Talking to professionals

As a young carer, you might meet some of these professionals:

  • Clinical nurse specialist or keyworker – a nurse who specialises in a particular illness.
  • Community nurse – cares for people at home.
  • Consultant – an expert doctor who is in charge of hospital treatment for the person you look after.
  • Oncologist – a doctor who is an expert in cancer.
  • Surgeon – a doctor who does operations.
  • Pharmacist – gives out prescribed medicines.
  • Radiographer – gives radiotherapy treatment and takes x-rays and scans.
  • Youth support coordinator – helps young people stay active during cancer treatment.
  • Youth worker – works with young carers to help them stay active and social and achieve their goals.
  • Young carer worker – supports young carers and their families.

You might have questions for the doctors and nurses about the health of the person you are looking after. You may find it helpful to write down your questions before talking to them. Or you can ask an adult to speak to them for you.

If you feel that you aren’t being included in discussions about the person you look after, don’t be afraid to tell someone about it.

The A-Z of who does what

When you are looking after someone with cancer, you will probably meet a lot of different professionals. This could be in the hospital, or at home.

We have put together a list of people you might talk to. This will help you to understand their jobs and ask them the right questions.

Benefits adviser

Benefits advisers are sometimes called welfare rights advisers. They can help people get money from the government if they need it. These payments are called benefits. They can also help you apply for grants from other organisations and charities.

Clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or keyworker

A clinical nurse specialist is a nurse who specialises in a particular illness. They may also be your keyworker. A keyworker is someone who will keep in touch with you and the person you care for, and provide any extra support or information you need.

Community nurse

A nurse who cares for people at home. They can give the person you look after any medication they need, and provide other nursing care. They are also called district nurses.

Counsellor

Someone you or the person you look after can talk to about feelings and worries.

Dietitian

Someone who can help with eating and nutrition.

Doctors

You may meet some of the following doctors:

  • Consultant – an expert doctor. They are in charge when the person you look after is given treatment in hospital. They have a team of doctors working with them.
  • GP – a local doctor. You may know this person already. They can help when the person you look after is out of hospital. You can also talk to them about any problems you have.
  • Haematologist – a doctor who specialises in blood problems.
  • Oncologist – a doctor who is an expert in cancer.
  • Pathologist – a doctor who studies cells and looks at biopsies.
  • Radiologist – a doctor who is trained to look at x-rays and scans.
  • Surgeon – a doctor who does operations.
  • Medical student – someone who is training to become a doctor. They may come round with the qualified doctors who are treating the person you look after, so that they can learn about what happens.
  • Palliative care doctor – a doctor who specialises in helping people cope with the symptoms of cancer.

Occupational therapist

Someone who can help the person you look after to do everyday tasks if they are unwell or unable to do things themselves.

Pharmacist

Someone who gives out medicines that have been prescribed, and gives advice about medicines.

Phlebotomist

Someone who takes blood samples.

Physiotherapist

Someone who can help the person you look after with walking or moving around, if they have problems with this.

Psychologist

Someone who can help you manage your feelings, if you are finding it hard to cope. They can also help the person you look after.

Radiographer

Someone who takes x-rays and scans. They also give radiotherapy treatment, which is planned by an oncologist.

Social worker

Someone who can help you and your family with money or work issues or other problems.

Ward nurse

A nurse who makes sure the person you look after is cared for in hospital. They will give them any regular treatments they need.

Youth support coordinator

Someone who can arrange activities and help young people stay active and social during and after treatment. They are funded by the Teenage Cancer Trust. You may meet them if you look after a brother, sister or young family member.

Youth worker

Someone who works with young people to help them stay active and social, and to reach any goals they would like to achieve. They can support young people living with cancer, or young people looking after someone with cancer.

Young carer worker

A young carer worker is specially trained to support young carers and their families.


Asking questions

If you want to know about the health of the person you are looking after, doctors and nurses are the best people to ask. They are treating the person who has cancer, so they have all their medical notes.

It can sometimes be difficult approaching a doctor or a nurse, because they might seem very important and busy. But if they have permission from the person you are looking after, doctors and nurses will be happy to talk to you and help if they can.

You might find it useful to write down any questions you want to ask so you have them ready for when you speak to the doctor or nurse.

If you feel shy or nervous, you can ask an adult to speak to the doctor or nurse for you. Sometimes you may meet support workers or healthcare assistants in the hospital. You can always ask them, too.

I used to take a pen and paper to the hospital. If the doctor was too busy to talk to me, I would write down my questions and ask an adult to pass them on.

Cerys, 13


Making sure you are included

You may know important things about the person you look after, which would be useful to share with the doctors and nurses. Sometimes the doctors and nurses might talk directly to the adults, and not to you, which might make you feel invisible. It can feel like your questions, thoughts and experiences don’t matter.

If you find this happening to you, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. Or talk to an adult who can support you and speak on your behalf. You might be able to explain to an older family member that you are feeling left out. That way, they can try to include you next time you are with a health professional.

Who else can give me information?

There are other people who can tell you more about different kinds of cancer and their treatments. For example, the Macmillan Support Line has qualified cancer nurses on the end of the phone. They can talk you through things like chemotherapy, and let you know what to expect. Call 0808 808 00 00 if you would like to speak to a nurse.

When I used to ask the nurses they said that I’m too young to understand. I don’t think anyone should be too young to understand.

Ryan, 13

Back to Young people looking after someone with cancer

Being a young carer

A young carer is someone under the age of 18 who looks after someone who is ill.

Young carer's assessment

Any young carer can have a young carer’s assessment to find out what help you and your family might need.