Introduction In order to deliver high quality care, paediatric and adolescent health services must address the needs of the patients they represent. Platforms for youth engagement, such as youth forums, enable us to better understand these expectations and give young people a voice. Youth forums exist to highlight the issues concerning young people and bring new perspectives to the way we commission and deliver services.
1.) Hold a youth engagement event to recruit young people to a new forum project
2.) Provide information about local services
3.) Launch a Children and Young Person’s Forum (CYPF) comprised of 11–18 year olds to discuss and improve trust services.
Methods 60 young people attended an information and recruitment evening. The event’s aims were twofold: 1) to encourage youth engagement with health care, 2) to recruit for the new CYPF. The evening consisted of 16 workshops/stalls on various topics including mental health, long term conditions and ‘meet the commissioners’. Feedback was collected throughout the event and culminated in a large group discussion.
Results Throughout the evening the participants interacted with health professionals and service representatives and offered feedback on the stalls they visited. During a facilitated group discussion towards the end of the evening we began to understand what it’s like to be a young person in the local area. Key themes of the feedback we received throughout the evening included frustration with long waiting times, experiences of rude or disinterested staff members and a desire to be better informed about local services. Of the 60 young people who attended the event over 2/3s agreed to joining the CYPF. Selection of the forum members will begin in the new year.
Conclusion From early adolescence onwards, young people begin to take responsibility for their own health and access services independently. Our project was designed to learn more about what they need and want, and has already highlighted some flaws in paediatric and adolescent service design. To improve service quality and efficacy we must endeavour to inquire, involve and inspire young people.
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