Impetus response to the Healthwatch consultationPosted on 27th September 2012 by Impetus
Brighton & Hove Impetus is an independent charity providing health and social care support services to vulnerable or disadvantaged people within Brighton & Hove through mentoring and befriending; advocacy; social groups; training; information, advice and guidance. Most of our work is provided through volunteers. We also house the Volunteer Centre and provide capacity building support to the voluntary and community sector through our Performance Development Service.
We are responding to this consultation based on our work delivering health and social care support services and on our work with other frontline organisations.
Our key points about Healthwatch are:
- Healthwatch Brighton & Hove needs to be politically independent and financially accountable to its stakeholders. We feel it should be much higher profile – make Healthwatch as visible and as effective as Crimewatch!
- While previous experience of working or volunteering in this kind of body is very important, we would like to see a genuinely new organisation deliver Healthwatch services. Involving a wider or different set of people will bring a fresh approach to supporting community involvement in health, and improve accountability to all our communities.
- To achieve this, we would recommend there are more resources to support more vulnerable people and ‘hard to reach’ communities to engage with Healthwatch at a governance level and that Healthwatch should make listening to individuals and specialist voluntary and community organisations a priority.
- The public need to see that Healthwatch can and will do something about improving health and social care. To this end, the voice of Healthwatch must carry clout and be respected by public health bodies and Local Authority. There will need to be a public and genuine commitment from the Local Authority and local NHS structures to not just working with, but acting on Healthwatch recommendations.
- The organisation will need to be sufficiently resourced to fund 1:1 support and advocacy for most vulnerable. We would like to see the majority of funding go on frontline work and recommend that advocacy support should be provided by organisations already specialised in their field.
- Healthwatch will be likely to rely extensively on volunteers for work within communities, so it needs to invest in best practice in recruitment, training and on-going support for volunteers in a range of roles from advocacy to health training to advice provision.
- There are many schemes within our communities that are already providing intelligence on community and individual experiences of health services, and advocating for better treatment for their service users. There should be more resources for work such as Pensioner Action – which represents the views of older people in the city to the Health Services, and the Lay Assessor’s Scheme – which interviews older people in receipt of Home Care about their satisfaction with their care. Enabling the voices of the most vulnerable, isolated or disadvantaged in our society should be a priority, but Healthwatch does not need to reinvent the wheel.
- An example of the kind of issue that has not been thoroughly addressed to date and where the individuals involved are likely to be particularly unlikely to raise issues are the known gaps in service user feedback for older people. In improving this, the new organisation will need to include users of Nevill Hospital (OPMH), homecare clients, care home residents and users of voluntary services. An effective way of doing this will be through supporting and extending existing work within the voluntary and community sector.
- Information, Advice and Guidance materials should be inclusive and widely distributed in a range of formats. Digital exclusion is a real issue, and the march online, which liberating and enabling for many, is a real barrier for others.
Impetus is happy to discuss any of these aspects in more detail.
27 September 2012