Learning points

Now look again at Scott’s timeline, which also has learning points added.

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Figure 2.6 Scott’s timeline with learning points added

Scott’s learning points are linked to different areas of life, as well as over time. Very early on he realised that he enjoys learning and that gaining qualifications brings confidence.

He made it through some tough personal experiences and family troubles, and feels proud to have got through these difficult times. This made Scott feel resilient and he has learned how to look on the positive side of life.

Gaining support from the young adult carers group was a very positive experience. Scott learned that it was not good for him to stay isolated, and that being part of a supportive group has helped him develop his confidence. He has learned that his well-being is also supported by setting and achieving the physical goals of fundraising activities. These three boxes are part of Scott’s ‘ups’.

Listen to what Scott says about what he has learned from experience.

Download this video clip.Video player: scott_snippet.mp4
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I care for my wee brother its em, got epilepsy, suffers from epilepsy and he’s now 12.
Em being a carer and being a student both at the same time are quite challenging because you’ve got no social life in between that, you’ve got your studying, you’ve got to do your modules and preparing for essays, studying. But between that and working, em and coming home to, well for me like taking care of my wee brother, I’ve got to make sure he’s got his medication sorted, it’s prepared for the next day. That it’s all set out throughout the week even, not just for that day. Em, make sure he’s got enough of it, make sure he’s fed, make sure he’s got clean clothes, make sure his hygiene – all that sort of stuff. So it’s basically looking after another person, but it can be really challenging because your head can be in several different places at the one time. Because you could be sitting doing your essay, but you’re not home, so you could be sitting thinking like oh shit I need to go home and do this, this, this, this. So then you can’t actually think properly because you’re too busy thinking about, well I’m too busy thinking about my brother, if he’s alright, and I’ve got too much stuff to do.
Well I’m doing my HNC in Social Care the now in college, I’ve been in college for the past four years working towards it. Em but ideally I think I would like to work with children with mental health. Em just with the issues that I’ve had when I was younger. I’ve suffered from mental health issues myself, so I think from my own personal experiences, em the knowledge that I’ve gained from my course would benefit me from being in college for four years to learn about it. Em but what the idea is that I’ll leave college, do my HNC, finish that off, em go volunteer with kids with mental health issues and see how that goes. And if I still think that that’s the job, that I would like to take it further then I’ll take it on further, then go get my degree and things like that.
The idea is that I would like to work with children with mental health issues. So I’m planning to do that through volunteering to see if I can use my own personal experiences em from mental health issues and the knowledge I’ve got from college to em help me out with it. See if that’s really what I want to get into. Em because there’s no point in getting a job in it or a degree then finding that I can’t handle it. Yeah.
I kinda, I juggle the work because it’s, it’s a cleaning job and it kinda just, in a way, it keeps my mind off it because, it’s, I’m physically active and stuff and when I’m doing things for volunteering and stuff like that. Fair enough my wee brother’s still on my mind – it doesn’t leave, em but I feel good because I’m kind of giving something to somebody. It’s like usually charity events and stuff that I’ll do, em but it doesn’t really ever leave your mind that the person that you’re caring for...
From the past four years that I really struggled with my mental health and my physical well-being and everything, because I was right at the bottom, em, it was just, I’m pretty certain that it was my brother that kept me going. Because if it wasn’t for him, then, I don’t know, like, it kinda seems that I wouldn’t have a purpose sort of because it seems that he’s my purpose to be here and if I wasn’t here nothing would get done for him and he would be worse off so, I mean I wouldn’t want that. So he needs me and I need him sort of thing like that. And when I sat down and thought about it, I kind of thought like why am I being so selfish like doing things like I was. Em and thought that I just kind of need to get a grip on my life.
Well, from my experience of being a carer I think that I’ve became, from, definitely from where I was really, really down to where I am now, I’ve became, my physical and mental well-being is definitely so much better. I can handle things a lot better and juggle so much more things, it’s still, it’s still hard it doesn’t get any easier but I can certainly juggle issues a bit better. And when I get like the likes of bad news or something, I don’t really so much take, because I’ve always been told to look at the positives instead of the negatives - the positives instead of the negatives! [Laughs] - of things. But I mean that can be really hard but I feel like I’ve got better at doing that. Em I’ve just became more confident within myself and speaking to people and being more open about things that I’ve been through and what’s helped me to get through them and basically sharing what’s helped me.
End transcript
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Through reflecting on his experiences Scott realised that he applied his skills and personal qualities to manage his caring and studying responsibilities.

Here are some key comments from Scott’s story:

  • had very poor mental well-being for a while
  • managed to keep going with his studying and caring
  • benefited from the support from other young adult carers
  • tries to focus on the positive as much as possible.

Scott now has:

  • grown in confidence
  • recognises his own resilience and coping skills
  • an understanding of what he’d like to achieve and how to get there.

We all experience ups and downs in life: good points and bad points. There may be positive and negative outcomes from each experience as Lesley and Scott’s experiences show.

Whatever our experience, we are learning all the time. Learning is not something that stops when we leave childhood behind. Learning is lifelong. Some learning is about ourselves, the type of person we are, and our strengths and qualities; other learning is about skills, qualifications, understanding ideas and concepts, or the society we live in.

Can you identify what you have learned from looking at your own experience as a carer?

Everyone’s experience will be different. There is no right or wrong answer.