In addition to our annual priority projects, we get involved in a range of other projects that arise during the year. This can be in response to current and emerging developments in health and social care, by getting involved with projects to support our local partners, or because we are monitoring the progress health and social care providers make to act on our previous recommendations for change.
Covid-19 vaccination programme
In response to Covid-19, the NHS launched one of the largest ever public vaccination programmes. We are asking local people to share their views and experiences about the vaccination programme. We will share our findings with Dorset’s health and care providers to help them understand how to maximise the effectiveness of vaccine delivery across the county.
Review of community mental health services
Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group launched their ‘Mental Health Integrated Community Care Project’ in summer 2020, to involve local people in shaping the future of community mental health services in Dorset. We wanted to hear from people who don’t always have a strong voice, to give them the opportunity to make a real difference to the way mental health services in our community are set up and delivered.
In November 2020, we talked to people with a range of mental health support needs, including people who are experiencing homelessness and those with drug and alcohol addictions, as well as voluntary sector workers who support them. Our report, which was published in December 2020 and shared with the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, makes several recommendations for change and improvement.
Completed December 2020. Read more:
Care during Covid-19
The coronavirus pandemic required health and social care services to adapt at great speed to care for people with the virus, while trying to reduce infections and maintain care for many of our most sick and vulnerable people. Many treatments and services were put on hold, while others introduced new ways of delivering care. Public feedback has and will help NHS and social care services understand how to respond effectively to Covid-19 to provide the care and support people need.
Between April and September 2020, we ran a public feedback project to find out how the pandemic was affecting people’s experiences of care locally. Throughout the project, we shared real-time feedback with local health and care providers to help them respond quickly. Our final report, published in November 2020, provides analysis over the first sixth months on the pandemic; it identifies the challenges and achievements of a health and social care sector turned upside down. This work will inform developments in local health and social care, and it will also feed into national research carried out by Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.
Completed November 2020. Related links:
- Dorset health and social care during COVID-19: What local people told us (Report, November 2020)
- The Dr will zoom you now: research to improve virtual health care (September 2020)
- What is it like to live and work in a care home during COVID-19? (Report, July 2020)
Mental Health – it’s OK to talk
In October 2020, in response to feedback about local mental health services, we released a new film Mental Health – It’s OK to talk. This impactful film, produced with the support of Healthwatch Dorset volunteers, a local film company and students, features local people sharing their mental health stories – their circumstances, challenges, and their coping strategies. The main message in the film, linked to World Mental Health Day, is that people’s mental health can be affected at any time, by a wide range of circumstances, and talking is a great way to start and support recovery.
Completed October 2020. Related links:
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Our ‘Your Mind, Your Say’ project built on our previous and ongoing engagement work with seldom heard and marginalised young people. We developed relationships and gathered feedback from children and young people excluded from school, young asylum seekers, young people who are settled travellers or homeless, and young offenders. Our project report will inform the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s review of CAMHS and it has guided the development of our new ‘Young Listeners’ project.
Completed August 2020. Read more:
- Your Mind, Your Say: Young People’s views of mental health services in Dorset (Report, August 2020)
Our volunteers helped eight Dorset hospitals with their annual NHS Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE), reporting on their strengths and areas for improvement. They were guided by our staff to use the national NHS assessment framework to look at non-clinical elements of hospital care which affect patient experience, including cleanliness, food, privacy, condition of hospitals, and how well the needs of patients with dementia and disabilities are met. The results, published by the NHS in March 2020, showed that all hospitals rated very highly for overall cleanliness, while other areas need some improvement.
Completed March 2020. Read more:
A&E services at Poole Hospital
We investigated people’s experiences of using Poole Hospital A&E, as part of a national project to inform the NHS review of A&E performance measures. Our report, published in February 2020, includes recommendations for how Poole Hospital A&E could improve patient experience.
Completed February 2020. Read more:
Improving cancer support in West Dorset
Macmillan Cancer Support and the Wessex Cancer Alliance want to provide earlier cancer support for people in the community. Working in partnership with Wessex Voices and Healthwatch Southampton, we gathered community insight to inform the development of two new pilot projects called Right by You, for West Dorset and Southampton. During January to February 2020, we spoke to cancer patients, carers, and family members. They told us:
- People are grateful to the NHS for their medical treatment.
- Those affected by cancer would like more support with emotions, medical treatment, finances and transport.
- There is less support available for some groups, including younger patients, carers, and family members.
- People are seeking different support options in their local communities.
- Almost 40% of those who completed our online survey and 60% of those we interviewed, had not talked about their support needs with an NHS professional.
Raising awareness with real-life stories
Sharing people’s stories is a great way to build understanding and influence change. We worked with Bournemouth University to create a series of films about real people’s experiences of the health and social care system, including homelessness, end-of-life care and living with long-term health conditions. The films were shared with health and social care students and promoted in the wider community.
Matt’s story was nominated for a national Charity Film Award. It provides a powerful insight into how unexpected life events can create a pathway into homelessness, substance misuse and poor health, which can prove difficult to move beyond. Matt also tells how local charity Hope Housing helped him find stability and new direction.
Completed October 2019. Related links:
The number of people diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years. There are now almost 3.7 million people living with diabetes in the UK. Approximately 15% of those are living with type 1 diabetes. (Source: Diabetes UK)
We talked to young people about their experiences of living with type 1 diabetes. We helped them raise awareness of the condition and to reach out to other young people in Dorset who are living with diabetes. We worked with six schools and the Dorset Diabetes Nurse Team, and talked to hundreds of young people across the county. With our support, they ran assemblies during Diabetes Week, created a blog, and produced two short films that were shown in schools and promoted on social media during World Diabetes Day. The blog and videos have been seen by thousands of people and shared with health commissioners and providers.
14-year old Rosey’s blog raised awareness of what it’s like to live with type 1 diabetes. She won the Young Person’s Outstanding Contribution at the Diabetes UK Inspire awards for campaigning to get glucose sensors available on prescription.
Completed November 2019. Read more:
NHS Long Term Plan
The NHS published a Long Term Plan in January 2019, setting out all the things it wants health services to do better for people across the country. We asked local people about the changes they would like to see to improve the NHS in Dorset.
Completed 2019. Read more:
April 2021 – March 2022
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