The award is in recognition of our work to make it easier for people with additional communication needs to attend a hospital appointment.
We have visited every main hospital in Kent over the past year to see for ourselves 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 have investigated what support is available for patients who have learning difficulties, are partially sighted or have dementia.
As a result, a number of improvements have been made including:
- Staff at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells Hospital have been trained so that they can offer the right support for patients
- Hearing loops are now working at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells and staff know how to use them
- Appointment letters have been changed to make them easier for people who may find them hard to understand
- A new system to provide patients with a British Sign Language interpreter is being developed at East Kent Hospitals
- The signs have been changed to help people find their way around hospital
- An email address is now available for Deaf patients at East Kent Hospitals so they have a way of getting in touch
Every year, the Healthwatch Network Awards celebrate the many positive stories of how the local Healthwatch network is helping to make care better for thousands of people. The awards are an opportunity to demonstrate where local Healthwatch worked within the local community to make sure health and social care services meet people's needs.
Healthwatch listen to what people like about the NHS and social care and what needs to be improved. Their views are shared with health and care professionals, so that services can understand what people and their families want from care.
These awards recognise how people’s feedback is vital to improving services. Thanks to the many hundreds of thousands of people who shared their experiences with Healthwatch last year. This has led to positive changes to the way local health and care services are run.
The local Healthwatch shortlisted for 2019 Healthwatch Network Awards were picked from almost 150 award entries.
The winner and the highly commended from each category were chosen by a panel of external judges and announced last night at the Healthwatch England Annual Conference on 1 October 2019.
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 at a national level. 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."
Imelda Redmond, CBE, National Director of Healthwatch England said,
The Healthwatch Network Awards is a fantastic event which showcases the very best of local Healthwatch and it’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate the impact our teams and volunteers have in improving health and care across the country.
The awards demonstrate the breadth of issues local Healthwatch work on every year. Their work makes sure people’s experiences are placed at the heart of the services they receive. I’d like to acknowledge and thank all the network and congratulate those who took part, they have done their communities proud.