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Hidden workforce of young carers needs support from DNs

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District and community nurses can be key carer champions, said Wendy Nicholson at the QNI conference.

On the 29th September, the professional officer for school and community nursing appealed to the room of community nurses to join the 200 carer champions, already trained by young carers, to ensure that this 'invisible workforce' receives the support that they require.

She said that there was roughly 164,000 young carers in the UK but according to the BBC census this number could well be doubled or even tripled.
It is important for school nurses and practice nurses to 'make every contact count' as they may be the first healthcare professionals to come into contact with young carers, she said.

Ms Nicholson also touched on the condition of older carers, who may not see themselves as carers and categorise themselves as acting 'just like a husband, wife, parent or child.' Many of them want to continue working and caring for their relative but feel they do not have the support or resources to ensure they can do both.

At a conference in Slovenia, Ms Nicholson spoke about young carers. She said that many of the delegates did not know what they were. She said that the UK appeared to one of the few countries that collected data on carers yet there was still a long way to go to providing them with enough support.

The QNI will carry out more work in the future: events to train more practice nurses, school nurses and district nurses to support young and adult carers in the community. This will include making sure that their physical health is maintained to ensure that they can care to the best of their ability.

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