Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) has published the findings from its research into Putting a Face to Unmet Need, a new report on the unmet health and care needs of East Sussex residents. The report calls for better communication between local health and care services to provide a more integrated and holistic experience for service users.
Working in collaboration with Citizens Advice, Diversity Resource International (DRI) and Care for the Carers, 15 people were interviewed about their experiences of social care for this report. We found that to address their unmet needs that improvements are needed in the wider health and care system, including the NHS, local authorities and voluntary sector.
The 15 case studies describe the significant impact on the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers, difficulties in understanding and navigating health and care services and a desire for closer joint working across agencies to support people with multiple needs such as health, social services, housing and financial.
HWES make a series of recommendations based upon the report findings, considering constraints placed upon health and care services by national policy and funding.
Our recommendations include:
- Health and care services, including NHS, Adult Social Care (ASC) and voluntary sector organisations to create stronger, more joined up positive relationships to improve outcomes.
- Health and care services to develop a plan to provide information, advice and emotional support for unpaid carers.
- Health and care services to ensure that interpretation and translation services are provided when needed.
- Health and care strategies and delivery programmes to focus more resources on prevention, not just crisis management.
- ASC to develop and implement plans to help the public access social care and improve awareness of safeguarding.
The report calls for its’ recommendations to be considered by the East Sussex Health and Care Partnership Board and to address the issues raised through more integrated working. It also suggests that NHS and ASC staff are better informed on integrated health and care support available to individuals and that Primary Care Networks (PCNs) of GPs can be a primary vehicle for building a support and knowledge bank.
Healthwatch East Sussex will work closely with NHS, ASC and voluntary sector partners over the next year to develop an evaluation framework for monitoring changes made by health and care partners, based upon user experiences.
Feedback from Adult Social Care and the NHS:
Mark Stainton, Director of Adult Social Care and Health at East Sussex County Council (ESCC) says:
“Each year we provide support and advice to over 27,000 people. Our adult social care team is one part of the much bigger system providing support to residents across the county. ESCC regularly seeks feedback from our clients and residents and reports like this are extremely helpful in adding to our understanding of how the system, as a whole, is functioning. We will continue to work with our partners to use the views and experiences to develop purposeful action to improve people’s experiences of the health and care system.”
Jessica Britton, Executive Managing Director for East Sussex, NHS Sussex says:
“We recognise the benefits of health and care services working more closely together and this is demonstrated in the health and care system’s five year strategy: Improving Lives Together which was agreed by all partners and published earlier this year. The strategy sets out how we can make the biggest difference to local people, and this includes building integrated community teams across our communities, to join up care and improve people’s experiences and outcomes. A plan that sets out the actions that will be taken to achieve this will be published in July and we welcome this insight to help inform this work and ensure we are meeting the needs of those who need health and care support in East Sussex.”
Veronica Kirwan, Executive Director of Healthwatch East Sussex says:
“Our feedback from the public shows that health and care services in East Sussex work well for many of the residents of East Sussex but this report shows that there is significant unmet need as well. We now call upon health and care service providers across East Sussex to improve communications between themselves and the public in order to improve service integration and outcomes for the public”.
As the public champion for local health and care services, Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work in partnership with commissioners and providers to monitor the experiences of patients and the public in accessing health and care services locally and explore how ongoing improvements may be delivered.
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