This annual report tells the stories of how we have helped local people shape services and the difference our local Healthwatch has made.
The year was difficult at times, with our local health and care system experiencing some major challenges: Addenbrooke’s Hospital going into special measures as a result of a poor Care Quality Commission inspection; the collapse of an innovative contract to integrate Older People’s and Community Services; and ever-increasing pressure on budgets.
This year we have
Listened to hundreds of local people all over Cambridgeshire, online and face to face, visiting those not always heard by decision makers.
Asked questions when the older people’s health and adult community services contract collapsed in December after only 8 months.
Continued to ask questions about the length of time older people were waiting for care assessments, the Council told us they had hugely reduced this by January 2016.
Published our “Our Health Matters”, a summary of what local Gypsies and Travellers have told us about their health needs. We asked local health and care organisations to pledge to make care better for local Gypsies & Travellers.
Visited 13 local care homes, to see and hear what it is like to live in a care home in Cambridgeshire. We wrote reports and made suggestions to improve care in each of the homes. Real changes have been made as a result of our visits.
Worked with Ely College to involve over 100 young people in a conversation about mental health services, and published our My Own Mind report about this work. This helped influence what new mental health services for children and young people look like.
Published our "First Steps to Health" report into local GP, pharmacy and NHS 111 services.
Won a national Healthwatch Award for ‘Working with the Care Quality Commission’.
Continued to work with our 23 fantastic volunteers; they have helped us listen stories, visit local services and even run workshops to help professionals understand local people’s experiences.
In March 2016, our volunteers visited Addenbrookes Hospital to talk to people about their experiences of outpatient appointments. This is something the hospital asked us to help them with, to help improve people’s experiences of care. We visited three outpatient clinics, and talked to more than 200 people.
After our visit, we shared what we found out with the hospital. As a result, they:
Have changed and improved the signage throughout the outpatient clinics.
Have arranged for a drinks and snacks trolley to visit the outpatient clinics.
Are looking at different ways of contacting patients about appointments. This includes text messaging and email. They are also looking at introducing a patient portal, so people can manage their own appointments online.
Are piloting an outpatients’ helpline in a number of clinics.
Children and young people want mental health support that is meaningful and relevant to them. This is one of the main messages children and young people have for local mental health organisations, in a new report published by Healthwatch Cambridgeshire.
We are publishing Thriving, our report into children and young people's mental health, today to co-incide with Mental Health Awareness week 16 - 22 May.
We wrote Thriving to help make sure children and young people are listened to by the people making decisions about mental health services for them. The report is already helping to inform the re-design of local mental health services.
We were asked to do this work to help the Emotional Health and Wellbeing Board for Children and Young People redesign mental health services for children and young people. They are developing a new way of providing mental health and wellbeing support to young people which is more about what young people need. The Board includes Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council.
This meeting will be held in public 19:00 - 21:00 at The Meadows Community Centre, 1 St Catharine’s Road, CAMBRIDGE, CB4 3XJ. You are welcome to attend.
We will be making decisions about our strategic plan and future work programme.
If you have any questions for our Board, you can ask them at this meeting. Please try to tell us your questions by Sunday 8th May or we may not be able to answer them on the day. If we cannot answer your questions at the meeting, we will make sure we get an answer for you afterwards.
Click here for directions to The Meadows Community Centre.
Last month we asked you to let us know what you think about the work we are doing, and what issues you think we need to look at in the future.
Who we talked to
79 people answered our questions. Although this is just a small sample of opinion, it will help us improve what we do and plan our future work.
Most people had heard of us before they saw the survey; 47% had contacted us before.
Most people think we are friendly; this is highest amongst people who have been in touch with us before.
We heard from people from across the county.
We heard from local individuals, as well as local health and care commissioners and providers.
It is important that Healthwatch listens to local people’s experiences of health and care services, and feeds this back to the people who plan, pay for or provide care. We are particularly keen to listen to the experiences of people who are not always heard by health and care decision makers. We asked how well you think we listen. This is what you said:
Healthwatch's role is to make sure local organisations listen to people when they make decisions about our health and care services. We also promote opportunities to have a say through our Consultation Network. We asked you how well you think we involve people in health and care decision making. This is what you said:
We can challenge local health and social care commissioners and providers, if care isn’t working in the way it should, or if a decision has been made where people have not been able to contribute. We can do this by asking questions that they have to answer. We go to a number of local health and care policy boards, to make sure they are thinking about local people's experiences when they are making decisions about care services. We can refer anything that we think is a national, rather than a local issue, to Healthwatch England; they can use this information to help challenge national health and care organisations.
We have only recently started using the word "challenge", to describe our statutory powers. We previously talked about influencing.
What we have learnt
This is only a small sample, but it does show that most of the people we talk to do think we are doing a good job. However, there are more "don't knows" than we would like to see, and a few people don't think we are doing a good job.
We need to do more to make sure that the messages about our services are promoted clearly to the different people we talk to, and work with. It is important we explain what we mean by the words "involve" and "challenge"; including exactly what our statutory powers let us do.
