No matter how big or small the issue, Healthwatch is here to help people have their say about the changes they would like to see to health and social care services.
People in minority groups can face more barriers than others to accessing services and treatment and sharing their views, and Healthwatch have an important role to play in bringing their voices to light.
Take a look at the work of the shortlisted nominees at this year’s Healthwatch Network Awards to see how local Healthwatch reach out to people in their communities to make sure their voice is heard.
Healthwatch Sutton: What do young people think about mental health services?
Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people and are often a direct response to things happening in their lives. But are young people receiving the right support at the right time?
Healthwatch Sutton surveyed over 5000 children and young people in half of the secondary schools in their area to find out how young people scored on a ‘wellbeing’ scale, as well as the mental health challenges they’ve experienced and the support available to them.
Key findings include:
6% of young people had experienced self-harm and a further 25% had felt lonely.
LGB young people are four times more likely to have suicidal thoughts compared to those who identified as heterosexual.
53% of young people had experienced exam pressure.
This work was instrumental in the application process that secured an extra £1.8 million of funding for schools to support mental health in young people. Healthwatch Sutton is now working to ensure that this funding is used to focus on the issues highlighted in the report.
Healthwatch Southampton: It’s not all about surveys, creative methods work too
Social prescribing is when health professionals refer patients to support in the community, to help improve their health and wellbeing.
Working with local community groups and artists engaged in the Southampton Art in Health Forum, Healthwatch Southampton hosted the Umbrella Arts Festival to explore health and wellbeing through arts, music and conversation. Healthwatch Southampton wanted to connect health with creativity to get people’s feedback about the changes they would like to see to services, as well as ways the community could provide people with support for their wellbeing.
Changes people would like to see in Southampton:
- More information on what they can do to stay healthy and active via healthy eating and exercise
- Support to be able to stay at home as long as it is safe for them to do so, and for their families to feel supported to enable this
- Quick and easy access to their GP
Healthwatch Southampton are working with our local CCG and service providers to ensure that the needs of people are met, and finding ways to do so.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire: Are services addressing the needs of our armed forces?
1 in 11 of the people serving as Regulars in the British Armed Forces will need support with their physical or mental health. Are services taking the right steps to address this?
Healthwatch Northamptonshire surveyed veterans and their family members and found:
- A third of veterans said they found it difficult to access GP and mental health services
- A fifth of veterans thought they had a mental health need relating to their military service, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- A quarter of veterans said they had a physical need relating to military service, such as arthritis
Healthwatch Northamptonshire has recommended greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is in place to make sure that veterans do not feel at a disadvantage. Services should have specific and timely support to meet the mental health needs of veterans and help with the preparation for transition to civilian life.
Healthwatch Leeds: Bringing system leaders and the public together
How can services improve if they don’t work together? Health and care works best when it works as one system. People want to see a joined-up approach that will help reduce issues, save time and money and avoid duplication.
Healthwatch Leeds worked with health and care organisations to create the #BigLeedsChat a concept that allowed people of Leeds to talk to, the health and care system as one, from front line staff to those that design the services we use. With no labels, name tags, or uniforms, people were able to say what matters to them in health and care, the problems they personally face and how they think the system could be improved.
What came out of the conversations were wider health issues, such as eating healthier, pollution and better mental health services. The conversation is only the beginning, all the feedback from people has been themed, shared with system leaders and is already helping to shape services in Leeds.
Healthwatch Luton: Over 400 people share their experiences of health and social care
Children and young people up to 18 years old make up one fifth of the UK’s population and yet only a small percentage of the feedback we receive is about health and social care services. It’s important that they get the opportunity to speak out about the changes they’d like to see.
Young people in Luton wanted a place where they could have access to health and care information, so Healthwatch Luton worked with their local Clinical Commissioning Group to make this happen.
Over 400 people attended youth forums and a Young Persons Event to share their experiences of NHS and social care services and to find out more about the support available for them.
From the events, Healthwatch Luton made recommendations that included:
- More information and advice need to be made available on platforms relevant to young people in Luton, as well as make a space for them to talk
- More support to be made available to young people in Luton, particularly around linking education and health information
- Review the current dialogue with young people on their health and care needs, so they understand their rights regarding their care
- Organisations should work alongside young people to develop material and ways to better communicate.
These were sent to all local statutory organisations, as well as some voluntary organisations. Their local CCG also took the recommendations to NHS England.