Young Carers’ Voice Focus Group
Young carers are often an invisible group in our society, but they have valuable insights into health and social care. We worked with Barnardo’s Action with Young Carers Wirral to hold a second focus group in Dec 2021.
Before the session, we sent out a survey to ask the young carers what they would like to focus on, and how they feel about accessing health and social care. The top three topics chosen by the group were mental health, COVID-19 vaccinations for young people and GP access.
Trust was a theme highlighted by the young carers throughout the session. They discussed examples of times when they had lost trust in health and social care services, including feeling that doctors had let family members down, poor communication, needing time to trust mental health professionals, long waiting times and difficulties getting appointments due to COVID-19.
The group also gave suggestions on what services can do to build trust:
- Listening to young carers and taking them seriously
- Using language that young people will understand (without being patronising!)
- Explaining what the treatment will be beforehand
- Word of mouth – recommendations from other patients
“We’re with the GP. And my mum… she had to wait two whole days, but with the conditions that my mum’s got she could have ended up in hospital by the time they replied. And when my mom rings them now they say they’ll call back and reply, but they don’t respond or call back. So they’re not very trustworthy, reliable.” Young carer, aged 11
What changes do young carers want to see?
- Mental health: more time to build trust, better understanding of ‘safe spaces’, shorter waiting times, more whole-family support
- GP access: better access to face-to-face appointments, an easier process to change GP (especially during the pandemic), support to get to appointments
- COVID-19 vaccination: access to vaccines for under-12s (we met before this was introduced), accurate information from trusted sources to combat misinformation