Young carers in Sheffield reveal the struggles they face looking after loved ones

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GPs should watch out for young carers and give them help and support, says a health watchdog.

Healthwatch Sheffield found young carers had unique experiences different to older carers and were significantly less likely to be involved in discussions about their relatives.

One said: “My dad suffers from physical and mental disabilities. I have been caring for him as long as I can remember but I wasn’t recognised as a carer until I was 12.”

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Another added: “It feels like people are naturally protective because we are children but what are they protecting us from? It should be easier to get information about my dad’s conditions from health services.”

GPs should look out for young carers, claims Healthwatch SheffieldGPs should look out for young carers, claims Healthwatch Sheffield
GPs should look out for young carers, claims Healthwatch Sheffield

Young carers can offer valuable knowledge about the person they care for. One said: “I have had a good experience with my GP.

"I was with my mum at a GP appointment and the doctor included me in the conversation.

"It was the same at the dentist, I told him I was a young carer and when my mum had a seizure he called me in to help.”

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One said: “My caring has changed as I have, when I was young I was anxious all the time, what if something has happened to dad, what will I find when I get back home.

“As I got older, I got more distanced from other people, I focused on showing up at school, putting a smile on my face and getting home as soon as I could so that I felt like I was helping. My caring is linked to struggles I have in my life more recently.”

Young carers felt that GPs are generally friendly and they were significantly more likely than older carers to be given an information pack.

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One person: “It helps if the GP actually acknowledges me when I am in the room, my GP made sure I understood what was happening.

"A lot of information is complicated, and they need to make sure we understand about the terms of their condition properly.”

Healthwatch said GPs should identify, acknowledge and support young carers.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

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