We all know the difference it can make when someone just listens and really hears what you are saying. You don’t always need a solution, but as a health professional or support worker, you can change a life by helping someone to find the support that they may really need.
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family or a friend, unpaid, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. They can be siblings, sons and daughters, grandchildren, very young, not living with the person they care for or looking after more than one person. Young adult carers are young people aged 16-25 with unpaid caring responsibilities who are transitioning into adulthood.
This year, as part of my work in the Commitment to Carers team, I’ve been working with young and young adult carers to meet objectives in the NHS Long Term Plan. Specifically, to roll out “top tips” for general practice which have been developed by young carers, which include access to preventative health and social prescribing, and timely referral to local support services. Up to 20,000 young carers will benefit from this more proactive approach by 2023/24.
I and my colleagues have spoken to over 400 young and young adult carers in the last few months and from their hundreds of comments collated 5 top tips. Young carers say that GPs need to:
- Recognise that young carers have individual needs and shouldn’t all be treated the same.
- Think about the support and understanding a young carer may need.
- Listen and hear what young carers are saying.
- Avoid relying on young carers interpreting for the person they care for.
- Think about how you can make appointments more accessible; after school, double appointments etc.
We are working with colleagues in NHS England and Improvement, GPs and Primary Care Networks to look at how best to embed all 5 top tips in general practice and really make a difference to the experience of young carers. Each year I work with a group of Health Champions – young and young adult carers aged 16-24 who are empowered to have a voice and share their thoughts on how healthcare can support all young and young adult carers in continuing their role whilst at the same time achieving personal goals.
This year’s group felt they wanted to focus on one tip and chose number 3 – for healthcare professionals to listen and hear what young carers are saying. They felt strongly that if people truly listened to them for 5 minutes, it could have a huge impact on the care they and their family received.
They chose to write and sing an amazing song called “In just 5 minutes” which they produced in collaboration with Shared Harmonies CIC.
Today on Young Carers Awareness Day 2020 we are launching the song.
Please share this amazing song and watch out for more tips being launched over the next 12 months.
Paula started in the NHS in 1993 working in the private office of the Director of Policy for the NHS Executive. Most of her NHS career has been spent in nursing directorates within Primary Care Trusts.
She joined the NHS Commissioning Board in 2012 has PA/Business Manager in the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s private office. Moving to the Patient Experience team in 2014 and into the Leadership Support Manager role in 2018. This role has specific responsibility for young carers, young adult carers and carers in the armed forces.
You can follow Paula on Twitter: @CruisePM