Healthwatch Derbyshire Celebrates Pledges To Improve Young Carers’ Lives

Health and social care watchdog Healthwatch Derbyshire has celebrated various organisations’ pledges that were made to improve the lives of the county’s 1,600 young people who are carers for a family member at home.

A 12 month partnership project to raise greater awareness of the plight of young carers in Derbyshire recently culminated in an event held at County Hall in Matlock where the pledges to improve the lives of young carers were marked with an awards ceremony.

Organisations commended for their commitment to improve information, services and the involvement of young carers in planning and delivering health and social care included Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Carers Association, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, East Midlands Ambulance Service, Action for Children and Derbyshire Health Care.

Pledges ranged from improved support for young carers by school nurses to improved information online and through social media. One of the speakers at the event was Letitia Evans-Minto (22) from Derby who was a young carer for her mother from the age of nine. Letitia explained:  “Young carers need stability, security and access to emotional maturity to help them process difficult situations. “Isolation is the biggest threat to a young career and it is this aspect of their lives that we must take action on. “The hardest thing for me was the mental impact of being the only other person for my mother 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.” Her words were echoed by Prem Singh, Chairman of Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation 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 DCHS. “This initiative has been an important and particularly successful aspect of our work to ensure that the voices of patients and service users are listened to. “Since we highlighted this issue 12 months ago, 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. “The celebration event was 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.”

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