Young carers are often left feeling isolated when their caring responsibilities prevent them from accessing the same opportunities as their friends. Find out what one local Healthwatch has been doing to understand more about young carers’ experiences and raise awareness of the problems they face.

Stressed boy

We spoke to Healthwatch Derbyshire to find out more.

What made you look into this issue?

We heard from people locally that young carers felt isolated, unsupported and overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

We wanted to find out more about the role of young carers in our community and to see whether they were getting the support they needed.

What did people tell you?

When we spoke to young carers, we found that:

  • Support is valued but is too short-term
    Counselling, events and opportunities for peer support are highly valued but carers are only allowed to access these services for a six month period.
  • GPs need better understanding of young carers’ needs
    People told us their GPs do not talk to them about the people they care for and many people are not registered as a carer at their surgery.
  • Better support in school
    Many were concerned over difficulties doing homework, getting to school on time, and general achievement and that schools are not aware of the issues they face.
  • Poor access to support
    Some people said that they had been waiting a long time for support. One person had only just been allocated a social worker after seven years. There were also concerns that when their social workers were on holiday they would not be able to receive any support and were told that they would have to wait.

What did you do?

We wrote a report detailing what people had told us and shared this with Service Providers and Commissioners across Derbyshire, including Derbyshire County Council, Public Health, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Derbyshire Community Health Services, Derbyshire Health United, GPs, and Chesterfield Royal Hospital. It was also presented at the Carers Commissioning Board, The Adult Care Board, and the Health and Wellbeing Board.

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What happened as a result?

When it was presented at the Health and Wellbeing Board, Prem Singh, Chairman of Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (DCHS) expressed his concern at the experiences we had outlined and was keen that these should be used as a catalyst for change.

Together we ran a series of events to explore young carers’ concerns and how we could develop solutions. The events were attended by representatives from health and care services, the voluntary sector, public health, NHS commissioners and local authorities.

We asked each representative to make a pledge about how they will help improve the lives of young carers. Some examples from the day included:

“To put the needs of young carers at the heart of the Derbyshire Community Health Services Family Centred Care project.”

Mary Heritage, Assistant Director of Quality and Professional Lead for Allied Health Professions.

“To develop a local awareness campaign for young carers within primary and secondary care.”

Louise Swain, Head of Patient Experience North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

What’s happening next?

We have organised an event for the summer to celebrate how far the partnership has come, and to award certificates of recognition to those who have made progress with their pledges.

We have been really pleased with the commitment and enthusiasm from everyone we have been working with to make sure that young carers’ voices are heard.

We will continue to raise awareness of the difficulties young carers face to make sure that they are supported in the right ways.

Read more about experiences of carers in Derbyshire in their 2014 report.

© Healthwatch Derbyshire 2021

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