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.