Healthwatch giving the Vulnerable a Voice

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Torbay’s independent consumer champion for health and social care Healthwatch Torbay have been working hard to ensure that the voices of some of the most vulnerable members of the community are being listened to.

Healthwatch Torbay – a registered charity – use real patient feedback to make recommendations for change to health & social care providers. They have an ‘enter and view’ team of authorised trained volunteer representatives who visit care services to observe and assess their quality, from the perspective of the community, speaking directly with service users, relatives, carers and staff.

The team have been busy recently visiting care home residents and those who receive care at home to find out exactly how effective the care is they receive. They have now ensured that newly designed posters, leaflets and specially made sealable freepost feedback postcards have been distributed into all residential care homes in Torbay and other relevant organisations. Healthwatch Torbay Chair Dr Kevin Dixon explains why:

“Torbay has a significantly higher elderly population than the national average, with many living in residential care homes or receiving care at home. Some of these people can feel isolated or alone, and we’ve even found that some are reluctant to speak out against the way they are treated in case this affects any ongoing care.

We want to let these people know that they are not alone and they do have a right to speak up and be listened to. As an independent charity that providers and commissioners are legally bound to listen to, we can ensure any concerns are raised anonymously if need be and without consequence.

Our local care homes have welcomed our work on this, and I have to thank them for their support. The majority of people we have spoken to so far rate the care they receive very highly, and it is only right to praise those providers that are performing well. However, there are still areas of concern that we are raising at various key meetings with those in charge, including the Care Quality Commission, and these are being explored in greater detail.

I urge anyone with any concerns about any of the health and social care services they use locally to get in touch with us and let us know, so we can let those in charge know exactly what is going well and what needs to be improved.”

Torbay Council’s Director of Adult Services, Caroline Taylor, said:

“The council supports the ‘enter and view process’ as part of a range of initiatives to ensure quality of care and to enable an open dialogue with providers and families and those cared for in Torbay. The council funds Healthwatch as part of our statutory responsibilities.”

Recently, the Healthwatch Torbay enter and view team have collated data for their social care assessment report, a number of different enter and view reports of Torbay Residential Care Homes, and a report into local domiciliary care, amongst others, with many resulting in action taken by providers and commissioners. All these are available on the Healthwatch Torbay website via http://healthwatchtorbay.org.uk/about-us/meetings-reports/.

Torbay residents can also use this website to share their local health and social care experiences by rating and reviewing a local health & social care service directly online. They can also do this by calling Healthwatch free on 08000 520 029.

If you are interested in volunteering for Healthwatch Torbay, either on their enter & view team or in a variety of other roles, please get in touch.

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