New ID cards recognise the role of young carers

Nottingham is only the second place nationwide to have the cards, after Lincolnshire.

Friday, February 17, 2012

TEENAGER Claire Machin knows everything there is to know about her mum’s rare condition.

The 16-year-old has been a carer for her mother Sarah Cross for as long as she can remember.

She does everything from helping her to wash and get dressed, to massaging her legs and making sure she takes her medication.

Sarah, 35, has Addison’s disease, a rare condition which means that her body does not produce adrenaline.

She has to take steroids to manage her condition and could fall into a fatal coma if her adrenaline levels drop.

But when Sarah is taken to hospital, often doctors don’t listen to Claire or give her information about her mother’s condition.

“I know what tablets she needs to take, when she needs to take them, I know a lot about her condition as I’ve been doing it since I was really young,” said Claire.

“But it feels like I am being ignored. It’s like talking to a brick wall.”

It is hoped that a new ID card scheme for young carers, launched yesterday by organisation Action for Young Carers (AYC), will change things.

The ID cards will identify people as young carers and let medical professionals know that the person they care for has given consent for them to discuss issues including their condition, medication and prognosis.

More than 100 young people in the city could be entitled to one of the cards.

Also, if the carer is involved in an accident, the cards would let the emergency services know that there is someone at home who is dependent on them.

“I think it is a brilliant idea,” said Sarah. “As the patient, I feel a lot more assured that somebody knows what’s going on.

“If you are ill, then you can’t really speak, but [Claire] can tell them what it is and what they need to do.

“But they are like, ‘she is a kid, what does she know’, and they just don’t communicate with her.”

Claire, who is studying for a society, health and development qualification at New College Nottingham’s Basford Hall campus, said: “I think it’s a good idea.

“If I’m saying something then I know it is going to get done. They have got to listen to me and not just ignore me.”

The ID card scheme has been established by AYC, which is part of the Carers Federation, and is funded by Nottingham City Council. It has cost around £2,500 to set up.

Nottingham is only the second place nationwide to have the cards, after Lincolnshire,

The AYC works with around 110 young carers in the city, aged from five to 18 but it is thought there may be many more who do not access its services.

Senior support worker Rosaleen Smith said: “The young carers have said that they can’t wait to get the cards.

“[They] will let people know that young carers are to be kept informed and that they want to be listened to.”

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