They have been praised by Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Kettering General Hospital for their dedication to patient care and for the many improvements for patients their visits have resulted in.
Sheila and Wendy have both volunteered for Healthwatch since it was set up in 2013 and were involved in local patient experience groups and forums for over a decade before.
“Thanks to the dedication of Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s volunteers, many improvements have been made at Kettering General Hospital, such as the introduction of a priority seating area in A&E, improvements to health and safety and patient dignity and a place for patients to give immediate feedback about their care.
“As part of their work, the volunteers also developed their own ‘15 steps’ programme for conducting these types of visits, which is now used to train other Healthwatch volunteers.
“This was a fantastic piece of work which highlights how crucial our wonderful volunteers are to Healthwatch and I would like to thank Sheila and Wendy for their dedication to making local patients’ experiences of hospital care better.”
- Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England
Healthwatch Northamptonshire was one of only three local Healthwatch branches to win an award out of 152 across England during a virtual event celebrating the difference Healthwatch’s 4,400 staff and volunteers have made over the past year.
Wendy and Sheila visits involve speaking to staff, patients and visitors and they make sure everyone’s views are heard - including those who are visually impaired or for whom English is not their first language.
As a result of their work, the hospital develops action plans to address the issues raised and the volunteers then revisited the hospital to check these actions have been taken.
“Although we have a formal structure for our visits, I think it is also important to look at healthcare from the patients’ point of view. When we speak to patients directly, we often find they tell us about concerns they are reluctant to share with staff. By suggesting that they do share these concerns the situation can often be improved in a quick and friendly manner.
“I really enjoy this work and love to see how our interactions end up making a difference.”
“We use an innovative 15 step challenge system to carry out our visits which is a structured way of making these kinds of walk-around visits very effective.
“We have been very pleased with the results and we are both delighted that our work has been recognised by Healthwatch at a national level.”
Read the summary report of their 2019-20 visits
Wendy and Sheila visited wards and departments at Kettering General Hospital 43 times between April 2019 to March 2020 to provide the hospital with feedback using the 15 Steps Challenge tool. Their findings have been summarised into a report.