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Young people speak up about the improvements they want to see in the health and care services they use

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Healthwatch Gloucestershire, Local Healthwatch

A new report out today from Healthwatch Gloucestershire, presents young people’s recommendations for how Gloucestershire’s health and care services can improve the way they support and care for young people.

The recommendations are based on feedback gathered from young people by Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s volunteer Young Listeners, via online surveys and face-to-face meetings. Young people were asked about their experiences of using health and social care services and the changes they would like to see, particularly around mental health, relationships, and GP care.

Eighty-five responses were recorded and analysed by the Young Listeners, and key themes and ideas for change were identified. Their findings have been shared with Gloucestershire’s health and social care decision makers to help them understand what matters to young people and how services could better meet their needs.

Key themes

Young people feel they are not always taken seriously or listened to by their GP.

“I feel like I have to exaggerate my symptoms, especially with my mental health, and wish I didn’t have to do that to be taken seriously.”

Services are focused more on providing critical care than early intervention.

“There needs to be more preventative measures to stop mental health issues spiralling into early adulthood.”

Young people feel that most social care services are aimed at a ‘younger audience’ (children and young teens), and less at young people who are no longer in education.

“The older I get the harder (relationships) are to make.”

There are few services that help young people with the emotional and physical transition into adulthood.

“I would feel a little bit embarrassed to ask for help. It’s not spoken about a lot so I would feel like I’m the only one that has a problem in their relationship.”

Young people said their experience of moving from children’s services into adult services was not positive, including poor communication between services.

“[Needing to] restart every step every time I go to a new service is emotionally draining.”

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on young people’s lives, including maintaining and making new relationships and mental health.

“No break from COVID being the topic of conversation, worrying about lots of different things COVID related, and coping strategies weren’t always accessible.” “I felt very lonely.”

Most young people do not know what services they are entitled to or have access to.

Young people want to be involved in promoting and creating health and care services that are aimed at them.

Changes young people want to see

  1. More support groups and hubs should be set up for young people who have left education.
  2. Educational institutions and other youth focused organisations would benefit from having a directory of local services that are available for young people, and staff available to provide information, guidance, and support.
  3. GP surgeries need to be more approachable for young people and have a better understanding of the pressures they face and the impact this has on their physical and mental health. It would be helpful to have an area for young adults, including resources and staff to engage and support them.
  4. Services should be designed to provide young people with mental health support whenever they need it, not just when things become critical. Early intervention could reduce the stress on emergency services and help prevent young people needing mental health care in the future.
  5. Young people should be involved in making decisions about the health and care services aimed at them. Their input could help make these services more welcoming and accessible.
  6. Clearer lines of communication are needed between health and care services. Improving the referral process or having one GP assigned to a young person would help to create a better relationship and build trust between services and young people.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, Helen Webb, said:

“We believe that health and social care services can best improve if they listen to the experiences of those they care for. With the help of our fantastic Young Listeners we have been able to give young people in Gloucestershire the opportunity to share their stories and discuss how they feel about the services they use. We have given them a platform to share their ideas and influence changes that will improve young people’s health and care experiences in the future. Thanks to all the young people who took part and to our Young Listeners for delivering such a positive project in a year that has been so challenging due COVID-19. We will now work with health and social care services to make sure your feedback is heard and used to make care better for young people.”

Becky Parish, Associate Director, Engagement and Experience, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Firstly congratulations to Healthwatch Gloucestershire Young Listeners (Abs, Robyn, Sascha and Todd) and Youth Engagement Officer (Jessica) for an excellent project and report. The new One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System (from 1 July 2022) is placing a huge emphasis on working with people and communities and hearing about areas and issues they want the ICS to consider as it develops a new strategy for next year. This report comes at an excellent time to influence this from a young persons’ perspective. It is clear from the report recommendations that young people want services and support organised in ways that are more accessible and relevant to them.”

Read the report to find out more: How would young people in Gloucestershire improve the health and care services they use?

You can share your feedback about any aspect of Gloucestershire’s health and social care services with Healthwatch Gloucestershire:

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