Breaking down barriers for young carers in London
Naheeda Rahman, a medical student at UCL, explains an important pilot initiative underway in London to better support young carers in healthcare environments.
“Carers are vital to the health of the person they care for and indispensable to the NHS. Every year they save the NHS around £132 billion. An estimated 1 in 12 secondary school pupils are young carers – that means, under 18 and assisting in the care of a relative or friend who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. They care out of love, duty and a necessity borne out of gaps in care services.
Although young carers are integral to our society, they remain largely hidden. The impact that being a young carer can have has been well documented. It’s known that they’re more likely to develop physical and mental illness, and will have less success in education than their peers. Despite this, there are few initiatives specifically targeting young carers within healthcare settings.
In London, we’re challenging this by piloting identification cards for young carers. With it, we aim to address some of the barriers faced by young carers when it comes to accessing healthcare in London.
We started with a series of interviews with healthcare professionals in paediatric and adult care and with young carers. We explored their perceptions of young carers’ rights and the support they need. We also involved young carers in a workshop focused on their rights within the NHS. Six major themes emerged, with identification being the biggest obstacle for young carers trying to access appropriate support, such as information and training.We found six predominant themes: identification, support, awareness, family dynamic, young carer’s voice, impact.
The results highlighted that because they were not easily identified as a young carer when in a healthcare setting they were unable to get the care and the support they needed. The idea of an identification card for young carers grew from there…Read on