How well do health and care services work together?
Across England, reforms are taking place that aim to make health and care services better at working together to meet your individual needs. We spoke to one local Healthwatch to find out what people think of these changes.
Health and social care reforms
In most areas of England, changes are taking place to break down the barriers between family doctors and hospitals, between physical and mental health support, and between NHS and social care systems.
The aim is that if services work well together, people will find it easier to access support and control their own care.
But how will commissioners of services and health professionals know if these changes are working?
Local Healthwatch plays an important role by finding out how the changes are affecting people locally and making sure these views are heard by those who run services.
Listening to what people have to say
We spoke to two people from Healthwatch Wakefield to find out how this can work in practice.
Nichola Esmond, CEO:
“The connecting care initiative started in 2015 in response to the local challenges in health and care services.
“It aims to provide local people with support from health, social care and voluntary sector services that is more joined up. It also aspires to help more people to stay well, not be in hospital unless they really have to and to be more in control of their own health – either at home or as close to home as possible.
“Local people also said they wanted the professionals involved in their care to work in a way that’s connected so that they didn’t have to repeat their story or experience delays.
“To check on the progress of the changes, Healthwatch Wakefield staff and volunteers have been going out to visit people in their own homes, to find out what they liked and what could be improved.
“We have now spoken to over 600 people and found that the majority of them are reporting positive outcomes from the integrated care service, saying that they felt they had been helped to cope better, be more independent and to recover from illness more quickly.”
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Gaynor Endeacott, Project Officer, explains the impact of less positive feedback:
“Not everyone has had a positive experience and some individuals were still in need of additional support. So as well as being able to direct these people to suitable services, we have also been able to pass on the lessons of less positive experiences to those who commission and run Connecting Care.
“Thanks to people telling us what is working well and what needs to change, a number of improvements have already been made to connecting care.
“For example, there is now a target in the new developing integrated contract to have one named person who can liaise between the patient and the services they need to access. This is really important if you need help from lots of different services and have lots of appointments that need to be made and kept.
“Our work is not yet finished though. We will continue to speak to local people about what they think of Connecting Care and make sure these views are heard by health and social care professionals.”
How else is local Healthwatch making an impact?
For more stories of how local Healthwatch is working to make your voice count in health and care, take a look at our new publication that highlights the winners and highly commended local Healthwatch from this year’s Healthwatch Network Awards.
Find your local Healthwatch
If you’d like to share your experiences of health and care services, get in touch with your local Healthwatch.