Summary of report content
Healthwatch Kent and Healthwatch Medway, together with Kent User Forums, have gathered feedback from 180 members of the public about their experiences of the Covid 19 pandemic and life under social distancing during April 2020. They combined this with anecdotal feedback from 10 organisations who variously support people living with mental health, physical disability, sight loss and impairment, carers and those suffering domestic abuse.
The report explores trends in feedback during this period. The issue on which they received the most feedback is people feeling a growing sense of isolation. Feedback about access to food has decreased over the period. Feedback on social distancing and restriction on movement has had a significant impact on key groups of people; those with Autism Spectrum Conditions, Learning Disability and Dementia. Concerns around financial difficulties peaked in the third week of the month. They also started to hear about how different rules in the Districts around funerals were making this extra stressful for people.
The report also explores feedback about health care. The biggest issue they heard about were concerns about access to secondary mental health services, including positive feedback about services being delivered by phone. In the middle of April, they started to hear from staff working in a range of settings from hospitals to community services. Staff raised concerns about their wellbeing and personal safety at work. They have had a consistently high volume of feedback around medication, including being able to collect medication and access pharmacies. In the second week of April, they started to hear issues around people’s concerns about accessing care and support and avoiding hospital appointments, due to fears of contracting Covid 19 or ‘not wanting to bother’ the services. People have reported a negative impact on their health due to being unable to access regular treatment.
The report concludes with an exploration of feedback on social care. In the first week of April, they heard a lot about the impact of reduction and changes to peoples’ planned care packages. People who are caring for others have found that their situation at home is different during lockdown. In mid-April, they contacted a random selection of care homes in Medway to find out about access to PPE, food, staffing and coronavirus cases. Those care homes reported excellent liaison with Medway Council and in general good access to PPE.
The report sets out the actions that Healthwatch Kent and Healthwatch Medway intend to or are taking to address the issues that they identified in the research.