It has been a year of change for all of us and at Healthwatch Wokingham as we have adapted to new ways of working during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with many other organisations.
Much of our planned public engagement and visits to services paused and we delivered an increased focus on providing advice, signposting and digital engagement.
To support the local response to Covid-19 we worked closely with our partners at Wokingham Borough Council and the voluntary and community sector.
You can read all about the work we have been carrying out, and what our priorities are for the
next year, in our Annual Report available on our website, www.healthwatchwokingham.co.uk
In Spring last year, we undertook a Borough-wide survey seeking to identify and understand the needs of residents impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This highlighted the need for accurate and timely information regarding health service changes, and as a result we undertook a mystery shop of GP websites.
Our report, GP Websites – How Easy Is It To Find Information, made six recommendations to the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on improving information on the 13 Wokingham Borough GP surgery websites.
This included improving information about Covid-19 safety and protocols in the building environment, being accompanied to an appointment, registration and giving feedback and making a complaint.
The CCG agreed to implement the six website recommendations that we made, not only in Wokingham Borough but also GP surgery websites in Reading and West Berkshire – 47 in total.
The worries, sadness and restrictions of the past year have been difficult for everyone.
From people’s feedback, Healthwatch Wokingham became aware of some specific effects on a cross section of residents: unpaid carers.
We wanted to ensure carers in the Borough in 2020-21 could voice their current experiences so that health and social care decision makers would be aware of the challenges they were facing in the present and be able to plan how to meet their and their loved ones’ needs in the future.
To gather the experiences of carers we ran online focus groups with local carers support organisations and ran a survey available digitally or over the telephone.
Our full report will be published soon.
Our opportunity to engage face-to-face with Wokingham residents had to change due to social distancing requirements. In addition to our helpdesk, we utilised our column in Wokingham.Today, website and social media presence to keep the public informed and updated regarding: Government advice, local health and care services and where to get help and support from the voluntary and community sector.
We engaged with different groups meeting on video conferencing platforms.
Healthwatch Wokingham was also able to engage, provide advice and information via the variety of boards members sit on.
For example, we are the Health Champions on the Learning Disability Partnership Board (LDPB), which is an empowering and inclusive network whose aim is to break down barriers and enable positive outcomes for people with learning disabilities and their families. During this year, the LDPB has run regular roadshows for members of the Learning Disability community, their carers and families.
If you have a health or social care experience to share please get in touch. Call 0118 418 1418, email email@example.com or write to: Healthwatch Wokingham, Town Hall, Market Place, Wokingham, RG40 1AS