Blog: Katie Morton on the importance of youth work in hospitals

18 Dec 2014

Through a young person’s life they will go through a lot of different stages, some of the most important stages are within childhood and adolescence.

Whilst in this stage of their life they will make the search for identity, and create dependencies on their peers. Peer support is something that is crucial to a young person’s time growing up, whether that is in school, at home, in hospital or in the transition to adulthood.

For those with chronic health issues this can be a very difficult and confusing time. Youth work in hospitals supports young people with these challenges and creates a different and more positive atmosphere for the young people accessing hospital services.

A young person with a chronic health condition, can and will spend a considerable amount of their time in the hospital. They can miss out on the most crucial years of their adolescent lives in relation to personal, social and educational opportunities. Young people may also experience a loss of independence from their family and friends wanting to do everything for them all of the time, creating a loss of privacy for the young person, the young person may also lose their privacy when in hospitals for example; medical professionals may enter their bed space without knocking and making sure it is ‘ok’ first.

Hospital youth work offers networks of peer support; a place to meet new people, a place young people can be themselves rather than a person with a disability and an opportunity for young people to find their identity without the stigma of having a chronic illness.

Hospital youth workers can also offer peer support during and after their hospital stays, and long term activity and support programmes; accreditation programmes and transitional support for making that move from children’s services to adult services.

This is an important topic as it is something that is underdeveloped and poorly funded, yet it holds significant importance to the young people that access it everyday. Hospital youth work is something that should be more widespread and readily available to those want and need support whilst accessing services.