01452 504989 or 0800 652 5193 (freephone) info@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk

Other Projects

In addition to our annual priority projects, we work on a range of other projects that arise during the year. This can be in response to current and emerging developments in health and social care, through our involvement with projects to support our local partners, or because we are monitoring the progress health and social care providers make to act on our previous recommendations for change.

2021 projects

Understanding social isolation and loneliness

Widespread research highlights the detrimental effect of loneliness on people’s health.  Social isolation is as an issue for many people in our local communities and this was intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Tackling social isolation and loneliness in the community and across the health and care system is a priority in Gloucestershire and nationally, including in the NHS which is working towards a locality-based approach that links services and communities.

In spring 2021, we investigated local people’s experiences of social isolation and loneliness, and researched initiatives from across the country that are working to tackle loneliness and social isolation through voluntary and community services and the wider health and care system.

We shared our findings with local health and care partners so that they can learn from local people about what it feels like to be lonely and isolated, and what support people would like but may not be feel comfortable asking for.  We presented a range of ideas to help develop and improve support for those who feel lonely and isolated in Gloucestershire.

Watch our video to see what people told us.

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Hospital discharge and transitions between services

We often hear about people’s concerns when they or their loved ones are moved between health and care services, including delays and feelings of anxiety and confusion.  While health and care services themselves are often regarded as good, the transition between services can be stressful.

We wanted to understand how this could be improved, so we engaged with people who had left hospital in the last 12 months with continuing health care needs.  We identified what works well and what needs to be done differently to help deliver a more seamless transition from hospital to other services, for patients and their carers.  We have reported our findings and recommendations to Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, to inform service improvements.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme

In response to Covid-19, the NHS launched one of the largest ever public vaccination programmes.  Between March to May 2021, we ran a survey in partnership with Gloucestershire’s NHS and care providers and the local voluntary sector, to understand the publics’ views, needs and expectations, and to find out about the barriers which may be preventing some people from being vaccinated.  We shared our findings with Gloucestershire’s health and care providers to help them understand how to maximise the effectiveness of vaccine delivery across the county.

Improving access to GP care

​Access to GP care and the way GP Practices interact with their patients is one of the most common topics that people feedback to us about.  In response, we decided to explore this more fully, including how people’s access to GP care has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  We identified four key areas to investigate: access to GP appointments, use of technology, attitudes of surgery staff, and access to quality information.  In February 2021, we published our findings and recommendations for how GP Practices could improve access to care.  Our report has been shared with Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.

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Mental health

We will follow up our previous work on mental health services in Gloucestershire to see how our previous work is making an impact.

Read about our previous work:

Health inequalities

Health inequalities have become increasingly evident over the last year and we will be looking carefully at barriers to health and social care as well as the wider wellbeing agenda.

2020 projects

Care during Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic required health and social care services to adapt at great speed to care for people with the virus, while trying to reduce infections and maintain care for many of our most sick and vulnerable people.  Many treatments and services were put on hold, while others introduced new ways of delivering care.  Public feedback has and will help NHS and social care services understand how to respond effectively to Covid-19 to provide the care and support people need.

Between April and September 2020, we ran a public feedback project to find out how the pandemic was affecting people’s experiences of care locally.  During August to October 2020, we sought feedback from people living with long-term conditions, because as regular users of health and social care services they can be particularly vulnerable to the disruption to everyday care.  In September 2020, we investigated NHS dental provision in Gloucestershire in response to increasing public concern about the lack of dentistry during the pandemic.

Throughout these projects, we shared real-time feedback with local health and care providers to help them respond quickly.  Our reports identify the challenges and achievements of a health and social care sector turned upside down by the pandemic.  They highlight common issues raised by the public to help care providers understand how to develop to meet needs of the people they care for.  This work will inform developments in local health and social care, and it will also feed into national research carried out by Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.

Related links:

Mental health A&E services

In 2019, when we investigated local people’s views about mental health services in Gloucestershire, it became clear that people were having difficulties accessing mental health support when in crisis; they were unsure where to go for support and felt they were being left to fend for themselves.  Also, concerns about accessing mental health support in Gloucestershire, particularly for patients in crisis, feature prominently in feedback we receive from the public.

In January to March 2020, we worked on an engagement project with Evolving Communities to learn more about the experiences of those who access mental health support through the A&E departments at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital.  Our joint report, Access to A&E care for people with a mental health condition: A Gloucestershire perspective, provides valuable insight into the emergency care and support needs of those with mental health issues.  It has been shared with those responsible for providing mental health services in the county to inform their plans for improvement.

Read more:

Mental health from a carer’s perspective

In 2019, we gathered a wide variety of feedback on many aspects of mental health services from people across the county.  We identified people who were caring for those who had a mental health illness and who wanted their voice heard.  Carers spoke to us about what mattered most to them regarding mental health support for the person they care for.

Read more:

2019 projects

Mental health and substance misuse services

We carried out a research project after seeing a rise in complaints from people about the lack of support and integration between mental health and drug and alcohol services in the county for those with co-existing problems.  A team of trained Healthwatch Gloucestershire volunteers visited local groups that provide support for service users, their families and unpaid carers, and carried out focus group discussions.  Patients and their families also shared their views and experiences in an online survey.

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NHS Special Care Dental Services

Special care dental services focus on improving the oral health of people who have a health condition or have circumstances which prevents them from using a high street dentist.  In October 2019, the NHS worked in partnership with local Healthwatch to capture the views of those using the services or are eligible to do so.  We have submitted our final report to NHS England Improvement, who will analyse the feedback, publish the findings and explain the next steps.

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NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS produced a Long Term Plan, setting out all the things it wants health services to do better for people across the country.  Local NHS needed to hear from their residents about what those changes should look like locally.  Our report details the engagement work we carried out along with our findings and recommendations.

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Mental Health Survey

We carried out engagement with people of all ages in Gloucestershire, to find out views on the current provision and gaps in mental health care, along with areas of good practice and areas for improvement.  We also asked people how they maintain good mental health.

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2018 projects

End of Life Survey

As part of the End of Life Care Strategy being developed for the county, we asked local people about the types of end of life support available for people over 18, locally and nationally. We asked about non-clinical support (not information about a specific illness or condition, but other types of information that would support people through the end of life).

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Care Homes Strategy

We worked with our partner research consultancy Evolving and Gloucestershire County Council to gather the views of Gloucestershire residents aged 65+, on care home and domiciliary care provision in the county.  The information gathered fed into a report that went to the Gloucestershire cabinet and fed into the Older People Care Home Strategy (June 2019) to help shape what care home provision looks like in the future.

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Food & Families Project

We worked with community researchers from Evolving Communities’ Food & Families project, to ask Podsmead residents for their thoughts about all things food related as part of a wider project for Gloucestershire Public Health.

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Priority projects

April 2021 – March 2022

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