This report covers a period which has been extremely challenging for health and social care services in our county and especially so for Healthwatch Northamptonshire. We aimed to retain our primary focus on the experience and wishes of those who use health and social care services in the county and to ensure that these are presented to decision-makers and others who influence the shape of local services.
We hope that this report will demonstrate that we have been true to that statutory role and the core values of Healthwatch.
Fifteen Steps for Maternity at Northampton General Hospital
Posted on 03/06/2019
Together with Northamptonshire Maternity Voices Partnership, we carried out a 15 Steps Maternity Visit across both hospital trusts in Northamptonshire – Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital. This is the report for Northampton General Hospital.
The visit team found the staff were friendly and approachable, they were enthusiastic about how the service was developing and positive interactions were witnessed between staff and patients. The team were positive about The Barratt Birth Centre and how it allows women the choice of where to give birth. However, they thought pictures and posters needed to promote more diversity in ethnicity and family types and display information on what the various staff uniforms mean.
Fifteen Steps for Maternity at Kettering General Hospital
Posted on 03/06/2019
Together with Northamptonshire Maternity Voices Partnership, we carried out a 15 Steps Maternity Visit across both hospital trusts in Northamptonshire – Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital. This is the report for Kettering General Hospital.
The visit team found that staff were friendly, positive and were able to explain how their aspirations are in line with national guidelines (Better Births). Posters were eye-catching, easy to read and in the relevant places with nice pictures and decals on walls. However, posters and pictures needed to reflect more diversity in ethnicity and different family forms and the number of different roles and uniforms was confusing, complicated and inconsistent, with posters not clearly showing the distinction in uniforms.
Independent Review of Health and Wellbeing Fora in Northamptonshire
Posted on 21/05/2019
The Northamptonshire Health and Wellbeing Fora enable engagement with a broad range of public sector and voluntary organisations in seven districts and boroughs in the county. Healthwatch Northamptonshire was asked to conduct a quick independent review of the Health and Wellbeing Fora.
A snapshot of Carers’ views on the impact of Northamptonshire County Council cuts
Posted on 20/05/2019
During the autumn of 2018, Carers’ Voice and Healthwatch Northamptonshire undertook a small piece of work to identify the impact of recent cuts to Adult Social Care by Northamptonshire County Council on carers and those they care for. 33 people responded to a survey. As a result of the cuts, changes/reduction in services were reported frequently for Health and Care in the Community. The results of this snapshot survey are useful in highlighting the negative impact cuts can have on health and social care services.
Enter and View Report - K Lodge, Higham Ferrers January 2019
Posted on 14/05/2019
Healthwatch Northamptonshire is carrying out a series of visits to NHS and Social Care funded accommodation in Northamptonshire to ascertain the quality of life, experience and opinions of residents, with a particular focus on activities, nutrition, hydration and access to dental health. K Lodge was selected as one of the homes to visit as they provide care to residents with a range of different needs.
Enter and View Report - Brockfield House, Stanwick, Wellingborough March 2019
Posted on 14/05/2019
Healthwatch Northamptonshire is carrying out a series of visits to NHS and Social Care funded accommodation in Northamptonshire to ascertain the quality of life, experience and opinions of residents, with a particular focus on activities, nutrition, hydration and access to dental health. Brockfield House was selected as one of the homes to visit.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire activity on sensory impairment in 2018
Posted on 19/02/2019
Healthwatch Northamptonshire identified sensory impairment as one of its priorities for work in the year April 2018 to March 2019. This short report provides a summary of our activity on sensory impairment issues during 2018.
Young people’s views and experiences of emotional wellbeing support in Northamptonshire
Posted on 29/11/2018
In the spring and summer of 2018, Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire gathered the views and experiences from young people across the county on mental health and wellbeing services. They successfully achieved 749 responses from young people between the ages of 11-19 years old. The young people that responded valued knowing where to go to get support for their emotional wellbeing. They also identified that support at school and a self-help service were the things that would be most useful for them.
The final report and recommendations will help improve service provision for young people accessing mental health and wellbeing services in Northamptonshire.
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.
Chair of Young Healthwatch Northamptonshire, Tanzi, said: "It has been amazing to work with Kettering General Hospital, every time we visit we see more of the recommendations we have made become reality. It is fantastic that the views of young people are taken on board and acted upon".
Kettering General Hospital’s Head of Patient Experience and Involvement James Allan said: "The perspective that Young Healthwatch brought was refreshing. We learned a lot from their visit and will be using the new perspective they gave us – looking at things through the eyes of young person – in other pieces of work in the future. We plan to continue to work with Young Healthwatch and visit local schools to capture more of the experience of children when they visit hospital – either to be treated or with relatives".
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 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.