or at small group meetings by 96 participants in round 2 (n=68
professionals; n=28 young carers) and 110 participants in round 3 (n=74 professionals; n=36
young carers). In round 4, a further 19 members of an expert panel (n=11 young carers; n=8
professionals with a national or regional strategic role in young carer support) reviewed and
ranked the final items for the CAT-YC. It was then piloted by three organisations working with
young carers and a short evaluation of the pilot study (n=6 professionals; n=4 young carers)
tested the readability and usability of the CAT-YC.
Date of Award11 Dec 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorKATHERINE KNIGHTING (Director of Studies), BARBARA JACK (Supervisor) & MARY O'BRIEN (Supervisor)


  • Young carer
  • Delphi
  • Mixed-methods
  • Screening Tool
  • Assessment of Needs

Cite this