Sharing best practice across the UK for health-based youth work


Shaun Thomas, Renal Youth Worker


Cardiff and Vale University Health Board


This Bevan Exemplar project is developing an online hub so that health-based youth workers across the UK can share ideas and experiences to develop this emerging healthcare role.


Background


Health-based youth workers support the social and personal development of young people with a range of conditions across various healthcare settings and specialities. The variety of patient needs supported by a health-based youth worker make it a critical role for the effective, efficient and prudent care of young patients. Professor Nick Rich (Swansea University) confirmed 828 potential pathway combinations for this patient group, managed by health-based youth workers.


Over the last three years, the project lead has demonstrated the value of having a Youth Worker as part of the multidisciplinary team within Nephrology Services in South Wales, and shown how it can be a crucial role in supporting young kidney patients.


Having grown the service based entirely on the needs of the young people who use it, the initiative is now seeing empowered young people who are happier, have better control over their health conditions, are more equipped to cope with adversity and are more active. Many have been able to return to work or training, have started new careers and are experiencing improved health outcomes.


Aims


The project originally aimed to design and test a model of best practice for health-based youth workers across Wales.


After being encouraged and challenged by the Bevan Commission to think big and upscale the idea, the project lead sought the opportunity to present the project at a national health-based youth work conference. From this, the idea developed into an online Health-Based Youth Work Hub, with the conference shaping the initiative and guiding it in a different direction.


The aim now is to create a practical and usable online platform from which health-based youth workers can develop a community of support: share best practice, share how they evidence their work and develop research opportunities.


The online platform aims to enable health-based youth workers to work together more effectively and fast track the development of a new and emerging professional role within healthcare.


Challenges


Having received such positive and constructive feedback at the Health Based Youth Work conference, the project changed direction entirely and the project lead was tasked with developing an online hub.


This was almost an entirely different project, meaning several unanticipated challenges to overcome, such as:

  • Building a website

  • Securing funding

  • Ensuring the hub could function UK-wide

  • Establishing how the hub would be monitored

  • Planning hub content

The only way to overcome these challenges was to start, then learn, make mistakes, learn and keep developing the project. The project lead had great support from the Bevan Commission team, who were able to signpost to people who could help with funding, web design and various other elements.


Outcomes


This project has so far:

  • Strengthened partnerships with health-based youth workers across the UK

  • Worked with the health-based youth work community to design and co-create content for an online hub

  • Developed a template design for the online platform

  • Explored avenues for funding a web developer


By sharing best practice and being able to emulate excellent examples of care at a UK-wide level, it is anticipated that there will be a positive impact on services for young people.


By developing the Health-Based Youth Work Hub, it is hoped that these benefits can be extended to patients UK-wide, ensuring best-practice is shared and work is evidence-based.


This comprehensive resource (developed and coproduced by and with the community) will improve, develop and push forward the emerging professional practice of health-based youth workers.


Next steps


Secure final funding, so that a web developer can make the online hub a reality and launch the site for health-based youth workers UK-wide to use. Following this launch, it is hoped that health-based youth workers will be enthusiastic and will increase its usefulness by uploading and downloading tips and lessons learned.


I have not only developed my project over this past year, I have developed myself as a professional.Shaun Thomas, Renal Youth Worker



Part of cohort Bevan Exemplar Projects 2017-18


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