Healthwatch is the new independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. It exists in two distinct forms – local Healthwatch (for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole it is Healthwatch Dorset) and Healthwatch England, at a national level. The aim of local Healthwatch is to give citizens and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how health and social care services are provided within their locality
Healthwatch gives people a powerful voice locally and nationally. At a local level, Healthwatch works to help local people get the best out of their health and social care services. Whether this is by improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow. Local Healthwatch is all about local voices being able to influence the delivery and design of their services: not just people who use them, but anyone who might need to do so in future as well.
Healthwatch Dorset is a Community Interest Company established by a partnership of three well-established local organisations - Help & Care, Citizens' Advice in Dorset and Dorset Race Equality Council.
To find out more information about Healthwatch Dorset visit: www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk
Last year Healthwatch Dorset publicised some new national health & care complaints guides, written by Healthwatch England & Citizens Advice. Some of their followers on social media asked if the guides were available in an easy read version, a format that presents text in an accessible, easy to understand way for people who have a learning disability. Healthwatch England & Citizen Advice had no plans to produce an easy read guide, so Healthwatch Dorset decided to make it happen themselves.
Please see more information here
Healthwatch Dorset's community project: Mental Health awareness Among Black and Minority Ethnic Communities
The project was a series of interviews with people from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds, gathering feedback on their views and experiences of mental health services.
Jessica Akeb Dip. PCT (Person Centred Therapy), a CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) counsellor carried out some community engagement work, gathering views from BME communities about their experiences of using mental health services. This project explored perceptions and misconceptions about mental health in general, to find out what are the factors preventing people from BME communities accessing mental health and/or counselling services.
Jessica interviewed 32 people for the study. Participants filled in a questionnaire with multiple answers and had a chance to discuss definitions of mental illness while completing the form. All participants lived in Bournemouth or Poole and were from different African countries and identified their ethnicity as African, Black British, Caribbean or from a Mixed/Dual Heritage.
Jessica’s research discovered that people often don’t feel they have service providers they can relate to in culture, experience or colour. Language barriers can sometimes make it difficult for patients to talk honestly and openly about their problems, especially if they are relying on a family member (for example a spouse or a child) or someone to interpret for them. Many of the people who took part in the study also weren’t aware of local charities and support groups that provide free help.
“Services are available but I don’t have the confidence to approach them, not knowing the confidentiality, talking to someone I can’t relate to worries me that I will be misunderstood.”
“Coming from a black ethnic background I kind of felt I could manage on my own because most people from my social group who are black as well were able to manage so it is my belief that if I got help I might come across as a failure. There is a need to decrease the high levels of ignorance people have from these groups”.
TO READ FULL REPORT CLICK HERE.
We are creating a network of Healthwatch Champions right across Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth. Champions have two main roles:
1) To promote Healthwatch in their local communities, so that people know what it is, what it can do and how they can get in touch with it. Getting across the message - Your Voice Counts: You Can Make A Difference.
2) To be Healthwatch's eyes and ears on the ground in local communities, feeding back to us what people's experiences (good and bad) of services are or encouraging people themselves to tell us.
Healthwatch Champions can contribute in other ways too:
- Helping to man our information and promotional stands at community events and "road shows"
- Serving on Task Groups set up to look into gaps or "hot topics" in service provision
- Becoming Enter and View Authorised Representatives. (Enter and View is a power given to Healthwatch by law. It gives us the power to Enter premises where publicly-funded health or care services are delivered, and View the care being delivered.) People wishing to become part of the Enter and View team will undergo a selection process and training programme.
If you're interested in being a volunteer for Healthwatch Dorset, please get in touch. Send a message by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 111 0102 Chris Wakefield our Volunteers Officer.