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Speaking up helps improve care for sheltered housing residents


A 96-year-old sheltered housing resident and manager have helped improve ambulance services in Dorset.

Fiona Smith and Mrs West

Rosetta West, who lives at Melton Court sheltered housing in Poole, waited for over four hours for an ambulance after a fall. Rosetta remained on the floor, anxious and in pain, as safety protocols would not allow staff to lift her.

Fiona Smith, Melton Court Manager, contacted Healthwatch Dorset to share her concern that residents were facing ever longer delays when they needed an ambulance.

Healthwatch Dorset shared Rosetta’s experience with Dorset MP Richard Drax ahead of a debate he was leading in parliament about ambulance waiting times, bringing real life experience into the discussion.

To help raise awareness further, Healthwatch Dorset supported Fiona and Rosetta to take part in interviews by newspapers, TV and radio journalists.

The process has helped to turn a terrible experience for Rosetta into a positive call for change. 

As a direct result of these two women’s efforts, the ambulance trust has designed a new training and development programme for sheltered staff across the county in how to lift people after an incident.

This has helped reduce pressures on ambulance call-outs and ensure residents can be looked after in relative comfort should they fall. 


The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand when improvements are needed. But, to make the biggest difference, we need to hear from more people.

You can make a difference. Find out more about our #ItStartsWithYou campaign or share your experience with your local Healthwatch and help make services better for your community. It starts with you.

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