man in a care home Northumberland

Care homes, Covid-19 and beyond

In September 2020 it was widely reported that people who were living in care homes in Northumberland during lockdowns had struggled to keep in touch with their loved ones, as visiting restrictions were in place to protect the most vulnerable from infection.

We responded by asking for feedback from people whose loved ones were in care homes in Northumberland. We hosted a series of online forums which took place in November 2020, January 2021, March 2021, and June 2021. We had 46 attendees across these four forums consisting of 26 different people, as many attended more than one and in some cases all of the forums.

At different stages of changes in visiting guidance for care homes these forums gathered feedback from relatives around their experience of visiting and other ways they were keeping in touch with loved ones during the pandemic. We also heard from professionals who work with older people including those with dementia, their carers, and other professionals in the health and social care field.

It is important to acknowledge that the Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented and care home staff had to work under extremely difficult and challenging conditions for a long time. Whilst many relatives who attended the forums generally had less than positive experiences to share, they were also keen to know what good practice was taking place across care homes.

Visiting experiences had also improved by our final forum and survey responses have also shared positive approaches taking place. We ran a survey for relatives of those living in care homes and care home staff from mid-March to early June 2021 to gather additional feedback. The survey had a total of 22 responses.

Read more in our report: Care Homes, Covid-19 and Beyond

Find lots of information and support at our Your Health pages

We’re recruiting – join our board!

Could this be you?

  • Are you passionate about improving local NHS and care services?
  • Could you act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of your community and let us know about any changes needed to local health and social care services?
  • Do you want to ensure Healthwatch Northumberland works in an inclusive and equitable way?

Great! We would like you think about joining our board.

You would be one of 15 board members who guide and oversee Healthwatch Northumberland’s work.

It is very important the people involved with Healthwatch Northumberland have experience of using health and social care services including as a carer. We are keen to hear how you could use what you know to help understand what is happening in our diverse communities.

How much time is involved?

The minimum commitment is four board meetings per year plus a review day.  Meetings take place during the working day, and last approximately 2.5 hours.  We meet in different places (we pay travel expenses) or online.

If you want to you can get more involved including helping us at community engagement events or with research.  It would be up to you.

If you want to know more have a look at our information pack and or contact Derry Nugent, Project Co-ordinator on 07590 880016 or

Please return completed application forms by 1 October 2021.

Information Pack

Application Form

older lady with dementia looking at the camera

Dementia diagnosis: what next?

Getting a dementia diagnosis can be a big shock, and it can be hard to know what to do next. Take a look at this guide to find out what support you should receive.
The essential information you should get after a dementia diagnosis
  • Your type of dementia and how it will affect you.
  • Any further tests, treatment, activities or therapies that might help you.
  • Who will provide your care and how to contact them, including the professional who will coordinate your care.
  • Support groups and charities that can help you.
  • How dementia can affect your driving and what you need to do.
  • How your employer should support you if you work (or are looking for work).
  • Any research studies you could take part in.

This information should be explained to you and given to you in writing. You can also ask for it in a format you understand. If you don’t need this information straight away, you can ask for it later on.

What else should you talk about with your GP?

  • Consent – Do you agree to services sharing information about you? Who can they share information with, and what are you willing for them to share?
  • Information – Do you know who to contact for more advice if your needs change?
  • Future contact – You may not need any help or further appointments now. If that is the case, would you like to be contacted again and if so, when?

Next step checklist

It’s not just health and care support you need to think about when diagnosed with dementia. To help you, Dementia UK has created a checklist to follow, which includes information on benefits and discussing plans and wishes with your family.

Dementia UK checklist

What support have you received? 

Have you or loved one had a dementia diagnosis? We want to hear your experience of dementia care and support – good and bad. We have the power to make sure NHS leaders and other decision makers listen to and act on your feedback. So, if you’ve got a story to share, tell us!

Planning your care


After your dementia diagnosis, your GP should direct you to services that can give you more information and support. You should also be given the name of a professional who will coordinate any care and support you might need.

The future

Thinking ahead can feel overwhelming, but planning care can help make sure people know your wishes for the future. When you’re ready for this, you should be offered support and information to discuss your options.

Support for carers

Anyone with caring responsibilities for a person with dementia is entitled to a Carers’ Assessment. Their local Authority will carry this out. The Assessment will look at the impact of caring for a person with dementia and what support is needed. Take a look at Dementia UK’s guidance on Carers’ Assessments for more information.

As a carer, it is essential to think about your health and wellbeing. It is a significant adjustment, so you should take a look at the options available to you. These can include:

  • Training
  • Support
  • Advice

More information

The information on this page is from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guide for people with dementia and their family and carers. Take some time to read the guide in full to understand better the support available to people with dementia and their carers.

Read full guidance

Visit our dementia health page for information on local services

GP online services

Click and Connect: GP Online Services Report

GP online services can cover a range of different functions, for example, booking appointments online, ordering repeat prescriptions and viewing medical records, test results and medicines. Many people find it more convenient to register for online services rather than having to rely on telephone or in person contact with their surgery. This has been magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic, due to social distancing restrictions.

We were contacted by someone who told us about the difficulties they had experienced trying to register for GP services online. They found the process complicated, particularly as they were asked to visit the practice in person with ID, in the middle of the pandemic. We decided to do some work to look at how people in Northumberland could register for online services at GP practices across the county.

