Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) Young Carers’ project has been shortlisted for a prestigious Nursing Times Awards in the category of Public Health Nursing.
The HCT young carers’ project led by the HCT school nursing service and it set out to help identify young carers across Hertfordshire and West Essex and direct them to the right health and social care services where they can receive support. This will ensure that their physical and emotional health is supported as evidence suggests on average, young carers have poorer mental and physical health than their non-caregiving peers.
Through this project, the trust aimed to improve the ways in which young carers are identified – which is often the main barrier to young carers accessing support. Young carers find it difficult to make themselves known to professionals such as school nurses who can be best placed to refer them for support.
To reach the right people, HCT school nursing service chose three secondary schools spread across different areas with a diverse demographic and a range of ages. Through a series of workshops in the schools, 23 young carers worked on the project and helped to produce a young carers’ journal which can be personalised and help young people ‘speak up’ about being a young carer and communicate ‘their story’.
An animation video was also created with young carers which is currently being shown in schools to remind teachers about the challenges that young carers face.
HCT School Nurse Practice Teacher Andrea Spratling said: “Through this project we’ve worked hard to raise the profile of young carers in Hertfordshire and most importantly help them come forward to be identified and signposted for support.
“At the start of our project there were only 22 young carers identified in primary care in Hertfordshire and the young carer's team in Herts already has a long list of children waiting to be assessed. The idea of the booklet is that it can give these young carers some support whilst they are waiting for this to happen.”
A young carer, (who remains anonymous) aged 17 shared why it was important to them to be officially identified rather than ‘slipping through the net.’ They said: “During lockdown I didn’t go out for two years as I didn’t want to give to give COVID to the person that I care for. I also found it hard to understand why I couldn’t be vaccinated straightaway as a young carer - when I was 15.”
The animation video was led by the HCT school nursing service, with support from The Queen Nursing's Institute (QNI) that also supported the implementation of this project and helped plan and evaluate its effectiveness.
The winners of the Nursing Times Awards will be announced on Wednesday 25 October at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
Watch the video below: