NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have this month launched a new ‘Handy Health Guide’ to support young people leaving care to know where to access medical treatment and how to look after their mental health and wellbeing.
The card, brain child of Tom, one of the care leavers actively involved with the Hull City Council Care Leaver team, aims to help young people who have spent time in Local Authority Care navigate the often confusing health service.
Angie Rawling, Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children at NHS Hull CCG said: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate that through our work with care leavers we have been able to recognise an extra way to support this, often vulnerable, group of young people to lead happy and healthy lives.
“Taking on the advice of Tom, who had created a card of his own with key telephone numbers and information on for use in emergency situations, we’ve developed an easy to understand card which can be used by any young person as a starting point for medical help and advice.”
The A3 information sheet, which folds down to credit card size, features information on where to access medical advice and treatment in Hull and healthy lifestyle information. This includes advice around looking after yourself at home, visiting the pharmacy and registering with a GP, plus when to attend the Bransholme Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) or the Emergence Department.
The card also hosts information on stop smoking services, sexual health services, domestic abuse support and the mental health services available in the city and how young people can look after their mental health and wellbeing.
Phil Morris, Personal Advisor (Local Offer) for the Care Leaver Team at Hull City Council said: “We know that young people who have gone from living in local authority care or with foster carers, to living on their own, can sometimes struggle with the things we take for granted like booking an appointment with their doctor or registering with a dentist.
“This Handy Health Guide will act as the perfect pointer for the young people we work with so if they’re not sure who to ask about something or where to go for help and support, they have something to refer to; a starting point at their fingertips which doesn’t need internet access and is easy to understand.”
Phil added: “The information around mental health is also invaluable – it covers everything from community groups that can support people to be mentally well right through to how to get professional support. We know it can be hard for young people to ask for help so this card is going to be a brilliant conversation starter for us and the young people we support.”
Georgie Taylor, Care Leaver Champion at Hull City Council said: “As a care leaver it has been great to be involved in making this card. We’ve worked with the CCG to make sure that it fits our needs and it takes in to consideration the different circumstances we might face having left care.
“Even small things, like adding in when a phone number is free to call or how to get support paying for prescriptions, will make a big difference to some young people. The mental health information is so important and now we have a way to share this with all care leavers without them feeling embarrassed or put on the spot.”
Cllr Gwen Lunn, Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Adult Social Care, said: “We know young people can often feel like adults make decisions about them without their involvement. What’s fantastic about the health card is that they are something entirely owned by young people, from conception through development – they have said ‘we need this’ and the adults in the room have said ‘ok, tell us how to do it’.
“Taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing is an essential part of becoming an adult, but it’s not easy. The cards bring together all the information, websites and numbers you need to be organised in terms of registering with organisations and booking appointments, as well as those numbers you might need in an emergency”.
Over the coming months the Handy Health Guide will be distributed to care leavers across the city – hopefully reaching all 500+ young people who identify as a care leaver.
[Melissa Cooper – NHS Hull CCG]