Welcome to another blog post by Matthew Mckenzie, a former carer and carer activist from South London. I usually focus on carers who care for someone with a mental illness, but at times I delve into health and mental health.
Never before has the healthcare system in the UK been under a spotlight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many organisations that request unpaid carers to share their opinions on healthcare. One of them being healthwatch.
You as a carer can experience what healthcare is like, when the person you care for receives that care from health or mental health services. If the patient’s care is poor from those services, then unpaid carers are forced to step in. If health services do well, then the burden on carers is lifted.
To watch a video blog of this post, click the video below.
It is so important carers of those using the health care system come together and submit their views on healthcare.
Top 10 reasons to put your views on healthcare as a carer
1. To provide feedback to improve health services.
– At Healthwatch engagement meetings, Healthwatch usually ask questions to participants on how do they think health services are doing? It is the best time for carers to report or feedback how services are affecting the person they care for. These views can go back to improving health and social carer services.
2. A fulfillment of changing something
– Although carers can get fed up of stating the obvious when health services continue to struggle. It can be a fulfilling experience to use the power of your voice to institute change.
Not many people have time for unpaid carers along with the ‘cared for’ to try and change things for the better. As a carer its a chance to change things, which is better than no chance at all.
3. A great way to network with like minded people
– At times, there might be other carers attending Healthwatch events or groups interested in how health and social care is affecting carers and their ‘loved ones’. The more you attend health engagement events, the more you can network with like minded people. It is in carer’s interests to network and understand the pressures on health systems.
4. Getting information on health services
– It is not always feeding back your opinion on health and social care. At Healthwatch events, there are often reports and updates to the community. As a carer you can get the chance to find out how services are doing.
You can even ask questions requesting reports and updates for particular services, it is your right to know and you should exercise that right.
5. Being part of the ‘health’ community
Without good health or good healthcare services then the community suffers. There are local and national drives to improve health for everyone and get people to understand the importance of health services. A community that is interested on how health services is performing is able to inspire others. It takes time, but it is worth it.
6. Making a change for the better
People can either wait around for health services to change or continue to complain. Carer’s can try to see the overall picture of what things could be like if they feedback on healthcare experiences.
Carers cannot always expect the person they are caring for to do this all the time, so carers must want to change things for the better. A better healthcare system supports everyone, health professional, patients and their carers.
7. The reward is greater than the risk
The risk of healthcare failing or not getting responses can be catastrophic for everyone. The more feedback a healthcare system gets, the more information that can be tailored to improve health services. If people do nothing then their is always that risk. The risk can cause health systems to not perform, causing more patients to be unwell and not get a good experience of care.
8. Know who is responsible for what
When attending Healthwatch meetings and engagement events, notice who also turns up. There might be health commissioners who are responsible for purchasing health services. There also might be those who run those health services. Just knowing who those people are can be a way of holding them to account on services. It is possible at these events to even ask them questions or queries.
9. Meeting the challenges
The health and social care system is under increasing pressure. If it was not for increasing budget problems to services, then the COVID-19 crisis has increased the strain on services. All these are challenges for the 21st century and carers should try and rise to meet those challenges.
10. Helping other carers in your field
Information, reports and surveys from Healthwatch should not just stop at the carer attending such events. Carers can take the lead and spread information to other carers, especially at carer support groups or carer forums. Not every carer can be everywhere at once, so veteran unpaid carer can help others become more aware on how services are doing.