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.

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