We have visited every main hospital in Kent over the past year in partnership with patients who have additional communication needs to see for themselves how difficult it can be for patients to attend routine appointments. Together with East Kent Mencap, Kent Association for the Blind and Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services, we investigated what support is available for patients who have learning difficulties, are partially sighted or have dementia.
Since the visits, and subsequent recommendations, a number of improvements have been made including:
- Staff at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells Hospitals have been trained in how to support patients who may need additional support to attend appointments
- An audit of hearing loops has been completed in Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells Hospital and training given to staff on how to use them
- Changes to how people’s communications needs are recorded, how appointment letters are written, and the inclusion of information about how to get information in alternative formats
- The development of a new system to provide patients with a British Sign Language interpreter in East Kent Hospitals
- Better signage to help people find their way around hospital
- An email address for Deaf patients at East Kent Hospitals so they have a way of getting in touch
Every year, the awards celebrate positive stories of how local Healthwatch are helping to make care better for thousands of people. The Healthwatch Network Awards are an opportunity to demonstrate where local Healthwatch have gone above and beyond, to make sure health and social care services meet everybody's needs.
Healthwatch across the country listen to what people like about the NHS and social care and what could be changed. We then share these views with professionals, so that services can understand what people and their families want from care.
These awards recognise the importance of how people’s feedback is vital. Thanks to the 406,000 people who shared their experiences with Healthwatches all over the country last year, positive changes have been made to how local health and care services are run.
Our entry was shortlisted for the 2019 Healthwatch Network Awards from almost 150 award entries.
The winner from each category will be chosen by a panel of external judges and announced at the Healthwatch England Annual Conference on 1 October 2019.
Outstanding individuals who've made a difference
Giving people the advice and information they need
Improving health and social care
Helping more people to have their say
Championing diversity and inclusion
Healthwatch Kent's Steve Inett said,
“We work hard every day to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard by decision makers and we’re delighted that our efforts have been recognised by Healthwatch England. We’re continuing to raise awareness and understanding of how hard it can be for people with additional communication needs to attend an appointment be it at a hospital, GP or social care service. We’ve just completed a visit to Tunbridge Wells Hospital to understand what support is available for patients who use communication aids. Our report and recommendations will be published shortly but in the meantime we would encourage people to continue to tell us their stories.”
Jacob Lant, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Healthwatch said,
“The Healthwatch Network Awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the difference local Healthwatch have made across the country.
“This year we received some outstanding entries from the network, which has made the shortlisting even more challenging. We have been very impressed by the quality and incredible range of work on show.
“These entries highlight the real impact we can have when people come forward and tell us about their experiences. Healthwatch can only make a difference when people speak up and help services understand what is working and what is not.”