Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and National Citizen Service visit to Elm Bank Care Home, Kettering
Posted on 20/09/2018
In July 2018, 15 young people completing the National Citizenship Service (NCS) scheme visited Elm Bank Care Home, in Kettering Northamptonshire. For this part of their NCS course they teamed up with Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire. The visit took place over two days so that the young people could get to know the residents and get a real feel for what Elm Bank was like. This report is written by the young people in their own words.
Supporting children and families where ASD and ADHD is suspected
Posted on 29/08/2018
Healthwatch Northamptonshire talked to 12 families who had experience of the process of assessment for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the previous 12 months. We also spoke to professionals who are involved in the assessment process or who provide support to families of children with ASD and ADHD. Sixteen interviews were carried out in total. This project aimed to explore families’ experiences of the current ASD/ADHD pathway in Northamptonshire and how effective it is. We also aimed to identify potential improvements and highlight good practice already taking place.
We found that the process of seeking a diagnosis of, and help for, ASD and ADHD often takes so long and is so fragmented that children and their families are struggling. There is often little or no support for the families to address the behavioural problems that lead them to seek professional help or a diagnosis. Delays in assessment can have a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing and educational outcomes.
Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Shooting Stars Visit to Kettering General Hospital
Posted on 11/07/2018
In April a group of young volunteers from Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Shooting Stars (a group for young people in Northamptonshire with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities) spent the day touring the children’s areas at Kettering General Hospital. They spent time in the Paediatric Emergency Department, Paediatric Outpatients and on Skylark children’s ward. While they were visiting they spoke to patients and members of staff to get their views and experiences too.
Overall, the young people were very impressed with the facilities the hospital had for children and young people. They felt there was a real sense that the needs of all children and young people were put first, including young people with additional needs. The report, written by both Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Shooting Stars members, is the first time that Young Healthwatch and Shooting Stars have collaborated in this way.
Health and social care needs of the Armed Forces Community in Northamptonshire
Posted on 05/07/2018
The Armed Forces community includes people serving in the Armed Forces as regulars or reservists, volunteers, ex-forces members (veterans) and family members of past and present service personnel. As not much is known about the Armed Forces community in Northamptonshire, Healthwatch Northamptonshire (the independent champion for health and social care in the county) carried out a survey on behalf of the Armed Forces Covenant Northamptonshire to find out more about the health and social care needs of this community.
Over 450 people took part in the survey between February and May 2018 and a report on the findings has been published today. In particular, the report highlights the mental health needs of Armed Forces veterans and their families and some of the difficulties experienced when they leave the Forces and transition back to civilian life.
The report recommendations call for a greater awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant amongst health professionals in the county, more timely access to suitable mental health support, and further preparation for civilian life when people leave the armed forces. These recommendations will be addressed through the Northamptonshire Armed Forces Covenant Partnership of organisations from across the county who work closely together to ensure the Covenant aims are upheld.
Young Healthwatch Visit to Northampton General Hospital
Posted on 17/01/2018
In October 2017 members of Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire visited the two children’s wards at Northampton General Hospital. They were given a tour and were able to meet some of the staff and speak to some patients and their parents. Healthwatch Northamptonshire staff accompanied the young people on the visit and training was provided to prepare the volunteers. The following report was written by the Young Healthwatch volunteers in their own words and expresses their own opinions and those of people they spoke to. The overall impression from the visit was very positive and we would like to thank Northampton General Hospital for making the visit possible.
Maternity services in Northamptonshire: The views of parents
Posted on 20/12/2017
During the summer of 2017, Healthwatch Northamptonshire worked with Nene NHS and NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to gather the views and experiences of parents that were currently using or had recently used maternity services in Northamptonshire. This work helped to inform and develop the Local Maternity System plan for Northamptonshire.
