Carers Week runs from 8-14 June and is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
Amanda Street, Elizabeth Clayton and Catherine Edmondson give healthcare advice and support to young carers in Walsall whilst also working alongside Senior Youth Workers Fiona Wilson and Keiron Atkins to help raise awareness.
Specialist Community Public Health Practitioner Amanda said:
“We are working towards all young carers being offered a health assessment. We have listened to them and at present are looking at making links with GPs, schools and local hospitals to raise their understanding of what a young carer is and how to identify them.”
“We have recently completed some work with them to find out what services they want which you can see here. They would also like to do workshops for Health Professionals and other Multi-disciplinary Team members on how they can support and recognise young carers.”
This year, carers across the country are continuing to face new challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many people are taking on more caring responsibilities for their relatives and friends who are disabled, ill or older and who need support.
Community Staff Nurse Elizabeth said:
“Working during the pandemic has been challenging. We usually attend a youth group on Wednesdays however we have had to think of other ways to make contact. We are currently holding weekly virtual meetings with our youth workers to review and assess how often we need to make contact with the young carers.”
Senior Community Nursery Nurse Catherine added:
“The pandemic has given us a chance to make links with our secondary schools and we are looking at piloting a drop in session for young carers in the future. We are also looking at doing a school assembly which might help us identify more young carers. “
From the regular phone calls the team is having colleagues identified that young carers feel:
- their own health needs are being forgotten
- they are struggling as they can’t leave the home environment as parents are shielding
- they are missing coming to their youth group on Wednesday evenings
When asked what they like most about their job they said:
“Working with the young carers is rewarding. The relationship can take time to develop but once they feel they can trust us they openly come and talk to us about any issues that they may have. This has been even more apparent during the pandemic when some young carers have been asking for weekly calls to check in with us.
“It has also taken a while to get the recognition that the young carers deserve and we can finally see how other professionals are recognising the importance too.”
And on the other hand the most difficult part of the job is:
“The time that we can focus on the young carers is limited due to service demand, the more we attend and build relationships at the youth group we can see how the roles could develop so much further.”
The team would like everyone to know that young carers often feel that they are overlooked, not recognised and undervalued. People can be generally ignorant to how vital their role is.
“Many young carers don’t see themselves as young carers and see the things that they do as normal and what anyone else would do when in reality it isn’t normal. They have a lot on their shoulders whilst being so young and deserve recognition for what they do”.
If you or your department need any information regarding Young Carers please contact the team who are based at Harden Health Centre by phone on 01922 423349 or by email:
- Specialist Community Public Health Practitioner, Amanda Street – Amanda.Street@walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk
- Community Staff Nurse, Elizabeth Clayton – Elizabeth.Clayton@walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk
- Senior Community Nursery Nurse, Catherine Edmondson – Catherine.Edmondson@walsallhealthcare.nhs.uk