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Helping people find the health and care support they need
Last year, local Healthwatch helped around 176,000 people navigate health and social care services. Find out about the award-winning approach of one local Healthwatch to helping their community get the right support.
Helping communities navigate local health and social care services is one of local Healthwatch's main jobs.
David Sollis, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex, tells us more about how the work they do makes an impact on their local community.
Healthwatch Essex has a team of four specialist Information Officers dedicated to providing information and advice to local people. David said, “In the two years since we launched our information service we have helped over 4,000 patients, carers and professionals better understand the local health and care system.”
The majority of people who contact Healthwatch are looking for information about local health and care services, but about 1 in 6 are people are looking for help making a complaint.
Common topics people want details about include support for elderly relatives, concerns about vulnerable adults, and difficulties accessing mental health services in the community. Healthwatch Essex has also helped hundreds of people in Clacton and Chelmsford who were struggling to access GP services.
“We know it’s not always clear where to go for information about health and social care services, so we run a confidential telephone information line providing support on a wide range of topics,” David said.
One woman contacted Healthwatch Essex with concerns about her elderly father who was struggling with day-to-day tasks like getting dressed and moving around at home without falling.
Healthwatch Essex gave her practical information about how to get additional support and what to expect. They also told her about help local voluntary organisations could give her father to stay independent and keep living at home.
David said: “We signposted the caller to the Falls Prevention Team and made her aware that her mother was in fact classed as a carer for her father – something she had not realised. We pointed out that there is support available to help her mother to continue to provide care.”
Each enquiry is recorded to help Healthwatch Essex spot trends that can be shared with local health and care leaders. These records have resulted in urgent reviews to address issues with accessibility and quality of care, and helped make local services better for the community.
As well as helping people get the support they need, Healthwatch Essex has developed the Living Well Essex website, in partnership with their local council. Up to 15,000 people visit the site each month to find up-to-date information about a range of popular topics, and access their directory of social care services.
Healthwatch works hard to try and reach as many Essex residents as possible to let them know where they can go if they have any questions or concerns about health and care services. They go out regularly into the community to visit job centres, health events, drop-in cafes patient events and more.
Over the last year, demand for the service has increased, with the number of calls more than doubling compared to the previous 12 months.
Healthwatch Essex's hard work was recognised at the Healthwatch Network Awards 2017 where the team won the award for Advice and Information.
Do you need advice or information about health and care services in your area?
If you would like to find out more about the services available in your local area, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.