With the Takeover Challenge grant from NHS England, Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire Young Carers Service were able to work together with young carers to explore the needs and experiences of young people under the age of 20 who care for someone and help them to make their voices heard. A full report about the project has now been published to mark Carers Week 2020 and support Northamptonshire Carers’ #CarersCan theme of ‘Drive Change’.
The Takeover Challenge was designed to connect young people with the NHS. By taking part in the project, Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire wanted to achieve the goals set out by NHS England, which included having a positive impact on how young people are involved in health and care priority setting, highlighting good practice, and demonstrating the value of working in partnership. They also wanted to recruit young carers to Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire so their voices continue to be heard by local service commissioners and providers.
The inclusion of young carers in Young Healthwatch meetings has brought a new dimension to the meetings. It has made everyone who interacts with the group consider how services could work better for young carers and their families. The young carers have grown in confidence and gained new skills while being part of a team and a sense of identity.
Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire also conducted a survey to gather the views and experiences from young carers about their emotional wellbeing and needs. They heard from 85 young carers between the ages of 11 and 19.
Almost two-thirds of young carers (64%) felt their caring role affected their emotional wellbeing or mental health. Over half had experienced the challenge of long waiting times when accessing a service and around a third felt they had not been given enough support or that the services did not know about their issues.
Whilst many young carers and non-carers experience mental health and emotional wellbeing difficulties, being a young carer can have an additional impact on mental health, which requires understanding from professionals and support services. Many young carers are far more resilient due to being carers from a young age and naturally developing coping strategies beyond their years.
“It has been so important for the Northamptonshire Young Carers Service to work in collaboration with Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire. Young carers often come into contact with many health and social care services, for themselves and for the people they care for. Their unique experiences are invaluable in helping to guide services and making sure that they accessible and appropriate for everyone. The opportunity to be part of Young Healthwatch has also positively impacted the young carers’ confidence and given them the chance to develop new skills and take part in new experiences.”
Philp Mayes, Senior Young Carer Worker at Northamptonshire Young Carers Service
“This has been a great piece of work between Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire Young Carers Service. It has helped highlight some of the issues young carers face in Northamptonshire and given them a chance to participate in a project to get the views of other young carers. It has helped bring a different perspective and dynamic to Young Healthwatch too and been a great learning exercise for everyone involved.”
Kate Holt, CEO of Healthwatch Northamptonshire
Take a look at the report:
About Northamptonshire Young Carers Service
A young carer is aged between 5 and 17 years. A young adult carer is aged between 18 and 25 years. They take on responsibility for helping to look after someone (usually a family member) who has a long-term illness or disability. This could include a physical disability, learning disability, mental health problem or substance misuse issue.
The Young Carers Service will assess a family on an individual basis taking into account that the impact of the young person’s role may differ depending on age and other family circumstances. The Young Carers Service offers one-to-one support, social activities, groups, advocacy and family support (such as signposting to relevant agencies).
Read more about Northamptonshire Young Carers Service: https://www.northamptonshire-carers.org/about-young-carers