Supporting deaf people to have a voice

Deaf people have been telling Healthwatch Dudley about the challenges they face when communicating with health professionals and we responded by bringing together a group of people to talk about these experiences in more detail.

During the last year we have worked with Dudley Council Deaf Support Service to host bi-monthly meetings with people from the deaf community. These meetings allow local people who are profoundly deaf, to share their views about health and wellbeing and some of the problems they face when accessing services. We have invited representatives from Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, who have been listening and responding to a wide range of issues that have been raised with the support of British Sign Language interpreters.

A common issue with group members was anxiety about missing their turn whilst waiting for appointments if they cannot hear their names being called and they are not otherwise alerted. During a group discussion, it was suggested that this could be avoided with the use of vibrating and flashing pagers, which could be given to hearing impaired patients on arrival.

The hospital team listened and vibrating pagers have now been introduced to outpatients and other waiting areas across the Trust.

We shared this positive feedback with the Dudley Patient Opportunity Panel which is made up of local patient participation groups in Dudley borough. Members there are keen to support the same initiative within GP surgeries.

Group members have also been involved with reviewing posters for display within the Trust and as a result of our meetings, the Trust is also exploring how more formal deaf awareness training can be delivered to their staff, to complement their existing awareness sessions.

Members of the Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group staff team have also been invited to help the group to understand more about what they do. The group hopes that this will provide them with even more opportunities to influence change.


“Healthwatch Dudley has continued to provide valuable insight to The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and form an extra dimension to the many different ways we like to hear from our patients about the services we provide. We have further developed the relationship we have with Healthwatch through the work of our Patient Experience Group alongside other external partners. We are particularly proud of the joint work we have undertaken with the Dudley Deaf Focus Group to help make improvements for people with a hearing impairment, including the introduction of pagers so people know when it is their appointment time and more awareness raised with staff. I very much look forward to fostering the relationship we have established and developing it further in the future.”

Diane Wake, Chief Executive The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust

Listening to people’s experience to influence health and social care services

The People’s Network first came together in 2015 when Healthwatch Dudley invited a small group of people to review the Dudley Council adult social care annual report for clarity. The group felt their experience was too narrow and discussed how a new network could be brought together to discuss different issues around health and care. The group decided that events should be informative, positive and powerful with real opportunities to share their experiences with people who make decisions about local services. During the last year, Healthwatch Dudley has hosted six themed People’s Network events, involving around 400 local residents and people who provide services. Here are the People’s Networks events we hosted last year.

May – a marketplace event with lots of stalls and information about health and care.

July – What does dignity mean to you?
Dignity can mean different things to different people. It can be about respect, privacy, self-worth and being treated as an individual. It can be hard to explain what dignity is, however you will probably know when you haven’t been treated properly. We invited people who attend or provide services at local day centres and care agencies, to share what dignity means to them. Everyone took part in group discussions and shared personal experiences and views. Following the event, we helped Queens Cross Network, Disability in Action, Dudley Centre for Inclusive Living and Dudley Council to create a survey. We also supported an event to capture people’s views and experiences of dignity, which will feed into a new Dignity Charter for Dudley borough.

August People’s Network Special about new models of care
A Multi-speciality Community Provider (MCP) is one of the models suggested by the NHS to develop local services. Dudley was selected as one of the first areas to introduce this approach and Dudley CCG is in the process of identifying a new organisation to deliver health and care to the people of Dudley. Dudley CCG carried out a formal public consultation in July 2016 to introduce what an MCP for Dudley could look like. We organised a People’s Network Special attended by 60 participants who questioned the proposals to ensure the re-design of the local systems work for local people.

September & March – Creating a health and wellbeing plan for Dudley borough
Home life, family and our experiences all have a big impact on our health and wellbeing – but what does this mean for people who plan health and care services? Every three years, local decision makers make a plan to ensure that the right services are in place to meet the needs of our local communities. Dudley Health and Wellbeing Board asked the People’s Network to help them identify and set priorities for the future. People discussed:

  • The things that keep us and the people we care for healthy and well
  • What services they really valued and what is good about them
  • Any gaps they have experienced in local health or care and what services they would like to be able to access in the future

The conversations that took place helped to steer a Health and Wellbeing Board development session and will help to shape the new plan.

November – Looking after ourselves together
To celebrate Self Care Week our November event shone another spotlight on local health and wellbeing services. The network was invited to find out about local services that keep us healthy and well, meet some of the people who deliver them and share experiences of accessing health and care services in Dudley borough. People with real experience of managing health conditions shared their experiences and information was shared in a marketplace about local services that can help us to take care of ourselves and each other. A further spotlight event involved people sharing first-hand how they are managing health conditions including diabetes and stroke and mental illness with the support of local organisations and groups.

A collaborative approach to championing carers and their rights

Dudley CVS’s Carer Coordinator is a partner of the newly formed Dudley Carers Alliance, a partnership of statutory and voluntary organisations as well as individual carers, which works together to develop and progress Dudley Carers Strategy. Dudley Carers Alliance meets to encourage local people who provide unpaid care to their friends and loved ones to participate in local decision making.