We spoke to 534 parents from across the county and most of them were satisfied with their overall experience of maternity care, especially those who gave birth in a midwife-led unit or at home. Being cared for by the same small team of healthcare professionals who were approachable (particularly midwives) and having consistent and clear information were particularly valued and helped parents make informed choices about their birth and care. Less positive feedback included the experiences of some mothers on labour wards, who were left unattended and in pain, and breastfeeding was an area where some parents would have liked better support and evidence-based information. Only one-third of parents had a choice about where they saw their midwife and less had a choice about where to see their consultant and two-thirds would have preferred to see their midwife or consultant at their GP surgery.
Discharge delays can create problems for hospitals, such as a lack of beds for incoming patients, and cause issues for older patients in particular. Conversely, discharging people too early or without the correct support in place can lead to them being readmitted to hospital. Healthwatch Northamptonshire sought to find out the experiences of patients being discharged from the two general hospitals in Northamptonshire - Kettering General Hospital (KGH) and Northampton General Hospital (NGH). We heard directly from patients about their experiences and views of the discharge process.
Over a three week period in November/December 2016 we spoke with 89 people in hospital on the day they were being discharged. Some were waiting to be discharged from the discharge lounge and others directly from one of the hospital wards. Nearly half of the patients we spoke to were aged 75 or older. We were able to speak to nine of these patients again to find out more about their post-hospital experiences. All the people who talked to us about their post-discharge period were generally happy with the support and advice they had received, however, some did not know what to expect, lacked information or felt under-supported.
In general, the patients we spoke with were very aware of how busy the local hospitals were and appreciative of the care and support received. However, the experiences of patients did highlight some areas for improvement or review.
Read the report to find out our suggestions and recommendations and read responses from the hospitals:
The experiences of children and young people of health services
Posted on 19/12/2017
The views and experience of children and young people can often be overlooked, with many engagement methods not always easy for a younger age group. Healthwatch Northamptonshire wanted to seek the views of children and young people directly in a different and engaging way.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2017 Healthwatch Northamptonshire attended various events held by partners across the county. This enabled us to gain views from a diverse range of children, some of which had special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or were in foster care.
In October 2017 Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire held a relaunch to spread the message about Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire, what we do and to encourage more people to join. We also wanted to discover the current key issues important to young people locally. We gained funding from the East Midlands Academic Health Services Network (Award for the Patient and Public Involvement Groups in the East Midlands) and Northampton Leisure Trust to put on the event and continue with Young Healthwatch.
The use of additional services at local pharmacies - Findings from our Make Your Voice Count survey
Posted on 15/11/2017
Between October 2016 and March 2017 Healthwatch Northamptonshire carried out its annual ‘Make Your Voice Count’ campaign. 169 of the people we spoke to completed a survey telling us about their own or a family member’s experiences of local services and their views on how things could be made better. As part of this, we asked people about their opinions and use of additional services at their local pharmacies, besides dispensing and disposal of medication and advice on treatment of minor conditions.
More than half of those we spoke to had not used any of the additional pharmacy services listed. The most used additional services by those that had were flu vaccination, home delivery and medicines review. Other additional services that people would welcome at their local pharmacy included advice on dealing with minor ailments, general wellbeing advice, such as weight and stress management, and also advice on specific conditions (such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes).
Access to health and social care services for Northamptonshire’s homeless and vulnerably housed population - The views of homeless people and professionals
Posted on 16/03/2017
In late 2016 Healthwatch Northamptonshire undertook a piece of work to find out more about the views and experiences of Northamptonshire’s homeless and vulnerably housed population, a seldom heard group. We were particularly interested in finding out about the barriers homeless people face when accessing and using local services. We spoke to five organisations working with homeless people across the county and 25 homeless people or people who had been recently homeless in Northampton, Rushden and Wellingborough.
