Summary of report content
During May and early June (2020), Healthwatch in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay carried out engagement with local people across Devon about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local community via an online survey and virtual Zoom meetings used to promote further discussion.
People found that the community-based sector of care was the bedrock of support for many. The virtual Zoom meetings were valued as a way to join up conversations about knowledge of local people’s needs.
Young carers were especially challenged. School closures and the uncertainty of future employment and education added to their anxiety and stress. Normal social contact with friends became difficult. Engagement with this group was less than we would have hoped and was of concern to our engagement participants.
The “Digital divide” and the innovation needed to maintain personalised health and social care communication rose in importance throughout the engagement. We identified that excess national messaging from the media caused “switch off”, so WhatsApp and Zoom rose in use as the choice of communication for those with the skill. Local traditional signposting did not have the same impact to reach those in need.
The mental health and wellbeing of everyone and in every aspect of future life became of great concern both nationally and locally. Access to green (and blue) spaces; normal friend and family networking; fear of the impact of cancelled health appointments and their unknown reinstatement; loss of contact with community based mental teams; the difficulty in maintaining family contact for those in hospital; school closure at a critical time for child development; family stress. All amplifying the existing need of local people before the pandemic, which was already of grave concern.