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The answer’s on a postcard

A joint initiative between CLDF and Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital is bringing about real benefits for young people who are transitioning from paediatric to adult liver services.


“We know that transition can be a tricky time for young people and their parents,” says CLDF’s Young People’s officer, Louise (pictured above) “There’s a different clinic to go to, new people to meet and all at a time when young people are having to start taking responsibility for their own medication.

“So although we tell all of our families that we’re here for our young people until the age of 24, it’s easy to forget that when there’s so much else to think about.”

Louise got together with Philippa, who is Young Adults Liver Support Worker at the QE (pictured below) and they came up with the simple but highly effective idea of postcards.

When a young person is referred to the QE liver unit, either having come through paediatric services at Birmingham Children’s Hospital or having been diagnosed when aged 16 or over, Philippa tells them about the support CLDF can offer and gives them a postcard on which they fill in just a couple of details.  Philippa sends the postcards over to CLDF and Louise can then make contact with the young person concerned.

“The system works really well because, although Louise and I are both youth workers, we’re supporting the young people from slightly different perspectives,” explains Philippa. “By ensuring that patients know that we are both available, it gives them the reassurance that there is always someone there for them, whether their concern is a medical issue or a wider emotional one.“

In addition to referring patients for support, Philippa now meets with Louise on a monthly basis to explore ways in which they can better support all the young people they work with.

“It’s a great means of sharing knowledge and expertise,” says Louise. “I help young people throughout the UK on a range of emotional, social and practical issues, whereas Philippa is focussed young adults who attend the QE, helping them to understand their health care and bridging any of their issues or concerns, so our strengths really complement each other.”

The benefits to young people of the two organisations working together are clear

“The communication between Louise from CLDF and Phillipa at QE is a powerful force!” says Catherine.  “They both have different expertise, working environments and their perspectives are unique. It’s a best of both worlds situation. Louise provides wonderful wellbeing care, daily resolutions and practical support. Phillipa is fantastic to continue wellbeing care, and communicate through Louise on medical needs such as coordinating medication requests and issues requiring medical attention. With this dynamic duo little is unnoticed! It’s always possible to ask follow up questions and ensure continuity of care. This is particularly essential surrounding an emotional, lifelong and fluctuating condition.”

“And that of course is the most important thing, that our young people feel well supported, says Louise. “Following the success of this scheme in Birmingham, we’re planning to speak to the other regional centres about how it might work for them, so we can significantly reduce the anxiety which transition holds for many young people and their parents.”

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