We heard about some good support for homeless people in Northampton and other towns, particularly that provided by homeless charities, but the support available across the county appears to be variable. Access to GP practices was not a big problem although in some parts of the county people had to register at GP practices some distance away. We also learnt that homeless people often distrust GPs and health professionals, feeling they do not understand their lives and the issues they face, or that they do not need to register with these services if they are not ill or in pain. Rather than wanting better access to services such as GPs and dentists, the homeless people we spoke to prioritised their more immediate needs, such as having somewhere to sleep, dry feet and podiatry services, and access to good, hot food. We also learnt about alcohol use and how this can be a barrier to people accessing mental health services and other support. Many homeless people experience mental health issues and access to psychiatrists and Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs) was difficult for some, particularly outside of Northampton.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire recommends that healthcare and support for the homeless in Northamptonshire could be more coordinated through assertive outreach and support for charitable organisations and that mobile clinics held at the premises of homeless support organisation are an effective way of providing healthcare to this group.
Experiences of pregnancy, birth and onwards: The views of parents about services and support in Northamptonshire
Posted on 03/02/2017
In March 2016, Healthwatch Northamptonshire asked 77 parents with infants or young children their views on the help and support they received during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. The survey was designed to give a ‘snapshot’ of what parents thought of the available services, their overall experience during this period and their mental health and wellbeing. This work helps ensure the voices of parents are heard throughout the development and implementation of changes to services.
We found that whilst the majority of parents felt they had received good care and support during pregnancy, labour and after birth, there was variability in their experiences, a number of perceived gaps in services and points where they would have liked more support. The quality of care and supportiveness of healthcare professionals, particularly midwives, had the biggest impact on the experience of pregnancy and labour. The quality of information and advice was also important, and there was a desire for more information and advice about breastfeeding and other support available to families after birth. Many parents had greatly benefited from breastfeeding support cafés/groups, especially by having easy access to experts for technical and emotional support and a number were disappointed about the closure of these cafés/groups and the reduction in services provided at children’s centres.
Suggestions of what help or information should be available for parents during pregnancy and afterwards were for more information and advice, peer support and breastfeeding support as well as access to health visitors/midwives, mental health and wellbeing support and someone to ‘check in’ on how they were doing. Therefore, drop-in events and centres providing all this under one roof would meet most needs of parents after birth.
The views of Children and Young People in Northamptonshire about Eating Disorders
Posted on 05/10/2016
From January to April 2016, Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire (YHW) carried out a survey asking Children and Young People (CYP) aged 9 to 24 about their knowledge and awareness of eating disorders, if they had one themselves or knew someone who did, and if they knew where to go for help. This was to help inform the Northamptonshire Children and Young People’s Future in Mind Local Transformation Plan for Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health, which aims to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of Children and Young People (CYP) across the county. 2,017 CYP completed the survey. Over three quarters said they knew what an eating disorder was, especially girls, and Anorexia was the most well-known eating disorder. 136 respondents (7%) thought they had an eating disorder (boys and girls) and nearly one third said they knew someone with an eating disorder. Over half did not know where to go for help with an eating disorder, especially boys.
Eating Disorders and Body Image - Issues affecting LGBTQ Young People
Posted on 05/10/2016
Children and young people are increasingly under pressure to conform and as part of Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s recent Eating Disorder survey, which gathered the views of over 2,000 young people in Northamptonshire, we decided to hold a focus group session with young people who attend the OUT THERE LGBTQ youth group at The Lowdown. We were keen to find out if there were any particular body image issues for this group of young people and what information about eating disorders and body image they thought should be available for the young LGBTQ community. Healthwatch spoke to nearly 20 young people and gave them an opportunity to think about their own body image along with pressures and concerns they had. The session was interactive and information was provided in confidence.
Revolutionising Engagement and Involvement Workshop Report
Posted on 12/09/2016
In May 2016 Healthwatch and the Patient Congress jointly held a public engagement event focusing on ‘Revolutionising Engagement and Involvement’. Thank you to all who attended and engaged with energised and valuable contributions. The report from this event is now available and is feeding in to the Northamptonshire Sustainability and Transformation Planning through a work stream under the joint responsibility of Public Health Northamptonshire and Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire. The objective of the STP is to make a reality of working as an integrated system to better serve the health and care needs of the population of Northamptonshire.
