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Manchester Foundation
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Youth Service

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Youth Service ensures young patients voices are heard

The Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Youth Service at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital was launched in March 2022. It supports young people with long-term health conditions transition into adult services.

Our pioneering Youth Service is one of just three of its kind in the UK within an NHS children’s hospital and has been funded by the Charity for the first 24 months.

Launched in March 2022, the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust Youth Service at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital supports young people with long-term health conditions who are transitioning into adult services.

One such patient is Toriay Omiyale, aged 18, who has sickle cell anaemia which often leaves her feeling tired. Migraines affect her everyday life and her condition means she has regular hospital appointments for treatment and blood transfusions. Sometimes she will miss school or socialising with friends due to her illness.

Having been treated at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital since she was born, Toriay was understandably apprehensive about transitioning to adult services. She was nervous about moving to a new hospital and meeting new people but was grateful to have her Youth Service Worker Teresa (Tee) with her to support with the transition.

At her first appointment Tee met with Toriay and took her on a tour of the adult sickle cell service. She was introduced to her new doctors and nurses who would be involved in her ongoing care and Tee made sure Toriay felt comfortable throughout.

Now Toriay is feeling more confident and is able to attend appointments on her own. She said: “It’s important for young adults and teens to have that support network and feel like they can talk to somebody, ask them questions about their health and support them through the hospital.”

Young people accessing the service can range in age from 11 to 25 years old. Each has their own individualised care plan and time with the Youth Service team, depending on their needs.

Youth Workers act as a voice for the young person and support them through their transitioning period and act as their advocate. And the support they receive is not solely intended for their hospital care – it can be extended to home life too.

Nic Rigby is a Senior Youth Worker in the team. She has worked at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for seven years, previously working with patients with cancer.

Nic said: “Young people deserve to be listened to and have their voice heard and as Youth Workers we can act as an advocate. In turn, this ensures that young person is heard by medical professionals during consultations or appointments.

“It can be quite daunting sitting in front of a consultant and them asking questions but having the opportunity to talk to the Youth Worker about what’s going on and the things they may be worried about can really help. The Youth Worker can act as the voice for that young person and that makes a real difference.

“We make a real difference to the young people treated at our children’s hospital by gaining their trust and supporting them with everything going on in their life – both in and outside of hospital. Some young people may have a lot going on and find it hard to focus on their treatment and their long-term health condition. At the Youth Service, we can break that all down, offering support and an action plan to help them manage their treatment in a way that feels comfortable to them as an individual.

“I think all young people with a long-term health condition deserve the support of a Youth Worker and I think that would make a massive difference.”

In addition to the transition service, all young people at the hospital can access the team’s youth club which opened in November 2022. The Youth Service also organises away days for activities including escape rooms, trips to popular restaurants and adventure activities, offering an opportunity for these young people to meet like-minded individuals going through a similar experience.

While the Youth Service is accessible to young people who are transitioning to an adult hospital outside our Trust, there is a benefit of being part of a family of 10 NHS hospitals and community services here in Manchester, with many of our hospitals under the same roof. Youth Workers work across our hospitals to support young people. Many of the hospitals under our Trust already work together and have built strong connections in the services we provide as well as cross-working.

The Youth Service hopes to grow its team across more specialist areas at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in the future, enabling them to support more young people as they transition.

“Young people deserve to be listened to and have their voice heard and as Youth Workers we can act as an advocate.”

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