Meet the Healthwatch Somerset Board
Judith, a former school inspector from North Petherton, has a passion for shaping local health services. Mother of two Judith spent 15 years working in the nuclear industry, and 18 years as an Ofsted inspector. Since retiring six years ago, she has become increasingly involved as a volunteer in the governance of local NHS services, and is a public governor representing West Somerset. “I have volunteered with Healthwatch Somerset for the last three years because it’s a body that listens to people and their concerns about the NHS, and it is in a position to be able to lobby those who are able to make changes. I’m very aware of the problems facing the health service at the moment and supportive of the services, but equally I think the public’s voice should be taken into account when making decisions at a higher level. I hope my awareness, knowledge and understanding of primary and secondary health services will give a holistic view of healthcare in Somerset. I am excited by the prospect of being able to begin to shape an approach to the representation of views on health and social care in Somerset that will build on the excellent work done already.”
Former ambulanceman Bob, from Shepton Mallet, has had plenty of first-hand experience with local health and care, having worked as an ambulanceman for over 30 years in the county and looking after his wife Shirley as her main carer before she passed away in 2010. His 51-year-old daughter Michelle is also in long term care, after suffering a stroke several years ago. Bob said: “Before Shirley became ill with an autoimmune disease, we were both very active in our retired years and enjoyed going on holidays around the UK. When she lost her mobility we initially tried to keep up these trips but soon found it too difficult. We then spent an increasing amount of time at home or in and out of local hospitals. Our experience with these health and care services wasn’t always good. Then when my daughter suffered a massive stroke at the age of 48, I have had to deal with issues over the type of care she receives. By talking and listening to people who have been ill – you get fantastic knowledge and feedback on health services, which we will all have to use at some stage in our lives.”
Mike is a retired soldier, and wants to make sure that the public using NHS and Social Services have the opportunity to have their say through Healthwatch Somerset. Previously a Healthwatch Volunteer in the Enter and View programme, he is also a caseworker for the Services Charity, The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens’ Families Association (SSAFA). Mike’s background of dealing with government, industry and people gives him a comprehensive insight and questioning, but supporting attitude, in the matters dealt with by the Board.
David, who is retired, has volunteered with Healthwatch Somerset for 4 years. He volunteers to make a difference to the way the NHS is delivered in Somerset, and the quality of care offered, and is currently receiving treatment and support for Parkinson’s Disease, and says that the support is brilliant. As a volunteer David is interested in the range of opportunities that are open to him, and encourages other just to try it.
Rachel is a parent of two adult sons, with autism and learning disabilities has been a carer for 30 years. She volunteers with Healthwatch Somerset to ensure that the voice of people with Autism and learning disabilities and their families are represented. Rachel is a freelance personalisation consultant. This involves supporting the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group to implement the rights of eligible people to good quality health and social care services under the Care Act.
Rachel sees that one of her core roles is to gather feedback from those who use services and informal carers to ensure they get choice and control with better outcomes. As well as Rachel’s role on the Interim Board, she also undertakes Enter and View visits, where Volunteers go into health and social care services to see and hear directly how those services are provided; collect the views of those using those services, the views of their relatives and the staff delivering it.
Alan is a retired Royal Air Force Nurse from Burnham-on-Sea, and now he is settled in Somerset, feels that he has time to give something back to the community. He has volunteered before with SSAFA, 2012 Olympics, British Red Cross, Canal and River Trust. Alan said: “Healthwatch Somerset fits with my background in Nursing and the Armed Forces. As a relatively new arrival to this area, I can see the issues that affect an ageing population, and recent reports that put Somerset in a high position on the young adult mental health issues league table. I have an interest in PTSD and dementia, and therefore am the square peg that fits the square hole that is the Board member with interest in mental health issues.”
Virginia, from Monkton Heathfield, is a freelance improvement adviser to Local Authorities. She is invited to work with councils all over England evaluating the performance of special educational needs, early help and children’s social care services. She helps them to identify what needs to be done differently to improve the outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. Virginia said: “I have volunteered with Healthwatch because I am passionate about giving people a voice and the opportunity to influence improvements, and shape health and care services to better meet local needs. The role of board member will enable me to use the experience, knowledge and skills that I have built up over my long career in children’s services to contribute to Healthwatch’s important and valuable work.”