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Student carer - Carers UK Forum

Student carer

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Greetings carers, I am in my qualifying year as a full-time post-graduate student social worker. I've been a full-time carer for 5 years and was a single parent for 11 years before that. I don't have permission to share information that might identify my disabled adult, so please forgive me if some of what I write is a bit stilted. The disability is severe, caused by chronic illness and while there is a Care Plan, it is funded by Direct Payments which means I manage the budget and do all the hiring and firing on top of providing free accommodation and escorting to medical appointments etc.

I joined this forum because I have needed support while battling with my academic institution for proper recognition of the extent of my caring responsibilities. My university doesn't have a policy for student carers (although it has a good policy for staff with caring responsibilities). If there is anyone on here who is going through anything like me, it would be good to hear from you. How did you get extra time for assessments/caring? Did you miss any deadlines? What happened if you did? Did you feel as if you were being taken to the wire every time? How did you cope with the stress? How did the person you care for cope with your stress?!? Does your place of study have a policy for student carers?
Sarah
Welcome to the forum. We have a newly retired lecturer in our midst, I'm sure she will be along presently with very good advice.
Hi Sarah
Welcome to the forum. Following up from Bowlingbun's comments, I've been on both sides of the fence. I've helped students get through their degree issues and have had to ask for help with my own studies while caring. I'm just coming to the end of some studies I started in 2006!
It sounds as though you have a great deal on your plate to cope with even before taking academic qualifications, but these are really important for your future so don't give up.
Although it might not feel like it a the moment, universities come across students in many different situations and have a responsibility to help you. Remember you are paying for all their services!!
Carers who work have to be treated in accordance with employment law, but as students there are regulations that the university has to follow and it's a case of finding a way through the regs to support the needs of the individual.
If you haven't done so already, go and talk to your personal tutor about your circumstances. Your PT is your 'advocate' so it's really important that you keep him/her up to date with your situation. If you know you're going to have difficulty with an assignment deadline because of your caree's health, the PT will point you towards university regs and the paperwork to complete to get extenuating circumstances applied. If you need personal support, like counselling, the PT can support a referral. Don't dismiss this idea, as seeing a counsellor can give you ammunition for extenuating circumstances/interruption.
Also come clean with the programme and course leaders, especially if you are missing lots of taught sessions. Nowadays there are lots of ways to keep up to date using online materials. But, if you miss too much be aware that they might suggest an interruption to give you time to deal with caring matters.
The most difficult area to accommodate is a professional placement. Again, make sure your tutors know in advance if there are likely to be difficulties with not fulfilling this.
Universities are big organisations and they rely on paperwork to keep track of thousands of students. It's a pain but you will need to complete forms and provide evidence of hospital appointments etc as proof of supporting your caree - these should also be recognised as confidential. When I needed a series of extenuating circumstances I used a consultant's letter with details of my dad's condition and treatment plan. It went no further than my personal tutor and he signed the form to say the evidence was sufficient.
Beyond the tutors you can also ask for help from the students union. They can accompany you to any meetings if you are feeling concerned about your treatment.
I hope this helps. Just send me a PM if there's anything specific that I can help you with.
Good luck.
Jx