From concerned mums to passionate pensioners, thousands of ordinary people across the country are sharing their experiences to help hard pressed hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes find ways to improve.
More than 1,200 residents in West Sussex shared their stories this year to help diagnose where things aren’t working and let doctors, nurses and care workers know when they are getting it right.
The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand where improvements are needed.
That is why Healthwatch are running the #ItStartsWithYou campaign to encourage people to speak up and help to make services better for their communities.
Healthwatch West Sussex has been out encouraging people to share their views and helping local NHS and social care services gather insight into people’s experiences through listening events at services and community groups around the county.
Giving feedback is easy, but for those who want to go further Healthwatch West Sussex are on hand to help individuals work directly with local health and care bosses to come up with ideas together for how services should change and then put these plans into action.
For example, after years of stressful visits to the doctor with children with autism spectrum disorder, a group of parents and carers decided to call for change.
Parents and carers of autistic children have been training staff at GP surgeries in Crawley to make their practices more autism friendly.
Working with Healthwatch West Sussex and a local GP practice, the group encouraged more than 100 families to share their experiences and suggestions for improvements.
Based on what people told them, the group created a simple five-step plan that GPs could follow to make a real difference.
Five steps to improve the experience of visiting the GP for people with autism and their parents and carers:
• Rolling staff training for all staff including GPs to understand working with families and carers.
• Improvements to waiting areas and the waiting experience.
• Clear notes made on patients’ files to make staff aware the patient has autism.
• A programme to support carers, including regular checks and flu jabs.
• Better education for patients and staff on how to be referred to mental health services for young people, the local child development centre and London hospitals
The project has gained significant local support, and more than seven GP practices are using it already to make positive changes to the way they work with people with autism. These dedicated volunteers continue to give up their time to help train GPs in the area at no cost, to help make going to the doctor a better experience for other families.
Share your local health and social care experiences – good and bad – and find out more about Healthwatch West Sussex at www.healthwatchwestsussex.co.uk, 0300 012 0122 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
#ItStartsWithYou – your voice can make a difference.
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