I thought this time I would do a post on an healthwatch event. Now I have done some posts about healthwatch before, sometimes Healthwatch Lewisham and other times Lambeth, but this time I was over in the London borough of Southwark for the Healthwatch Southwark event – One Year on.
Before I continue on how the event went, what is healthwatch Southwark all about? Well basically taken from their site – Healthwatch gives people a POWERFUL voice locally and nationally on matters concerning health services. At a local level, local Healthwatch will work to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it’s improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow.
Now there are healthwatches across different boroughs of London and the UK, all giving people the chance to form an opinion of the health services. Healthwatch does more than just listen and engage, they also do enter and view of health services and produce many reports. So the thing is what has Healthwatch Southwark been up to over the year they have been in action?
Well on the 22nd of November, I took a trip over to Pembroke House over in Southwark and was greeted friendly by the healthwatch staff and a staff member of “Community Action Southwark”. As a reminder, the Healthwatches are heavily volunteer focused and depend on involvement by the community, especially by those who have a passion for improving or championing the health service in the UK.
When I entered the premises, I was glad to see quite a few stalls on display, although one of my main interest was the stall about mental health awareness and engagement. I took the opportunity to visit the CoolTan Wellbeing stall. CoolTan Arts exists to inspire and transform peoples lives though creativity and self-advocacy. The stall advertised the up and coming CoolTan Coolwalks, which I have been on several times. The stall also had booklets and information about mental health and a video about different periods the coolwalks focused on.
The next stall I visited was a stall promoting sexual health research and awareness, which is one of Southwark Healthwatch’s main area on raising awareness about sexual Health. I spoke to the stall holder about her research and its main aim is to have people from the area of Lambeth & Southwark from aged 16-30 be part of an innovative sexual health study, where people can look to getting a sexual health check and tell them what they think about the service. Getting tested on sexual health is very important for many reasons.
Soon I spoke to the stall holders of the Southwark & Lambeth Integrated care where Health and social care organisations and people in Southwark and Lambeth have come together so that local people can lead healthier and happier lives. I was impressed by their display and the stall holders explained some important reasons for building a community along the lines of better healthcare. They want people to at least
– Feel they are a part of the community
– Have systems in place so they can avoid having a crisis at a later stage
– Live independently
– For carers to live the life they want to the best of their ability.
– and lots more
Another stall I visited was the Southwark CCG stall, where they had lots of interesting information on what Southwark Doctors have been doing to improve healthcare for the borough. The CCG stands for Clinical Commissioning Group, which basically means a membership organisation of all the GP surgeries in a borough who help organise the delivery of NHS services. One of the main focus of the CCG is of the commissioning of services hence where should the money be allocated to on providers of health services.
My main interest was the Southwark CCG summary annual report for 2013-14. I also picked up and took away people’s health information is used in the borough of southwark. I urge those interested in their health and health services to read up on such information when they can.
I also noticed stalls doing free health checks, free eye check examinations and I was also given a free health goodie bag. I guess Xmas has come early for me.
After having some tasty lunch, which was provided free of charge by Healthwatch Southwark. We then went upstairs for the main event. The event was to hear what has healthwatch Southwark been up to? It was time to hear their story.
First to speak was Southwark Healthwatch Chair David Cooper. David spoke on the following being how much work and effort HW Southwark has been doing, The new NHS 5 year plan in south london, how financially difficult it has been for the health services and the importance of Healthwatch Southwark.
David then moved on to the agenda of today’s speakers, which I was keen to hear from.
We were then introduced to the new Healthwatch Southwark Manager Aarti Gandesha, now Aarti spoke about more about Healthwatch Southwark’s aims as you can see from the picture. She also talked about how people can get involved with healthwatch and there are many ways to get involved if you are passionate about your health services.
Aarti then talked about what HW Southwark has been up to so far and many of their engagements have been on the community focus groups involving different members of Southwark’s communities. Healthwatch Southwark have also held many public forum events and community events. Plus HW Southwark have been busy collecting stories for their joint ‘1000 lives’ project.
The Healthwatch Manager then moved on to explain what Healthwatch priorities are for Southwark and there are 4 being
1. Access to GP Services
2. Access to Mental Health Services (my main area of interest)
3. Sexual Health Services
4. Social care Services
Next Aarti talked about Healthwatch Southwark’s archievements during the past year where they have
– Engaged with a large number of people over group sessions
– Established 4 priority areas
– have 676 supporters
– received 194 info and signposting queries
– and more
After Aarti’s presentation and talk, we then got to hear a story from a carer in the borough of Southwark. The story resonated similar themes that I go through as a carer e.g. the worry of services being closed down, being able to relate to others, the hope that things will get better and having to provide advice for others.
We then got to hear a talk and presentation from Southwark CCG Director Paul Jenkins. Now Paul’s talk was on the current & Future Opportunities for locality and neighbourhood working. Paul talked about understanding Southwark’s population and health needs (shown as a tree in picture).
Plus Paul talked about the direction of travel when people needed to access health services in Southwark. The aim was to look into providing GP practices that will work closer together in the borough, plus providing a wider range of hospital care closer to patients homes. The thing I noticed from Paul’s talk is that services will need to work together since there will be many challenges.
We were shown the different neighbourhood groups of practices and their reach into the community. Plus the explanation of the direction of travel where many schemes and projects will be set with the aim of GPs working together
The last speaker was Kerry Crichlow who is Southwark Councils director of strategy and commissioning. Her talk was about health and social care commissioning and the integration in the borough of Southwark.
Kerry gave a quick run down on the big issues about commissioning. Those being an ageing population and responding to financial challenges, plus health inequalities. Next Kerry moved onto opportunities where a strategy developed to aid the patient’s journey through their experiences in health. Plus building a stronger framework on prevention and inclusion. Kerry spoke more about the opportunities to shape provisioning around people and maximising integration of health services.
After the presentations, the public and patients who attended got to ask some quick questions, I won’t go into the answers, but some questions were based on
What can be of assistance for those who have physical disabilities or those who have hearing impairment?
What can bridge the divide in health equalities in the borough of Southwark?
How can personalisation help those who have had bad experiences health assessment?
The next and last stage of the event was people to seperate into groups and provide HW Southwark and their facilitators opinions on the following
1 – Service Changes
2 – HW Priorities
3 – Involvement in HW Southwark
The one I chose was the “Involvement” table on how can Healthwatch get more people to volunteer. Each person on our table talked about their role and connections and we also talked about who do each of us talk to when we experience good or bad things in health service. Usually it would be our friends, family or specific groups. For me I tend to speak about my experiences at a carer’s group.
We also discussed the importance of social media, which is one of my area of expertise and also the purpose of volunteering since some would like to volunteer, but are not sure how much work it would involve.
After feedback from each table. David then thanked all for attending. I was particularly glad I attended the event and was allowed to even blog the event. What I got most off this event is learning more about Southwark’s Health and social care setting, learning even more about Healthwatch, networking as I got access to sit on more groups and also giving my opinions.
Thanks for reading my blog post of this event.