Vivienne Aird (pictured), former Chief Executive of Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Service (BCVS), has been appointed Chair of the Healthwatch Dorset local Steering Group.

Healthwatch Dorset finds out what local people think about local health and social care services – what’s working well and what could be improved.  These views are then shared with those in charge of health and social care in the county, to help shape local services for the better.  Healthwatch Dorset also provides information and advice to help people find the care and support they need; this is increasingly important as Coronavirus affects services across the county.

Vivienne has over forty years’ experience of working in the voluntary sector.  Before working for BCVS, she managed a pioneering project in Gloucestershire which advocated for the rights of carers, a community health development project in Bath, and a community centre in Milton Keynes.  She is a trustee of SEDCAT (South East Dorset Community Accessible Transport).

Throughout her career, Vivienne became increasingly aware of the need for health and care services to be more responsive to people’s needs.  This led her to Healthwatch Dorset and her new role as Chair of the Steering Group, as she explains: “I am committed to the ideal of a healthcare system which is holistic and preventative in its approach, tackling the root causes of ill health which are often socio-economic in origin.  In all the settings where I have worked, the need for more responsive health and social care became a key priority.  I believe passionately that services can be improved if they reflect and respond to the views and needs of the people who use them, and I am committed to achieving this locally through my work with Healthwatch Dorset.

“Healthwatch Dorset representatives are invited to some of the most important and influential decision-making meetings affecting health and social care provision across the county.  We will make sure that health commissioners and care providers hear and understand the views and experiences of the public, patients and carers when they are planning changes to local services.  As Chair I look forward to harnessing the considerable skills and experience of the local Steering Group to support the Healthwatch Dorset team to improve services locally.”

Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager, outlined how the local Steering Group supports their work: “There are nine members on the Healthwatch Dorset Steering Group, with a wide range of knowledge, experience and skills.  They are all volunteers who give up their time to help improve health and social care for local people.  They oversee and contribute to our work programme and monitor its delivery and impact.  Currently, they are helping us decide on our priorities for the year ahead, to ensure that our work focuses on the needs of local people, while reflecting national and local priorities in health and social care.  Vivienne’s experience and her passion for health and care services to be responsive to people’s needs will be a great asset to us.”

For more information about Healthwatch Dorset and the local Steering Group, and to find out how to get involved to help make health and social care better for you and your community, visit healthwatchdorset.co.uk or call 0300 111 0102