Children & Young People’s Healthcare Rights 2006-08
Accessing and using healthcare services can be complicated for adults. For children and young people it can be even more daunting. Very often they are unaware of their rights and responsibilities in healthcare settings or what is available to them.
With this in mind, our (2006-2008) Big Lottery funded Children and Young People’s Healthcare Rights project was designed to highlight and represent the needs of children and young people at times of illness and to develop a resource to help them, their families or carers to get the best from our healthcare service.
The Project was based in the North, Central and West of Scotland with objectives to:
- Inform child health service providers about the 'child-friendliness' of their services and others across Scotland and assist them to improve their service
- Ensure service users and providers received information to help them put children's needs at the forefront of their planning
- Empower service users to bring change to the health care system
- Inform children, young people and carers of their existing rights in health services with reference to the European Association of Children in Hospital (EACH) Charter, piloting workshops and creating a community toolkit.
- Give young people opportunities to consider how to make best use of services available to them when they are ill
Our Project worked with 8,881 children, young people, families, carers, healthcare and other professionals and voluntary/community groups. Our three Project Officers developed and delivered a series of workshop sessions based around accessing and using healthcare services; participated in information giving events and partner agency planning meetings and worked with families as required.
Children and Young People’s heathcare rights are explained in The European Association for Children in Hospital (EACH) Charter to which the UK is a signatory. The EACH Charter which underpins The United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child, was the basis for the development of the Project’s awareness raising workshops.
The workshops were developed through feedback from the children and young people who participated. This helped to shape the final toolkit - the Children and Young People’s Healthcare Rights Resource Pack, around the principles of the rights of the child.
The Resource Pack introduces children and young people to their rights and responsibilities when using healthcare services. It provides a structured approach to discussion with children and young people and consists of a variety of workshops in age appropriate sections. These can be used in a one off training session or as a series of lessons. The trainer is provided with all the information to carry out the sessions and guidance on where to get further information if required.
Two DVDs are included. One is a short film made by a group of children from Lanarkshire and is an example of one method of encouraging children to learn about their rights. The second uses animation as a learning tool and was written and produced by children from Aberdeen and Central Scotland. The Pack contains information about how to make and use animation as part of learning.
The development of this Resource was the result of listening to children and young people, running workshops to highlight their healthcare rights and supporting professionals to provide improved child health services. The Pack was launched at the Voluntary Sector Gathering in Glasgow in June 2008. A week later it was also highlighted in a workshop presentation at NHS Scotland’s annual event, Better Health, Better Care, run in partnership with NES Scotland/SCCYP and their Young People’s Health Advisory Group.
During the project many children, young people and families were assisted to make better use of healthcare services, to better understand the healthcare system and to exercise their rights to information and involvement in healthcare decisions. Our Project also provided information to healthcare staff and partner agencies on the rights of children and young people, and of the need for ‘child friendly’ services.
Using the EACH Charter as a benchmark, our Project Officer (West of Scotland) carried out a review in one NHS Board area of all services and hospital departments where children were seen and treated. The emphasis was to look at the ‘child friendliness’ of departments; the availability of appropriate child friendly information; provision of age appropriate services and facilities for adolescents; the process for involving patients in healthcare decisions and evidence of EACH Charter information in the hospital. As a result this Board has now implemented changes and improvements to those departments frequently used by children and young people and staff are now more aware of the EACH Charter and rights of young patients and their families.
Project Officers also worked with Community Health Partnerships and Patient Public Fora in Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk. In the Aberdeen, the Project Officer was instrumental in helping to set up an adolescent group. Throughout the project there were many queries from professionals about the involvement of children and young people in service planning.
Project Officers were also contacted by families with a range of queries about help their sick child. Many parents wanted help to prepare their children for a hospital visit and we were also able to signpost them to other sources of information or help.