Young Healthwatch Visit to Kettering General Hospital Report
Posted on 12/09/2016
In July 2016 two Young Healthwatch volunteers visited Skylark Ward (the children’s ward) at Kettering General Hospital (KGH) in order to give feedback to the hospital about this ward from the perspective of young people. This piece of work was suggested by the Young Healthwatch group and is the first time that young people have reported their observations of a general hospital children’s ward in Northamptonshire. Healthwatch Northamptonshire staff accompanied the young people on the visit and training was provided to prepare the volunteers but the report was written by the Young Healthwatch volunteers in their own words and expresses their own opinions and those of people they spoke to. The overall impression from the visit was positive and we hope that this work can be followed by similar visits to other wards, hospitals and children’s services.
Northampton General Hospital 24 hour survey in A&E
Posted on 30/08/2016
Northampton General Hospital (NGH) have witnessed increased pressure on their Accident and Emergency (A&E) department, with, on average, 17 more people attending A&E each day in 2015/16 compared to 2013/14. To gain a better understanding of why more patient are attending A&E and whether anything can be done to prevent inappropriate attendances, NGH, with the help of Healthwatch Northamptonshire, conducted a survey of ‘walk-in’ patients attending A&E over a 24 hour period in March 2016.
The results show that a large number of patients surveyed had attempted to, or managed to, speak to a healthcare professional prior to going to A&E. Of those who were advised to attend, a concerning number were identified as potentially being inappropriate attendees to the department, with conditions and concerns that could have been dealt with elsewhere. The comments made by patients indicated that some had experienced difficulties in getting to see a GP but it was not possible to tell whether patients were being sent to A&E to ease the pressure on GP surgeries or not. The report suggests that improving the education of patients, access to GP services, use of pharmacies and advice given by the national 111 service may reduce the number of patients attending A&E. These findings were shared with the NGH Trust Board and Clinical Commissioning Group.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire Understanding Mental Health Easy Read Guide
Posted on 16/08/2016
This information guide has been produced by Healthwatch Northamptonshire and is an introduction to mental health, possible problems and what help is available. It has been written for Children and Young People and their friends and family.
A report on the views of children and young people with SEND in Northamptonshire
Posted on 15/08/2016
Since September 2015, Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN) has engaged with CYP with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) using a variety of activity and methods. Through attending events by partner organisations and by delivering assemblies and Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) lessons in schools we spoke to 230 CYP with SEND, either face to face (74) or via their completion of a survey (156).
2015/16 has been a year of change and challenge for Healthwatch Northamptonshire. This report covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 and highlights our key achievements throughout the year. This year we have continued to make efficiencies and work smarter, and with the support, dedication and hard work of our volunteers and partners put service user engagement at the top of our list. As this report shows, we continued to consult and engage with as many people in Northamptonshire as possible.
Make Your Voice Count - Views and experiences of health and social care in Northamptonshire, specifically cancer, diabetes and dementia
Posted on 08/07/2016
Between October 2015 and January 2016 Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN) carried out our third annual ‘Make Your Voice Count’ campaign. 1,098 people completed a survey telling us about their own or a family member’s experiences of local services and their views on how things could be made better. Part of the survey was commissioned by Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (Nene CCG) to find out about local people’s experiences of diabetes, cancer and dementia services as well as what people thought would improve their experience of health and social care, would help support people with long term conditions, and would help people to be better informed.
Most people told us about good experiences of cancer, diabetes and dementia services, particularly when it came to engagement with staff, being kept informed and the coordination of services. We also heard some less positive experiences, mostly related to people feeling there was a lack of support or poor communication.
Improving the support offered to patients and carers and improving communication were the most common suggestions for improving the support of people with long term conditions, including providing more home care, more support for carers, more support groups and more or better information and education. Being able to get an appointment in a reasonable timeframe was the most common suggestion for improving the user experience of health and care services overall.
You can read the full report here (including a summary of the key findings). Additional findings about other services will be shared later in the year.