Summary of report content
Healthwatch Ealing wanted to hear from local people about whether their access to health and social care services had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and how they were accessing information in a rapidly changing situation. They undertook a survey to which 467 individuals who responded during the period from 25th May - 30th June 2020.
Nearly half of respondents considered themselves be at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Reasons for this mainly included long term health conditions such as, being over the age of 70 and a combination of the two. Members of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities (BAME) communities were more likely to receive shielding guidance and identify as an informal, unpaid carer.
Although over half of individuals rated communications regarding changes to health care as good or excellent, there is still room for improvement. Changes to social care are inconsistent in meeting the needs of some people. Although uptake seems high, Individuals’ experience with digital services has been mixed.
Individuals are more likely to ask friends and family for help rather than seeking the help of professional organisations or leading authorities, such as the Ealing council. In some cases, the distribution of food boxes and support in food shopping remain issues that must be addressed to ensure that each individual’s needs are sufficiently met.
People find it relatively easy to access information and stay up to date with how to keep themselves and others safe during the pandemic. However, several specific topics were highlighted as difficult to find clear information or advice on including Covid-19 testing, changes to regular health and social care support and how to self-manage existing health conditions. A smaller percentage of people have found it easy to actually act on information. The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on individuals’ mental health and wellbeing has been widespread. The inability to successfully access testing has been a source of stress for many. Individuals are more likely to turn to friends and family rather than professional services for mental health support as some feel forgotten by services.
The report contains eight recommendations aimed at tackling the issues raised by the research.