Integrated Care? How well services work together for people who access substance misuse and homeless services in Tower Hamlets

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Tower Hamlets investigated how well the health and social care system works for people who access substance misuse or homelessness services. Between October 2018 and January 2019, Healthwatch Tower Hamlets spoke to 80 service users across 8 services through one to one interviews, focus groups and Enter and View visits.

The report found that although individual services worked well, people reported that the system as a whole was not supportive. This included that service users felts services did not integrate well, especially for those with co-morbidities who found the system difficult to navigate. However, the service users who had a trusting relationship with someone within the system, found that they could rely on them to navigate between wide-ranging services and lead to more positive experiences. Additionally, lack of accurate information and advice about what services are available and how to access them leads to widespread confusion about how services work. It was also highlighted that those without housing found recovery difficult and encountered issues with finding long-term accommodation. 

Healthwatch Tower Hamlets made a number of recommendations including that enough flexibility be built into the system to allow service users to self-select their key worker or trusted person and provide the training for staff to fill that role; create and resource a working group of service users to co-design and improve services moving forward; improve signposting to ensure that people are supported to access services, not just pointed in the right direction; support substance misuse service users to access additional support in the evening and outside of regular service hours; and include support and signposting for homelessness and substance misuse services in the role of community navigators at Idea Stores. 

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General details

Report title 
Integrated Care? How well services work together for people who access substance misuse and homeless services in Tower Hamlets
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Tower Hamlets
Date of publication 
Friday, 1 February, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 October, 2018
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 January, 2019
Type of report 
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Health promotion
Holistic support
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Focus group
Structured interview
How was the information collected? 
Engagement Event
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 
Not Known

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Social care services 
Drug & alcohol services
Community services 
Community based services for people who misuse substances

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Homeless people
People who misuse drugs
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? 
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.