Following on from my last post: while I’m still looking through all the notes from last week’s workshop, one of the young people who attended sent me this fantastic report of the day. Huge thanks to Ellen Thompson (aged 14) for writing this excellent overview, and for agreeing that I could publish it as a guest post. Now I just need to follow it!
Embedding children and young people’s participation in health and social care services
King’s College, London
A round-up of the presentations and discussions
Maggie Atkinson – Children’s Commissioner For England
Maggie Atkinson suggested that the NHS sees children as people whose opinion doesn’t count and this clearly must change as children and young people are big users of the NHS. She said that every child has the basic human right to have their voice heard and taken seriously in every aspect of their life including their health and social care. It was also suggested that for children to understand what health and social care they had, the information they were given had to be written in plain English. This would also help them to decide what rights they had.
She strongly suggested that children were experts in their own life and therefore should be able to put their views across to their health and social care services. Any form of participation had to reach both children living in rural and urban areas so their opinions from across the country could make a difference. It was also brought to our attention that when a child reaches 18 any extra support they were given is lost even though it is still needed.
Amanda Allard – Principal Officer, Council For Disabled Children
Amanda Allard said that children and young people are often so happy to receive any health or social care that they don’t feel that complaining is the right thing to do, even though it could help them and others. To make sure that children and young people take the advice given to them we must listen to them when they have any issues. To help the children and young people to feed back their views, they need to understand about how the NHS works and how to make complaints.
Investing In Children
Investing In Children is a partnership between the local authority in Durham and the NHS to promote the Human Rights of young people. They run various participation activities. They sent young people out to review local health and social centres to see if they were suitable for young people. This was called mystery shopping and the example given focused on sexual health. They would give feedback on how to improve services, and if the organisations followed this they would receive an award. This is a good way to get young people involved in participation as they don’t have to sit on a panel.
Association For Young People’s Heath – Be Healthy
Be Healthy was a project that got young people to try to show other young people and managers of health and social care services how the services should be run, so that young people would want to use them and would benefit fully from them. They also suggested that young adults should be able to talk about health issues they want to talk about, not what adults thought they should talk about.
Young Minds- VIK
The VIK or Very Important Kids’ panel was set up to try to improve mental health services for young people. They would do activities to raise awareness, and also talked to many mental health services. One girl who was part of VIK talked about how being part of participation had helped her become a lot more confident. She could now use public transport on her own; she also made lots of friends and felt she was more able to cope with her mental illness.
North Bristol Community Children’s Health Partnership
The HYPE (Helping Young People Engage) team of the North Bristol Community Children’s Health Partnership involve children in different levels of their local healthcare facilities, such as those for mental health, children’s therapists, disabled children and children in care. Projects the children and families are involved in include recruitment of staff, making art work and designing leaflets.
East & North Hertfordshire NHS trust
This project showed children from a school in Stevenage that the NHS is an exciting place, offering many career choices, not just those for doctors and nurses. The children who took part designed a new look for the Lister Hospital so it would appeal to teenagers aged 14-16. They then had to do a Dragon’s Den style presentation to managers at the hospital. This gave them the opportunity to develop their design skills, confidence and teamwork skills.
Pupils also ran a health awareness stall at a health action day, and will be involved in community work in the future.
The main points that came across through discussions were that participation should be a shared responsibly at all levels in health and social care services. All participants should be shown how their input actually helped. It was also important that the young people involved knew that there may be limitations to what could be achieved – and that everyone can have fun being involved.