SOUTHAMPTON Children’s Hospital has appointed its first youth worker for patients with chronic kidney disease.

Andy Beeson will work alongside Dr Arvind Nagra, consultant paediatric nephrologist, to develop new and innovative ways of supporting young patients aged 11 to 18 with long-term health conditions as they transition from children’s to adult services.

This initiative has been made possible through funding from Kidney Care UK and the Wessex Kidney Patients’ Association, who have been wor

Andy, who has 12 years’ experience as a youth worker, will help to develop new and innovative ways of working to support young people with kidney disease as they transition from children’s to adult services.

These new ways of working will be shared locally, nationally and internationally, to benefit all young adult patients across specialties.

Andy said: “Studies show many young adults with kidney disease feel isolated and can suffer with depression and anger; some have difficulty maintaining diet and fluid restrictions, and face difficulties trying to co-ordinate taking various medications at different times.

"I’m here to help find ways to motivate, empower and support these young adults as they move into adult services and ultimately support them to help them live their lives to the full.”

“As well as the medical impact this – or any other long-term health condition – can have on our young patients, there is a wider social impact that also needs to be addressed,” said Dr Nagra.

“Care doesn’t just stop at providing the correct medical treatment. We know through a number of recent research studies the importance of employing a youth worker specifically to support this group of people with the challenges they face.

“Difficulties can include falling behind with education, struggling to find and retain employment and problems with developing and maintaining relationships with potential partners and friends. Studies also show that these patients often have a feeling of isolation, poor self-image, depression and anger."

Richard Lee, of the Wessex Kidney Patients Association, said: "The Wessex Kidney Patients Association feels privileged to be able to part fund the 'Youth Worker Project', along with Kidney Care UK.

"It is only through raising awareness at a local level and people's generosity that we have been able to do this.

"To us this is a vital project and we look forward to seeing the project flourish and the positive impact it will have on young kidney patients."