How volunteering with Healthwatch helps lawyer understand issues clients face

As part of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), a legal executive explains how volunteering with Healthwatch helps her in her job.
A lady with glasses sitting down at her desk and smiling

Helping make change happen – that’s one of the things 50-year-old Veronica Male says she likes best about volunteering.

Veronica is a Chartered Legal Executive at a Northamptonshire solicitors, and she’s also a volunteer with Healthwatch Northamptonshire. Her employer, Ryan & Frost Solicitors in Wellingborough, regularly let Veronica go to local health and care meetings during work hours, on behalf of Healthwatch.

“My firm is very supportive of my volunteering with Healthwatch. It is important for us to understand the issues facing our clients in the county, as this not only helps us provide a better service but enables us to raise concerns,” she says.

“Being part of the Healthwatch Planning Group, which covers adult health and social care issues as part of its work, enables me to be aware of issues around the county, how Healthwatch is engaging with agencies to look at improving services and understanding the difficulties facing those agencies, particularly at such a difficult time within the county.”

Veronica, who lives in Moulton with her husband and teenage daughter, has been a volunteer for Healthwatch for almost two years. She first heard about the organisation through the Pensioner’s Forum she attends at Northampton Borough Council.

“I am also a member of the Northamptonshire Dementia Action Forum and so I am very concerned about the impact that the issues within the county will have on the provision of adult health and social care.

“Unfortunately I cannot offer as much time as other volunteers to represent Healthwatch at meetings, but I am able to sit in on the planning meetings and raise issues which have come to me either through the Northamptonshire Dementia Action Forum, experiences that have come to me through the clients we support, or raised at the other meetings I attend.”

Working full time and volunteering does have its challenges, says Veronica: “The challenge can be ensuring that I am able to effectively pass information between the various bodies I am involved with, so that they know what is happening in the county and how to work together and share information to provide a fuller picture.”

So what are the best things about volunteering?

“I really love hearing people’s experiences, the issues that they have raised as part of their role as a volunteer and how that information has been passed back to the organisation and informed a review of their procedure, sometimes leading to a change which benefits everyone.

“For example, I was really pleased when an issue I had raised from a client’s experience about not being appropriately supported by social care after discharge from hospital started a discussion around the table with people who knew of others with the same experience.  This concern was then adopted as one of Healthwatch’s work priorities for the next year.”

Get involved this Volunteers' Week

Take a look at how you can highlight the importance of volunteering this Volunteers' Week (1-7 June). Share your story, or someone else's, and get involved with the conversation on social media #VolunteersWeek19.

If you would like to help make a difference to people's experiences of health and social care, get in touch with your local Healthwatch today. 

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