01278 264 405 or 0800 999 1286 (freephone) info@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk

62% of people in South West ready to help improve health and social care after coronavirus

Healthwatch Somerset has joined local and national health and care organisations calling on Somerset residents to give feedback about their care during coronavirus (COVID-19) to help services reflect, recover, and improve.

New research from the Care Quality Commission and Healthwatch England shows that 62% of people in the South West say they are more likely to take steps to improve health and social care services since the outbreak of COVID-19.

In response, Healthwatch Somerset is supporting Because We All Care, a new campaign calling on local people who use services to help shape future health and social care, locally and nationally.

The campaign builds on Healthwatch Somerset’s recent work encouraging local people to share feedback on their experiences of health and social care services during the pandemic, to help services identify and address quality issues to support local patients.

What are people in South West England saying?

The national research, conducted following the start of the COVID-19 crisis, has revealed a fascinating snapshot of how people in the South West of England view feedback on care:

  • 56% of people said they would be more willing since COVID-19 to support NHS and social care services by actively providing feedback on their care.
  • 44% of people reported to have avoided services due to COVID-19 (27% below national average of 71%).
  • 60% reported noticeable changes to the standard of care resulting from the pandemic.
  • 41% of people are particularly more grateful for GP services.
  • 74% of people surveyed said that feedback is an important way to improve services, yet despite greater public willingness to contribute, some barriers do remain.
  • While 41% of people are more likely to provide positive feedback on care, 26% also now consider themselves less likely to provide negative feedback on care.
  • 29% of people said they would be reluctant to provide negative feedback in case it increases pressure on services or staff.

What are Somerset residents saying about local health and care during COVID-19?

So far, almost 200 local people have told Healthwatch Somerset what has worked well and what hasn’t with health and social care services during COVID-19. (See examples of public feedback below.)

The most common areas of feedback have been about GP’s (55% positive), dental care (5% positive), mental health (5% positive) and pharmacies (28% positive).  86% of those who have responded say they have had no symptoms of COVID-19, and 36% of respondents have chosen to self-isolate for 12 weeks, 45% due to other health issues.  Most Somerset residents who have shared their experiences so far are aged 55-69 (81%).

Hannah Gray, Healthwatch Somerset Manager, is calling on people from across the county, of all ages and with a variety of health and care needs, to share their experiences to help local services reflect and improve:  “It’s great to see public appreciation for the work our health and social care staff have done during the coronavirus pandemic.  They have had to adapt at great speed to care for people with the virus, while trying to maintain care and support for many of our most sick and vulnerable people.  With services now working to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19, public feedback has never been more important.

“We are launching the Because We All Care campaign to help local people understand how, by sharing their experiences, they can help NHS and social care services spot what is working and what could be done better.  We want as many Somerset residents as possible to tell us about their care during COVID-19, the good and the bad, no matter how big or small.  Your views really will help local health and social care services to understand, develop and improve care for you, your loved ones, and the local community.”

You can share your experiences and feedback, confidentially, by completing Healthwatch Somerset’s online survey or by contacting the local office on 01278 264405. (Survey now closed)

Healthwatch Somerset can also provide you with advice and information to help you access the care and support you need.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector Adult Social Care, Care Quality Commission said:  “People working in health and social care have been going to extraordinary lengths to deliver good, safe care during this global crisis.  They have never had a more crucial – or a more challenging – role to play.  This new research clearly shows the public’s appreciation for the care and support they and their loved ones have received and it’s inspiring that people are now looking for ways to channel this into practical action.  Now more than ever, every voice really does matter.  It’s only by hearing what’s working and what’s not, that health and social care providers can improve the quality of care and support that they are delivering.”

Public feedback from the Healthwatch Somerset survey about health and care during

Care homes outstanding communication with relatives:  “Chelston Park Care home that looks after my mother has been extremely well managed and their level of communication with relatives has been outstanding.  Using Facebook and email to keep us up to date with the care home and changes in government guidelines that affect them has been excellent.  Offering other methods of communicating with our loved once safely has been a very nice touch.”

Excellent pharmacy service for repeat prescriptions:  “I routinely use my GP pharmacy for repeat prescriptions.  I already use the Patient Access App to order my medications and this has not changed during the COVID outbreak.  The pharmacy continued to provide me an excellent service without any change to the quality of delivery.  For my most recent collection I received a text message saying the items were ready for collection – this was a new feature I hadn’t seen before but proved to be a great addition and allowed me to collect earlier than anticipated.”

Mental health services under pressure:  “I am aware of people who’ve struggled to access mental health services, particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Community mental health teams have had fewer available mental health social workers, and the service has already experienced much more demand than they are able to deliver.  The longer-term effects on the local community’s mental health will need a suitable service and appropriate funding.”

Wonderful community support for carers:  “The Carers Service and Village Agents has just been wonderful and so helpful.  Some other charities seem to have closed recently, so it has been great to receive support from my local Village Agent from the start of this situation.”

Happy with health check by phone:  “My youngest daughter was due to have her two-year check and then COVID19 happened.  I was so impressed that the health worker texted to see if I wanted to rearrange the appointment or was happy to have a call in place of the appointment.  Fantastic and I’m hoping this worked better for everyone – less admin to reorganise another appointment and addressed any concerns at the right developmental stage.”

Delays to dental care:  “My daughter chipped her tooth and her appointment was cancelled.  I have been told that when I rebook there will be a three month wait and it is not clear what will be done in three months.  I anticipate another appointment will be made as treatment in a community dentist is limited, the dentist said she had referred my daughter, but I have not heard anything yet.”