What people want us to look at in the future
We asked local people what they think we should be looking at in the future. The top answers were:
Impact of funding cuts / Inadequate capacity across the system / Quality
Older people / Ageing population
Older People's Adult Care contract /ClinicCG competency & commissioning
Workforce availability & development
We have looked at the ideas that people have suggested, together with what we know is happening within local health and care services, and the experiences that people are telling us about. We will use this to help us decide what we should be working on in the future.
19:00-21:00 at The Maple Centre, Oak Drive, HUNTINGDON, PE29 6NP
This meeting will be held in public and you are welcome to attend.
At this meeting we will be welcoming:
Alan Burns, Chair, and Lance McCarthy, Chief Executive of Hinchingbrooke Hospital
Tracy Dowling, Chief Operating Officer Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group
They will be giving an update on what is important at Hinchingbrooke Hospital right now, and for the future. This includes any potential joint work with Peterborough and Stamford Hospital NHS Trust. Read our story about this here.
If you have any questions for our Board or speakers, you can ask them at this meeting. Please try to tell us your questions by Sunday 13th March, or we may not be able to answer them on the day. If we cannot answer your questions at the meeting, we will make sure we get an answer for you afterwards.
Our Health Matters is a summary of what local Gypsies, Romany and Travellers have told us about their health needs. They make up the largest ethnic minority communities in Cambridgeshire; however, they are more likely to have poor health than other local people.
This project was led by Dr Kate D’Arcy, one of our Outreach volunteers. Kate works at the University of Bedfordshire and has experience of work and research with Gypsy, Romany and Traveller communities.
19:00 - 21:00 The Meadows Community Centre, 1 St Catharine’s Road, Cambridge, CB4 3XJ
Click here for directions to The Meadows Community Centre
This meeting will be held in public and you are welcome to attend.
At this meeting we will be welcoming a senior representative from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group. They will be giving an update on the older people’s and adult social care contract, which ended in December after only eight months. Read our story on this here.
During the meeting you will get an opportunity to ask our Directors any questions that you may have. Please try to give us 5 days’ notice of your questions, if you want an answer on the day. If we cannot answer your question at the meeting, we will make sure we do afterwards. Other items on the agenda are not open to public discussion during the meeting.
There will be some spare copies of the papers available at the meeting.
On Tuesday 20th October we published our My Own Mind report, looking at Ely College student's attitudes to stress and anxiety.
We worked with the students in the sixth form health and social care class to develop the project; mental wellbeing is a subject the students told us was important to them. We designed a survey with the students, who helped promote it to the rest of the school. They also helped organise two focus group sessions. 107 young people shared their experiences and opinions.
We know that keeping emotionally well and getting help early on, can stop people’s mental health getting worse. This report tells many stories about young people’s experiences and the sorts of things that can help them stay healthy and well.
As a result of these findings we put together a list of what young people would like to see change. We at Healthwatch Cambridgeshire will be using this report to raise the issues with schools, the County Council, the Clinical Commissioning Group and other organisations that have a role to play.
As a local Healthwatch we have a statutory “Duty to Enter and View”. This is our legal right to visit places that provide publicly funded health or care services, to see and hear how people experience care.
Our reports are public documents and we share them with the commissioners and providers of the service we are visiting; we share them with regulators like the Care Quality Commission; and we share them with Healthwatch England.
During 2015-16 we ran a project to Enter & View 13 local residential and nursing care homes, to find out what it is like to live there.
What we found
Residents told us they were able to make decisions about what they liked to eat, what they wanted to wear and what activities they wanted to take part in. The residents we saw and talked to appeared content, comfortable and clean. We made suggestions or recommendations for improvement in each of the homes we visited.
What changed as a result of our visits
Residents became more involved in planning activities at several of the homes we visited.
New disabled parking bay for visitors in one care home.
New flooring and table covers in one care home.
More choice of books made available in one care home.
Healthwatch information displayed in all care homes, and all signed up to receive our regular hardcopy newsletters.
“First Steps to Health” report into local GP, NHS 111 and Pharmacy services.
We wanted to find out how people used these services, if they had enough information to make a choice about where to go when they needed help, and what kind of care they got.
We spoke to 1,180 people across the whole of Cambridgeshire about their experiences and opinions of care; we worked particularly hard to talk to people who are often not properly represented in surveys of this kind, for example young people aged 17-18 years.
Our Healthwatch found that 89% of people were positive about the care they received from their doctors surgery. One patient said “Our GP surgery is amazing. The receptionists and GPs are always helpful”.
But we also found that many people were not aware of or using other local services like Pharmacies and NHS 111 for advice.
Half of people who commented on using phone triage to get an emergency appointment at their GP surgery, were struggling with this system. This was particularly a problem for people who were deaf, hearing impaired or whose first language was not English.
Our Healthwatch also heard about problems that people with additional communication needs had getting the care they needed. One person said “I find it difficult to get appointments. I had a routine blood test a month ago but can not get the results as was told to phone (I can’t phone as deaf) so called in person but was told again to phone, so gave up.”
We were told by some about how hard it can be to talk to front line staff about booking an emergency appointment for a mental health problem.
We have written to NHS England and Cambridgeshire Clincial commissioning Group with a copy of the report, including our recommendations for them to help improve care.
Click on the links below to read the full report or executive summary.