New 'health passports' for looked after children

Tom and Gemma health passportNorfolk’s looked after children and care leavers have a new look health passport - an easy-to-reference record of their medical and healthcare history, designed to help them keep track and take control of their health into adulthood.

Health passports are a national initiative, with pages to record regular health checks that all looked after children have. There are also details of their health recorded by their doctors or nurses plus healthy living advice.

Our picture shows Tom and Gemma from the InCare Council who helped design the new health passports and launched them at an event in Norwich on 5th July 2016.

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Children in care and care leavers in Norfolk helped to design the new-look document, which looks similar to a travel passport. The young people worked with a professional graphic designer advising how young people would like them to look and what sort of information they should contain. There will be four designs for the children and young people to choose during their health assessment meeting.

Shyla, aged nine, was one of the young people involved with designing the health passports. She said: “It’s not something you use every day but it will be so important when we are asked about our health history and it contains useful health advice.”

Tom, 17, also contributed to the design and said: “It’s really important we understand our health and history. So many things in the future depend on us knowing what health is and what we need to do to stay as healthy as we can.”

The new document will stay with the county’s young people in care throughout their childhood, teenage years and beyond. The passports are an important reference for both looked after children and their clinicians and carers now, and a record they can take into their adult lives.

The project was led by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk and Norfolk County Council. Laura McCartney-Gray from NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It was a privilege to work with Norfolk County Council’s In Care Council to make sure we designed a health passport that was relevant to young people and children whilst they are in care.

“Everything from the cover design to the passport contents was designed or approved by them”

Roger Smith, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “Looked after children often have a more tumultuous childhood than most children and young people, so it’s vital the county council as corporate parents provide as much consistency and stability as possible.

“A health passport will help children in care and their carers keep track of their medical history and health needs, giving them easy access to information that could make a big difference to their health and wellbeing. I’m so pleased that children in care and care leavers have been involved in designing the health passport too; this is their document and it needs to be as useful and relevant to them as it can be.”

The In-Care Council, a group of representative young people in care, were involved in producing the health passports. They said they wanted them to look like a real passport and contain text that is clear to read, be colourful and bright, contain helpful numbers and advice, and give details of when to call 999.

They also requested space be provided so they could add a photo if they wanted, and they suggested the edges of the pages should be colour-coded by section so they could find their way around with ease.

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