Celebrating Improvements To Young Carers’ Services

A 12 month partnership project to raise greater awareness of the plight of young carers in Derbyshire will culminate in a celebration event on Friday July 29 in Matlock.

An initial report last year by Healthwatch Derbyshire, the county’s health and social care watchdog, highlighted the experiences of many of the county’s 1,600 young carers. This led to a number of information sharing events and pledges by health and social care providers and commissions to improve access to and involvement in services across the county.

Healthwatch Derbyshire’s Celebration event at County Hall on July 29 will hear an update of service improvements from providers and commissioners and also the experiences of Letitia Evans-Minto (22) from Derby who was a young carer for her mother from the age of nine. Letitia explained: “As a child my perception of the world was completely distorted due to the adult decisions and problems I had to face. “I didn’t know I was a young carer. My mother’s mental health instability’s meant that some day’s tea was on the table, but other days it wasn’t. “However it was the mental impact of being the only other person for her to bounce off, seek help and support from. From the age of nine, I was the comforting voice, the voice of reason and the reassuring voice. “Luckily, other secure outlets like school, the Young Carers service and friendships helped me myself rationalise my home life where I felt like I was living in a parallel universe, isolated and unaware anyone knew of my struggles. “Young carer’s need stability, security and access to emotional maturity to help them process difficult situations. This can only be done through regular visits and activities as a group and individually. “They need a safe space to be themselves, have fun and talk about difficult things if they so wish. Isolation is the biggest threat to a young career and it is isolation that we must take action on.”

Her words were echoed by Prem Singh, Chair of Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (DCHS) He said: “We owe a debt to all the inspiring young people who show great strength in their informal role as carers. “We know they can miss out on lots of things like being able to develop friendships and feeling isolated.”

Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Karen Ritchie continued: “There is now far greater understanding about the needs of all our young carers thanks to the series of young carers’ summit meetings that we have organised in partnership with DCHC. “There is a real commitment amongst health and social care providers and commissioners to identify the individual needs of young carers early and to find ways to support them. “This celebration event will be an important milestone in the work underway and we hope that the momentum of enthusiasm continues to perpetuate to improve the lives of young carers.”

At the Celebration Event various health and social care organisations in the county including DCHC, Derbyshire County Council, North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Bolsolver Healthy Neighbourhoods Team and Derbyshire Youth Council will report on progress made under their pledges to improve services provided for young carers. The audience made up of health and social care providers from across the county will also hear from keynote speak Mavis Spencer, Deputy Director of Nursing for NHS England East who has a particular interest in young carers.

It will be followed by Healthwatch Derbyshire’s annual general meeting which will outline the organisation’s work over the past year and conclude with a workshop where health and social care providers will highlight the three priority areas for service improvements in the coming year.

Karen Ritchie explained that Healthwatch Derbyshire’s work in the past had included liaising with patients, service users and carers about their experiences of using child and adolescent mental health services as well as wider health and social care services in Derbyshire; cancer services; autism support; health services for people with learning disabilities, experiences of individuals living with a substance misuse. She concluded:  “Healthwatch Derbyshire ensures that the patient voice is listened to, and is a driving force for making sure that patients, service users and carers are put centre stage.  This ensures that service providers and commissioners listen to what they have to say and use their voice to shape, inform and influence service delivery and design. “Healthwatch Derbyshire collects comments from patients, service users and members of the public about their experience of using health and social care services and many of these reports have had a positive impact on service improvement.”

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