Looked After Young People

Supporting looked after young people to more positive health

Over the past five years a project led by NHS Fife has worked to improve the health and wellbeing of ‘looked after’ young people – those under a supervision order with the local authority, including young people placed in residential care, foster care and those remaining in their own homes.

Looked after young people have poorer health outcomes than other young people, particularly around sexual health.

The project identified that it could contribute towards this outcome from the health inequalities strategy:

2. People experiencing difficult life circumstances have more skills, strengths, opportunities and support to improve their health and wellbeing.

It then developed shorter-term outcomes, relevant to its target groups, and put in place measures to assess impact.

The project worked with looked after young people to identify what was needed and what sort of support would be most helpful. It offered one-to-one sessions with a health psychologist and group work on sexual health and relationships. It used non-standard, flexible ways of engaging with young people – e.g. communicating via text, arranging sessions in places convenient to them. It offered training and support to carers and staff.

A comparison of data gathered at the start and end of the project showed significant changes in young people’s behaviour in areas such as smoking, physical activity and sexual health. It also showed improvements in their wellbeing. A paper on the project was published in 2016: view it here.

The project:

√  Arose from evidence of health inequalities

√  Targeted a key group

√  Identified an outcome from the health inequalities strategy and put in place measures to assess impact

√  Developed different ways of working, for example, by:

  • involving young people in decisions about the design of support
  • offering support that flexible and responsive, and in locations convenient to the young people and their carers
  • building the skills and resources of young people to enable them to improve their own health and wellbeing