CCG focus on vulnerable young carers to ensure they get the support they need to stay well
9th June 2017 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in
To mark Carers Week Leicester City CCG, The Carers Centre and Barnardo’s have launched a fresh initiative to identify as many young carers as possible so that they can be given the health support they need.
Young carers in are one of the most vulnerable groups of patients in the city due to the majority being socially isolated and at high risk of developing health problems themselves. As a result, work is taking place within local GP practices and the community to encourage more appropriate young people to recognise themselves as a carer.
This work coincides with Carers Week which runs between Monday 12th and Sunday 18th June 2017.
In Leicester there are currently only 40 young carers registered with GPs – but it is estimated that there are over 5,000 young people in the city who under 18 years old and are either a full or part-time carer for a parent or family member. This means that the person they care for could not cope if the young person was not providing support for them on a daily basis.
The majority of these young people do not identify themselves as a carer, are reluctant to tell other people or their friends that they have caring responsibilities, are socially isolated and are also more likely to have a mental health problem such as depression or general ill health.
Furthermore, the majority of young carers do not have regular contact with their GP practice unless they attend with the person they are caring for, which means identifying them is much harder than identifying adult carers.
Through The Carers Centre and Barnardo’s, the CCG has access to carers groups and community events to educate young people and explain the importance of them getting the support they need. They also explain that asking for support is nothing to be embarrassed about and it’s not a failure. Support is essential to enable them to continue caring for their loved ones who rely on them.
Once registered, young carers have access to support from their GP practice as well as receiving a referral to Barnardo’s, which provide tailored packages of support, including service co-ordination, advocacy, one to one work, support with school or college, group work, and grants. .
Dr Sulaxni Nainani, GP lead for carers at Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Young people may not even recognise themselves or identify themselves as a carer because they have never known anything different and if they do, they won’t tell anyone because they feel embarrassed or they feel they might get bullied or thought of differently by their friends at school. Most young people don’t have regular contact with their GP unless they attend with the person they care for and it is at this point that GPs are being supported to register them as a carer and talk to them about the support available to them.
“We have a huge task to get young people registered, but by working in this joined up way with each and every one of our practices and in partnership with The Carers Centre and Barnardo’s, we are taking a big step in the right direction.’
Every year Barnardo’s works with over 500 young carers aged 19 and under in Leicester and Leicestershire. The average age of a young carer is 12 and many care alone for a family member who had a chronic illness, disability or problematic use of alcohol or drugs.
Nikki Thompson, Bernardo’s Children’s Services Manager said; “It is so important for young carers and those they care for to advise their GP of their home circumstances. By registering with their surgery, young carers can be signposted to support services such as ours and GPs can also monitor the young carers’ own health, as well as the health of the person they care for. We know that sometimes health professionals are reluctant to talk to young carers about the health of the person they care for and this is why we have an ID card available to young carers that authorises GPs and other health workers to talk to young carers and respect their role as a care giver.”
Hollie is 12 and cares for her mum, Claire, who has a range of physical disabilities which affect her mobility and cause her constant pain which in turn has led to depression. Barnardo’s is working with the family to help them to move to more suitable accommodation. They have also helped with a series of grants to enable Claire and Hollie to have quality time out together and pay for Hollie to access a local dance club.
Hollie said; “I’m proud to be the carer for my mum and it is important that doctors recognise that I know more about mum’s health and how it affects her on a day to day basis than they do and that they listen.”
Awareness sessions for practice staff, provided by The Carers Centre are also taking place across the city to raise awareness of the specific needs of young carers and how the GP practice can best support them.
For more information please visit the Caring for Carers pages on the Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group website or visit http://www.claspthecarerscentre.org.uk/home or https://www.barnardos.org.uk/carefree
Please note the case study has been anonymised.
*A carer is someone who helps another person with their day-to-day life and ultimately the person being cared for could not cope without the support of their carer.