Dudley Carers Alliance’s theme for 2016 was around encouraging employers to become carer friendly. The Alliance also promoted the pledge during Carers Rights Day on 25 November, a day that brings together organisations across the UK to help carers caring for family members or friends know their rights and find out how they can get help and support. On the day, Dudley CVS Carer Coordinator organised a ‘Raising Awareness Afternoon Tea’ for outpatients at Russells Hall Hospital, accompanied by Healthwatch Dudley staff and volunteers.

The afternoon tea event was organised to communicate with staff, outpatients and visitors about caring for family members and to inform them of the support that was available in Dudley, as well as promote The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Dudley CVS Carer Friendly Employer Pledge. Andrew McMenemy, HR Director from The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, joined the ‘Raising Awareness Afternoon Tea’ to discuss the issues faced by family carers who often struggle to maintain employment and the importance of ensuring that they felt valued by their employer. Dudley Carers Alliance launched the Dudley Carer Friendly Employer Pledge to encourage local employers to become Carer friendly workplaces and support carers balancing work with caring responsibilities.

In the build up to Carers Rights Day, Dudley CVS, Dudley MBC, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Sainsbury’s Amblecote all signed the pledge and continue to spread the word about the initiative. Our Carer Coordinator and Older Peoples nursing staff also raised awareness about the Carer Passport, introduced by the hospital earlier in 2016. This followed the hospital’s commitment to John’s Campaign, a national Campaign highlighting the value of carers in a hospital setting to support the needs of the those they care for by offering flexibility over visiting time. The Carers Passport is available to any main carer of someone with a long-term condition who is an inpatient at the hospital and they can ask for one from nursing staff.

Collectively strengthening the work and value of organisations that support vulnerable children and young people

In 2015 it was mooted that services for vulnerable young people aged 16–24 were about to be retendered. This meant that the 8 groups that individually held contracts with the local authority might not be chosen to deliver work in the future.

Dudley CVS was commissioned to undertake a review of existing services by those who use them and some young people who didn’t. We drafted a 15 week programme that involved young people in observations, mystery shopping, filming, interviewing etc. At the end of the 15 weeks the group shared their findings and recommendations with senior leaders and wider stakeholders.

Using this information, we worked with 8 organisations that individually held contracts with the local authority to form an Alliance in preparation for their individual contracts to be put out to tender. Through the Alliance, each organisation’s work was strengthened by:

  • Sharing data and intelligence
  • Maximising the support available to vulnerable children and young people
  • Not duplicating work, but making a collective offer of support

Through this process they developed a person centred pathway, collective menu of services and support and agreed an alliance approach to capturing and sharing data using PSIAMS.

The Alliance recently (April 2017) met with the new head of commissioning at Dudley Council, who was impressed with the presentation that the Alliance delivered. The head of commissioning reported that this approach was innovation at its best and working in a way that Dudley Council is hoping to work towards.

Dudley Council’s head of commissioning has committed to engaging regularly with the Alliance over the coming months with a view to agreeing a negotiated contract.


“Without Dudley CVS help, the Alliance would not have been formed. It has facilitated partnership working in Dudley”

Dudley Alliance members.

Working together to bring in hard-to-access funding

Since 2014, Dudley CVS has been involved in work to bring hard-to-access funding, such as the joint EU / Big Lottery Fund programme Building Better Opportunities (BBO).

In 2014, Dudley CVS jointly set up Black Country Together CIC with the three other Black Country CVS in order to maximise opportunities for the sector, including bidding for work and funding to passport to frontline voluntary sector organisations that we know deliver great work.

In 2015-16, Dudley CVS brought 99 people from voluntary sector together to learn more about the BBO programme. BBO funding was available through four strands:

  • Employment support for over 24s
  • Targeted communities
  • Families in Poverty
  • Financial and Digital Inclusion

Each strand was to be administered by a lead organisation and Black Country Together CIC successfully applied to lead the Families in Poverty strand worth £3.4million.

Last year, we continued to support groups to access this funding by bringing together Dudley’s groups and identifying those that could deliver work under each strand, inviting them to attend a series of workshops to learn more. Phase Trust and Lunch on the Run were identified as two possible local partners and they requested Dudley CVS support on the initial expressions of interest and then the final project plan applications.

Our Funding Officer discussed the initial expression of interest face to face with each group and reviewed them before they were submitted. Both groups were invited to the second stage of the application, which was a project plan. Dudley CVS supported each group to put these plans together through a series of one-to-one meetings and email support to ensure that applications were as strong as possible when they were submitted.

Both organisations were successful with their applications. Phase Trust received £100,401 and Lunch on the run received £75,082 for work commencing Autumn 2016 and finishing by December 2019.

Both organisations are now able to support young people (Phase Trust) and people with learning disabilities (Lunch on the Run) through activities that positively address their issues around loneliness and poverty and that bring out their skills. Their work promotes people’s independence and improves their quality of life. Bearing in mind it’s still early days in the programme both organisations are now delivering these additional services (on top of what they usually do) resulting in their beneficiaries moving forward in their lives both individually as well as within their families.


Sally from Lunch on the Run said that she liked our “Professional guidance and better understanding to produce a successful application” in connection with her success in receiving funding through BBO. She went on to describe our support as friendly, supportive, professional and knowledgeable.