Audiology Services

We would like to hear from Northumberland residents about their experience of using local audiology services (services to help with hearing loss) and the aftercare they receive. We are interested in finding out what is working well and what needs improvement. We will be at the following locations where you can call in and tell us about the services you’ve used.

Bellview Centre, Belford: Tuesday 10 September, 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Ponteland Medical Centre: Thursday 12 September, 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Age UK, Ashington: Wednesday 18 September, 10.00am – 11.00am
Adapt (NE), Hexham: Thursday 19 September, 1.00pm – 2.30pm
Seaton Delavel Community Centre: Tuesday 1 October, 10.00am – 11.00am

If you are unable to make one of these sessions and would like to feedback about audiology services, please get in touch with us directly

The Hear to Help Project from Action on Hearing Loss closed at the end of April 2019. Hearing aid support is now available directly from NHS audiology services. Find out where you can get support.

Berwick Spirituality and Recovery Group

This group, from Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust explores how spirituality can help recovery from mental health issues. The sessions are for people of all faiths and none.

The sessions take place at Northern Soul Cafe in Berwick upon Tweed, on the following Mondays between 2.00pm and 4.00pm:

28 October, 4, 11, 18 and 25 November

Attendance is free but please book a place in advance by calling: 01289 301301.

 

 

 

NHS Long Term Plan – Our Report

Thanks to everyone who told us their views on the local implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England and NHS Improvement asked Healthwatch to work with communities across the country to find out how the NHS Long Term Plan should be implemented at a local level. More than 30,000 people from across England shared their views about how the NHS can better support them in keeping well and how it can improve care for specific conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and autism.

Staff and volunteers from all 151 local Healthwatch across England also held more than 500 focus groups, bringing together people from all sections of the community to share how they would improve local NHS services.

 

Overall Satisfaction

In Northumberland, the specific health conditions which people told us about were cancer, autism, heart and lung diseases, mental health and long term conditions. People with cancer and autism reported the most positive experiences and those experiencing dementia and mental health services, the most negative. Of this group of respondents 62% felt the support they received when they first tried to access help did not meet their needs, 23% felt it did meet their needs and 15% thought it met their needs ‘somewhat’. 17% described the waiting time to receive an initial diagnosis as ‘fast’ with 63% rating it as ‘slow’ or ‘very slow’. Those with mental health conditions were the most dissatisfied with the speed of being referred to a specialist, cancer was the only condition where the referral rate was said to be ‘fast’. People with specific conditions show a preference for diagnostic services to be within an hour’s travel time. This is especially marked for those with mental health problems.

 

Travelling for Diagnosis

71% of respondents in this category used a car as their way of travelling. Living in a large rural county an hour’s travel time is important as it has different implications for those who can drive to appointments and those who rely on public transport or being driven by friends and family. Those with dementia reported using a taxi and carers pointed out the difficulty of driving with a person with dementia. The difficulty of accessing alternative or planned transport – either NHS or charitable – was noted, as dementia is not routinely an automatic qualifying condition. People with specific conditions showed a higher preference for services up to one hour travelling time away, but were prepared to travel further.

The feedback we received in Northumberland via surveys and the focus groups we held fed into the combined Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham report.

Read the full report

 

Dementia Friends Cramlington

Dementia Friends are helping Cramlington become a dementia friendly town with their Dementia Friends monthly coffee mornings.

During this year’s Dementia Action Week the Cramlington dementia working group and Manor Walks Shopping Centre joined forces and created a Thought Wall. Having reviewed all the comments received the group came up with the idea of a meeting place for carers, support workers, dementia friends and people living with the condition.

Coffee mornings will take place on the first Thursday of every month at Nando’s in Cramlington. It’s a great opportunity to meet people, find support and advice on living with dementia and also to discuss ideas to support the town in becoming dementia friendly.

Dementia Friends are on hand to give information and help suggest other available support services  – these things can make a huge difference when you or someone you know has dementia. The coffee morning aims to provide a safe and supportive place for you to:

  • Discuss your own dementia diagnosis, or someone else’s, and think about what it means for the future.
  • Speak to  Dementia Friends and discuss how to help make Cramlington a dementia friendly town.
  • Meet and learn from other people in similar situations.
  • Keep active, make new friends and feel more confident.

You can join in at Nando’s, Cramlington from 10.00am to12.00pm on the first Thursday of the month and everyone is welcome.

Find out more about support with dementia at our Dementia Page

Older People

A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing

NHS England, in partnership with Age UK, Public Health England, and the Chief Fire Officer’s Association and older people themselves, has published a Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing.

The guide helps people to stay physically and mentally well by providing hints and tips on how to keep fit and independent. It recognises, as we all should, that there is always something we can do to improve our health and wellbeing. For older people who may be starting to find things more difficult to do, it is particularly important to take active steps to slow down or reverse some of the health challenges we are all likely to face.

