'I lost all faith' - Young carer shares 'stress' of N&N experience

Lucy Humphries was flown to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where she died. Picture: Nick B

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is working to improve training and systems to support young carers. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk hospital is stepping up its work to improve identifying and supporting young carers after a teenager raised concerns those looking after loved ones are not involved or listened to.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital heard from James, 17, whose mum was admitted to the hospital last September.

The teenager has been her main carer since he was seven, helping her with her medication, chores around the house and food shopping.

He said the experience left him worried about his mum going into hospital again as he could not find out what was going on as he was not next of kin.

James said: "She then moved ward, that's when things started going downhill. I didn't feel I was getting listened to.  

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"The experience put a lot of stress on me. She called me at midnight on a school night in floods of tears because nobody was listening to her.

"I lost all faith in the hospital treating her the way they were and not really listening to me either no matter how many times I said 'I'm the main carer, I am the one that is looking after her.'"

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He asked the trust to recognised the "triangle of care" and involve carers in the process of treatment and discharge plans set out between the patient and their clinician.

Ruby Allen, the trust's patient engagement and experience facilitator, said training had been put in place and in the future carers' names would be added to its electronic patient records. 

Miss Allen said: "We recognise that young carers are not identified or acknowledged as consistently as adult carers at the trust.

"We have identified we need to raise awareness of who young carers are and the support we should be providing to enable them to continue in their caring role.

"There is feedback that young carers are not seen in their caring roles as much as they are perhaps the child of the patient that is attending."

Caring Together, which is leading the training, praised the hospital for its "proactive" approach. 

Andy McGowan, head of carer services, said: “What they are now doing means changes are being made and the experiences of carers, including young carers, and the people they look after can be better in the future.

“What happened with James shows how young carers, or carers of any age, may not be recognised and range of significant effects this may have."

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