Our priorities for April 2020 – March 2021
Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s priorities for this year have been identified and agreed as part of the annual work plan process. These projects are:
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 never been more important. It 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 could be particularly vulnerable to the disruption to everyday care.
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.
- Living with a long-term health condition in Covid-19 – what local people told us (Report, December 2020)
- Gloucestershire health and social care – Six months of COVID-19: What local people told us (Report, November 2020)
- Dental services during Covid-19: Difficulties and delays in accessing dental care in Gloucestershire (Report, September 2020)
- Care during Covid-19: A carers perspective (Report, September 2020)
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.
- Accessing GP Practices in Gloucestershire (Report, February 2021)
Understanding social isolation
This research project aims to build a better understanding of what social isolation means for people in Gloucestershire, particularly in the context of Covid-19. Previously, we have identified social isolation as an issue for many people in our communities. Gloucestershire’s Health and Wellbeing Board has identified social isolation as an area that needs attention, and the NHS is working towards a locality-based approach that links services and communities and helps tackle social isolation. We will review and build on the work already done, locally and nationally, looking for evidence of best practice in health and wellbeing and the impact this has on health and care services. We will consult with key groups of people who are socially isolated, and consider what makes a difference in Gloucestershire and what more can be done.
Service to service
Transitions between services: Hospital discharge
Anxiety, delay and confusion are common themes in the feedback we hear from people moving from one service to another. While health and care services themselves are often regarded as good, the transition between services can be stressful. We are investigating this further by engaging with people who have left hospital in the last 12 months. Our aim is to identify what works well and what needs to be improved for patients and their carers to deliver a more seamless transition between services.
Find out more
Young Listeners’ Project
Healthwatch Gloucestershire aims to establish a new Young Listeners’ project. Young people from across Gloucestershire would be recruited as volunteer young listeners to engage with other children and young people so that their voices are involved in shaping local services.
This project is on hold until it is safe to go out and engage with young people around the county.
Mental health A&E services
Last year, 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.
- Experiences of urgent mental health care in accident & emergency: A Gloucestershire perspective (Report, updated November 2020)
- Access to A&E care for people with a mental health condition (January 2020)
Mental health from a carer’s perspective
In 2019, Healthwatch Gloucestershire 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.
- Experience of Mental Health Services in Gloucestershire: A carers perspective (Report, January 2020)
Mental health and substance misuse services
Healthwatch Gloucestershire is carrying 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 are visiting local groups that provide support for service users, their families and unpaid carers. These conversations will largely be carried out in the form of a focus groups and will help feed into a report which will be presented to the health and community services. Patients and their families were also asked to share their views and experiences in an online survey (closed on 30 November 2019). Final report to follow.
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. The NHS is working in partnership with local Healthwatch to capture the views of those using the services or are eligible to do so.
The engagement work, including an online survey ran until 4 October 2019. We have submitted our final report to NHS England and NHS Improvement, who will analyse the feedback, publish the findings and explain the next steps.
- NHS special care dental services in the South West (August 2019)
NHS Long Term Plan
The NHS has produced a Long Term Plan, setting out all the things it wants health services to do better for people across the country. Your local NHS needed to hear from you about what those changes should look like in your community. Our report has now been published that details the engagement work carried out by Healthwatch Gloucestershire around the NHS Long Term Plan.
- NHS Long Term Plan: The views of Gloucestershire residents (Report, July 2019)
- The top four things people in Gloucestershire would like to see improved in local NHS services (July 2019)
- Thank you: Over 240 people tell Healthwatch Gloucestershire what they think would make the NHS better (May 2019)
- Gloucestershire resident Brian urges people to speak up (March 2019)
- Project page: NHS Long Term Plan
Mental Health Survey
Healthwatch Gloucestershire has carried out engagement with people of all ages in Gloucestershire, in order to find out views on the current provision and gaps, along with areas of good practice and areas for improvement. We also asked people how they maintain good mental health. Our report has now been published and will be presented to the Gloucestershire Health and Wellbeing Board.
- Exploring the views of Gloucestershire people on mental health services in the county (Report, October 2019)
- More needs to be done to improve local mental health services say Healthwatch Gloucestershire (October 2019)
- “Volunteering has improved my mental health” (January 2019)
- Mental health research launches in Gloucestershire (December 2018)
- Download the Information leaflet
Campervan & Comments Tour 2019
Healthwatch Gloucestershire staff and volunteers took the roads of the county in March 2019 to find out what people think about local health and social care services.
Read more about what we did and where we went here.
End of Life Survey
As part of the End of Life Care Strategy being carried out in the county, Healthwatch Gloucestershire asked local people about they types of end of life support available for individuals over 18 years old both locally and nationally. They asked about non-clinical support i.e. not information about a specific illness or condition, but other types of information that would support people through the end of life.
- End of life report: Evaluation of non-clinical support (Report, November 2018)
- Research into end of life care in Gloucestershire (November 2018)
Care Homes Strategy
Research consultancy Evolving Communities and the county’s independent health and social care champion Healthwatch Gloucestershire have been working in partnership with 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.
- Shaping future care provision for over 65’s in Gloucestershire (Report, December 2018 – led by our parent company, Evolving Communities)
- The future of care homes in Gloucestershire (October 2018)
Food & Families Project
Community researchers from Evolving Communities’ Food & Families project and staff from Healthwatch Gloucestershire asked Podsmead residents for their thoughts about all things food related as part of a wider project for Gloucestershire Public Health.