To help people understand their potential risk of living with frailty, the guide includes a simple, walking speed test. Taking more than five seconds to cover a distance of four metres is highly indicative of frailty, with the proviso that there is no obvious alternative reason for walking slowly such as a previous stroke or knee/hip arthritis. This is not meant to be a diagnosis, but it can provide a good indication that someone should consider making changes to their daily lives so that they can better manage their frailty or reduce the chance of it becoming more serious.

Download the Guide

New Ambulatory Care Centre Open

A new ambulatory care centre opened this month at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.  Ambulatory care is treating urgent conditions on a same day basis, without you being admitted to hospital.This is a consultant-led service provided alongside specialist nurse practitioners. Diagnostic scans may be available same day, and with medications dispensed straight from the ward, any potential delays for patients are minimised and treatments are received promptly.The ambulatory care centre is not a walk-in centre, instead patients are referred from the emergency department, their GP or other healthcare professional. The only exception to this is emergency gynaecology which patients can self-refer into. This centre will aim to treat patients on a ‘same day’ basis to prevent admission to hospital, allowing patients to receive the care they need as rapidly as possible before returning home.

If you’d like to know more about the ambulatory care centre please visit Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Dementia report

Are people with dementia getting the right support?

To find out whether people are getting the right dementia support as their condition deteriorates, Healthwatch England reviewed:

  • What over 700 people said about their care
  • Data from 97 councils about whether people’s needs are being assessed and reviewed
Fewer than half of all people with dementia, who use social care, are getting the regular care reviews they are entitled to. Councils must ensure that these reviews are happening in a timely fashion, to meet the requirements of the Care Act 2014 and to make all care plans responsive to people’s changing needs.

Key Findings

  • People don’t always have a clear understanding of the support available to them and how to access care.
  • On average, people wait over two months between requesting support for dementia from the council, to that support being put in place. However by the time that people ask, they are at crisis point.
  • Once people have a care plan, only 45% are reviewed annually.
  • People with dementia are more likely to receive unplanned reviews triggered by an emergency or sudden event than general social care users.
  • 65% of people with dementia who had a review were referred for a full reassessment. However, half of these reassessments led to no change in the level of care and support.
  • One third of people with dementia, using long-term care services did not receive any review, whether planned or unplanned.

 

Oral Care in Care Homes

This week Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its latest report on oral care health in care homes.

Their findings reflect what people have been telling Healthwatch nationally, including the problems people face in accessing dentists.

Key findings from CQC

  • People who live in care homes do not always get the support they need to maintain good oral health.
  • 52% of care homes have no policy in place to support resident’s oral health. This could mean care home staff are not aware of the need to support people with daily mouth care, like brushing their teeth.
  • Many residents are not able to access oral health products like toothbrushes as care homes would not provide them, as they are seen as a cosmetic product, not a health care one.
  • One third of care homes said they had had difficulty accessing routine NHS dentistry services. Some managers reported that domiciliary dentists refused to visit care homes.

In response to the publication of the report, Healthwatch England Chair, Sir Robert Francis QC, said:

“Healthwatch has investigated the lack of oral healthcare in care homes for a number of years, and it is encouraging that this issue is now being addressed. Daily oral health support, which includes simple things like the daily brushing of teeth, is important to maintaining people’s overall health and it needs to be taken seriously.

“I am pleased that we have been able to work with the CQC to raise the profile of this issue and it is encouraging to see that practices are beginning to change. We want people to have the confidence to know that if they speak up to Healthwatch, action will be taken.

“What we learnt from this report is that we must improve oral healthcare training for care workers. It can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of people living in care homes when care workers have a better understanding of what is good practice in oral healthcare and how they can support people to maintain good oral health.

“This report makes it clear that this issue is about more than just about access to dentists in care homes. The lack of availability of dentists is an growing issue that needs immediate attention. There is an increasing number of people who struggle to access high street dentists, and we urgently need to look at how we can successfully address this issue.”

Action on Hearing Loss logo

Valuing Audiology Report

Action on Hearing Loss has launched a report about NHS audiology services in England. The report is called Valuing Audiology – NHS hearing aid services in England.

The research into audiology services across the UK has found that 9 out of 10 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) do not hold a least of one the basic minimum pieces of information to fund their local audiology services. They do not hold information on the following:

• How much money they are spending on audiology
• The number of hearing aids they are fitting
• Whether people are getting the most out of their hearing aids

Without this information it can lead CCGs to make decisions about hearing aids where they do not have the information available thus leaving hearing aids exposed to cuts and rationing.

The report also looks into:

• Access rates (how many people with hearing loss are accessing audiology)
• Whether CCGs adhere to NICE guidelines (the guidelines which show how clinicians should be operating their services and treating patients)
• The future of technology within hearing aid services

Read the report

Annual Report 2018-19

Our latest annual report was published this week. The report documents our activity over the past year; where we’ve been, who we’ve heard from and how we’ve made a difference to people who use health and social care services. We will be talking more about the report at our Conference on 16 October in Blyth, so please put that date in your diary – more details to follow soon.

We will have hard copies of the report available very soon so please get in touch if you would like one in the post. You can download and read the report here.