Health and social care needs of the Armed Forces community in Northamptonshire

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Summary of report content

The Armed Forces Covenant1 is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the British Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. In Northamptonshire the covenant is administered by nineteen partners from across the county, who work closely together to ensure the covenant aims are upheld. Currently, there is a lack of information about the Armed Forces community in Northamptonshire, including their health and social care needs. Therefore, Healthwatch Northamptonshire carried out a survey on behalf of the Armed Forces Covenant Northamptonshire to find out more about these needs so they can be addressed by commissioners and service providers, and help highlight potential projects going forward. We also asked people for demographic data that will enable the University of Northampton to further explore any links between this and health and care needs. Healthwatch Northamptonshire sought the views and experiences of people living in Northamptonshire who were currently serving or a reservist in the British Armed Forces, or were a veteran of the British Armed Forces. Healthwatch Northamptonshire also asked people who are married to someone, in a relationship with someone, or related to someone serving or a veteran, or who had been bereaved by the death of someone who served. Their survey was shared widely and, after removing responses that did not fall into these categories, 454 people answered two or more survey questions. Ten people gave them further information at a focus group. Over half of the people who took part in the survey were veterans and 11% were currently serving or a reservist. Most of these had served, or were serving in, the Army. Over half of the veterans had left the Armed Forces over 21 years ago and 22% had left with the last ten years. Most people had not used the health and care services we asked them about, but nearly one-third (29%) told us they had struggled to access one or more service. GP and Mental Health services were those that people had the most difficulty accessing. Additional comments highlighted that a lack of understanding by healthcare professionals about the Armed Forces Covenant or the link between were barriers to veterans accessing health and care services. One-fifth of veterans thought they had a mental health need relating to their military service, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was mentioned the most, followed by depression and anxiety. These issues also affected the families of veterans. Only 21% of veterans had been spoken to directly by a healthcare professional about their mental health since leaving the Armed Forces. One-quarter of veterans told us they had a physical health need relating to their military service, arthritis, joint and back pain, and hearing problems were the most mentioned. Only one-third of veterans said a healthcare professional had spoken to them directly about their physical health since leaving the Armed Forces. Nearly half of veterans found it relatively difficult to adapt to civilian life, with work, social life and finances being the most difficult things to adapt to. People told Healthwatch Northamptonshire civilian life was very different because services were not ‘on tap’ and the work ethic of people varied from what they were used to. Further comments also highlighted issues with a lack of preparation for transition to life outside of the Armed Forces.

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General details

Report title 
Health and social care needs of the Armed Forces community in Northamptonshire
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Northamptonshire
Date of publication 
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 1 June, 2018
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Health promotion
Health protection
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of care
Quality of regulation
Quality of staffing
Quality of treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Other local body
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
The Armed Forces Covenant
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Acute services without overnight beds / listed acute services with or without overnight beds
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Social care services 
Adult social care

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.