What are the top five areas we will prioritise for health and social care?
The work of Healthwatch Kingston is shaped by the concerns that local people raise with us. Our task groups, community engagement activities and visits to local services has helped us identify five areas for health and social care.
These areas will be developed into a number of priorities, which will shape our work over the next 12 months.
1. Mental health services
Access to and the quality of mental health services has been a number one priority since 2013. Our mental health task group continues to investigate how well services are performing through visits to Tolworth Hospital, meetings with commissioners and providers and, most importantly, talking with people who have lived experience of mental health. On the whole mental health services work well in Kingston although issues about levels of funding and how this is spent needs to be explored. Consequently the opportunity to work with the community to help them co-produce a new mental health strategy will be the main focus for the next 12 months. Alongside the develoment of the strategy we will be working with young people to help them have their say about mental health services.
2. Primary care services
Although mental health is our number one priority, it is closely followed by last year’s top issue which was primary care, in particular access to GPs. Our community care task group has visited a number of GP practices over the past year and indentified issues related to accessibility, appointments, continuity of care and patient choice. Our volunteers are currently helping the Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) set up a Patient Forum as part of the development of a new primary care strategy as well as involvement in the development of a new primary care service in Surbiton.
3. Social care services
Like mental health, social care services have been an area of interest since 2013, particularly the quality of home care services and support for carers. A key priority for 2016 will be the setting up of a dedicated home care project group to give this complex issue the attention it requires. We will also continue to work with Kingston Carers Network to ensure the voice of the carer is heard across all service provision.
4. Services working better together
The Kingston Co-ordinated Care Programme continues to remain a priority due to the need to ensure that this new way of integrated working delivers a seamless service, better use of resources, a needs led response and person-centred treatment and support. Our trustees and volunteers will continue to monitor developments through attendance at the Health & Wellbeing Board, Health Overview Panel and involvement with implementation processses. Another area where a more integrated approach would produce better outcomes for people concerns rough sleeping. A key priority for the next twelve months will involve working with local agencies to determine if there could be a better way of supporting people who are homeless.
5. Hospital services
Ensuring people are discharged at the right time and are provided with the right support to recover effectively remains one of our top priorities in health and social care. Our hospital services task group will continue to visit Kingston Hospital and talk with patients about their discharge experiences as well as exploring better ways of obtaining feedback from patients. Issues such as communication between the hospital and the patient will be investigated during the year and our visual impairment project group will continue to work with the Royal Eye Unit to help improve signage and other accessibility issues.
At our May public Board Meeting we will present our revised strategy for 2016-17 which will include our work programme based on our top 5 areas. Everyone is welcome to attend.