Young Carers Take Action to Review Statutory Young Carers Needs Assessments in North Tyneside
All young carers are entitled to, by law, a young carers needs assessment, carried out by a local authority professional. The assessment aims to understand the young carers caring role, their support network and any other support needed to ensure positive physical health, mental health and emotional wellbeing. North Tyneside Council worked with the Carers’ Centre to ensure that the original assessment documentation was developed by young carers and included, one form for 5-11 year olds and another for over 12’s, to ensure it was age appropriate. These are now due for review to ensure they are up to date, current and in keeping with what young carers need and want from a needs assessment.
North Tyneside Council wanted young carers to be involved in this process. Therefore a group of young carers who access North Tyneside Carers’ Centre’s groups, activities or family support service, some who have had a recent needs assessment, got together over zoom with Claire Easton, CEO at North Tyneside Carers’ Centre, to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions about the current format of the needs assessment. We are keen for any changes we make to our activities, or that is made to council services aimed at young carers, that young people are consulted in this decision making. This demonstrates youth participation in action.
Claire Easton begun going through the document, and the young people described how they felt during their needs assessment and where things could be done differently. They explored how each question could be interpreted by a young person, and discussed ways questions could be phrased to ensure the assessor fully understands the young person’s caring role. They participated using the chat box facility on zoom, thumbs up or thumbs down reactions and by giving their thoughts verbally. This ensured that every young person was able to participate in the call in a way that was comfortable and accessible to them. The young carers who attended reiterated the importance of being fully involved in the needs assessment process, being able to see the assessment before it is sent off and ensuring it is completed as they want. They also discussed a caring role becoming “normal” for young carers, and sometimes it can be difficult to identify the support they need. This is why it is important the young carers’ needs assessment guides them through the process towards accessing appropriate support, and that the professional facilitating the assessment is able to ask the appropriate questions to understand the impact caring has on the young carer. “If you live in a situation for so long it becomes normal to you rather than acknowledging them as adult situations. Maybe include examples of things like managing money, bills, shopping, that a normal young person wouldn’t have to deal with”, one young person explained. We collected all of their ideas and suggestions from this session, and will feedback to North Tyneside Council. The young carers views will then go into rewriting sections of the needs assessments to be facilitated to young carers in the future.
Claire Easton advised; “I welcomed the opportunity to meet with the young people and hear their views and experiences of young carers needs assessments. Their feedback will influence change and the experiences for other young carers in the future. We will continue to work in partnership with North Tyneside Council to feed in young carers experiences and improve early identification and support for young carers.”
Do you work with young carers? Are you a local authority professional? Do you work with young people in a school or Children’s Services organisation? If you would like more information about how the young carers needs assessments and support please contact us on (0191) 643 2298 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.