CCG’s work highlighted the need for further support for young carers
23rd January 2018 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in Carers
To mark Young Carers Awareness Day Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is sharing some of the latest work carried out with young carers, which has enabled GP practices to support them better to stay safe and well, whilst caring for another.
Young Carers Awareness Day falls on Thursday 25th January and is organised by The Carers Trust.
Young carers in Leicester 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 physical and mental health problems themselves. As a result, over the past six months, work has been taking place within local GP practices and the community to encourage young people in a caring role to recognise themselves as a carer and to find out about the help and support they need.
Young carers aged from 12 to 16 years old, across Leicester were invited to take part in a survey so local health services could learn more about the difficulties they face on a daily basis. This included the amount of time spent caring, the health conditions that young carers provide support for, the type of tasks they undertake as well as the impact of the caring role on young carers.
The survey found that on average 50 per cent of young carers spend about four hours a day supporting a loved one with physical disabilities and heart conditions. The survey identified that the main source of support for the young carer came from other family members or a neighbour but they themselves still suffered with stress, feeling lonely, anxious and had trouble concentrating at school, or missed school completely.
Feedback was gathered from young carers through the survey as well as the Young Carers Forum. The forum was set up in the city by Healthwatch Leicester, Barnardo’s and Leicester City CCG, last year, at the same time as the survey, to give young people in a caring role a voice and invite them to shape primary care services so they better meet their needs and the needs of the person they care for.
As a result, Leicester City CCG is encouraging young carers to come forwards and tell their GP they look after someone else so GP practices across Leicester can ensure that young carers will have access to a wide range of practical and emotional support, as well as the possibility flexible appointment times, which fit around their daily responsibilities.
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.
Through local organisations 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 through the GP practice, 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: “Speaking to young carers and finding out about the challenges they face on a daily basis has allowed us to better understand their lifestyle. We have been able to share this feedback with our GP practices. The survey highlighted a number of key areas that we as health professionals can help with.
“By using language young people will understand, giving them a place talk privately and ensuring that any anxiety or depression is handled appropriately, GPs can better support them to stay well and continue to care safely for a loved one. Having the links to Barnardo’s is a life line for some of these young carers.”
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.”
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.