People as partners for better care
The past year has shown what is possible when services engage people as equal partners in improving care. This needs to happen more if health reforms are to be successful.
Our annual report to Parliament sends a clear message - that understanding and responding to people’s experiences of care is essential to developing better services.
The public are ready to help
In the past year, the Healthwatch network has engaged over 300,000 people. This is not only a testament to the hard work of local volunteers and staff but also to the public’s desire to help improve NHS and social care services.
With growing demand for care, the public clearly recognises the strain on services such as GPs. In fact, eight in ten people say they are interested in sharing their ideas for how their local practice can be changed to better suit their needs.
People need to be given a chance to share their experiences in ways that have an impact. According to a survey we commissioned, less than a third of people say they have been given the opportunity to share their views of healthcare services.
Showing what is possible
Our third annual report shows what is possible when people are engaged as partners in making sure that services suit their needs. It also highlights how the experience of a few individuals can shine a light on something which could affect so many more.
Jane was shocked to discover that her son, who has schizophrenia, was living in squalid conditions, despite having an agency employed to support him to live independently and maintain his home.
It transpired that no action could be taken because neither his residence nor the agency providing his support were subject to regulatory inspection or supervision from the Care Quality Commission.
This was just one of many stories, shared with local Healthwatch and passed onto us, where vulnerable people are receiving poor care. Thanks to people like Jane, although unregulated care remains an issue, the Department of Health has committed to addressing it. The Care Quality Commission is also reviewing how it inspects and regulates the care that people who live in these settings receive.
Time to do more
People understand the challenges that the NHS and social care services face and stand ready to do their bit. They want to contribute by managing their own wellbeing more and helping to build better services for their community.
However, commissioners and providers of services need to do more to capitalise on the public’s desire. Individuals need to be treated as equal partners in determining their own care, as well as the decisions that will be taken about future services. People also have to be given the opportunity to share their views.
In the year to come we will do all we can to encourage a stronger partnership between people and services, to help make sure that tomorrow’s health and care services meet the needs of those who use them.