Click and Connect: GP Online Services Report

Woman outside a hospital

Here to Hear – at our new monthly drop-ins

Healthwatch Northumberland Monthly Drop-ins

From September we’ll be holding monthly drop-ins, in all five local council areas of the county. These new drop-in sessions are a chance for residents to tell us about their experiences of NHS and social care services so that we can understand what is working well and what could be improved. You can also use our Signposting and Information Service to find out more about local support and services. Call in at one of the venues below, or if you’d prefer to make a specific appointment for one of the sessions, please get in touch.

If you can’t make one of the drop-in sessions or would prefer to speak to us via Zoom, please come along to our monthly online drop-in. We may invite special guests to talk about specific issues and services to some of these online sessions, so keep an eye on the website and social media for details.

  • The Hub, Cramlington NE23 6US: First Wednesday of the month starting 1 September, 11.00am – 1.00pm
  • Haltwhistle Leisure Centre NE49 9DP: First Friday of the month starting 3 September, 11.00am – 1.00pm
  • North Northumberland Voluntary Forum, Berwick TD15 1NG: Second Wednesday of the month starting 8 September, 10.00am – 12.00pm
  • Buffalo Community Centre, Blyth NE24 1LL: Third Tuesday of the month starting 21 September, 9.45am – 11.45am
  • Northumberland County Blind Association, Morpeth NE61 1TD: Fourth Wednesday of the month starting 22 September, 11.00am – 1.00pm
  • Online Zoom drop-in: Second Friday of the month starting 10 September, 1.00pm – 2.00pm. Zoom link
    Meeting ID: 873 4740 6445  Passcode: 604994


You can leave feedback at any time here on our website

Healthwatch Northumberland Feedback Report April to June 2021

What you told us: April to June 2021

Healthwatch Northumberland Feedback Report April to June 2021

Between April and June 2021, we received feedback from 63 individuals from talking to people at face-to-face engagement events, telephone calls, emails, our website, social media, and other sources. We signposted 20 of these people to services.

This quarter we received feedback and enquiries from:

  • Telephone calls (42%)
  • Emails (23%)
  • Website (19%)
  • Social media (12%)
  • Engagement event (5%)

Each quarter we look at who we are hearing from across the county, including location, gender, age, and whether the respondent is sharing their own health and social care experience or speaking on behalf of a friend or relative.

We also look at the general sentiment of comments, with specific reference to the service type, for example whether that’s primary care (doctors, dentists, pharmacies), secondary care (hospital services), mental health or social care, as well as whether the feedback relates specifically to quality of the care or access to services.

Find out more about who we heard from and what we were told, below.

Feedback Report April – June 2021

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Survey 2020-21

Annual Report 2020/21

Find out what we got up to in the last 12 months in our Annual Report. Read about the highlights of our year including our work on care home visits and how we worked with others to get results.

There are also examples of how our Information and Signposting service helped individuals, and how our fabulous volunteers continued to support us and our communities through the pandemic.

There are lots of fantastic Northumberland photos inside too!

If you’d like to tell us about your experiences of care or have a query for our Signposting and Information Service, please get in touch.


Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Report 2020/21

We’re back on the road! Find us in your area

We getting out and about again in communities across Northumberland this summer! We’ll be heading to the venues below with our Annual Survey, goodie bags and information and signposting service, so do stop by to say hello, pick up a survey and some freebies.


Find us at:

  • Cafe @ Burn Lane, Hexham: Monday 21 June, 11.00am – 1.30pm
  • Outside the Co-op, Prudhoe: Wednesday 23 June, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Merton Road, Ponteland: Friday 25 June, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Market Square, Haltwhistle: Monday 28 June, 11.00am – 1.30pm
  • Outside Morrisons, Bedlington: Thursday 1 July, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Ashington Market: Tuesday 6 July, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Berwick Market: Wednesday 7 July: 10.00am – 12.30pm
  • Outside Bellingham Library: Friday 9 July, 2.00pm – 4.00pm
  • Morpeth Market: Wednesday 14 July, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Outside Morrisons, Amble: Thursday 15 July, 9.30am – 12.00pm
  • Outside Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington: Monday 19 July, 1.00pm – 3.30pm
  • Outside The Cheviot Centre, Wooler: Thursday 22 July, 1.00pm – 3.00pm
  • Blyth Market: Friday 23 July, 9.30am – 12.00pm


Our Annual Survey is a chance to tell us about the health and social care services you and your family have used over the last 12 months

With services working to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, your views have never been more important and can play a crucial role to help us identify and address issues that affect the quality of people’s care.

You can also help us decide where to focus our work in the year ahead.

If you can’t get to one of our events, you can tell us about your experiences at the online survey or you can get in touch to ask for a paper copy and freepost envelope. If you would like to complete the survey over the phone with one of our friendly team please call 03332 408468 or text 07413 385275 to arrange a call back.


NHS and social care feedback

Tell us your Story – in our Annual Survey

Our Annual Survey is a chance to tell us about the health and social care services you and your family have used over the last 12 months.

Your views and experiences continue to help professionals understand key local issues and how well services are working for you, your family and our communities.

With services working to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, your views have never been more important and can play a crucial role to help us identify and address issues that affect the quality of people’s care.

You can also help us decide where to focus our work in the year ahead.

You can tell us about your experiences at the online survey or you can get in touch to ask for a paper copy and freepost envelope. If you would like to complete the survey over the phone with one of our friendly team please call 03332 408468 or text 07413 385275 to arrange a call back. Closing date is 23 July 2021.

We will be back in towns across the county this summer with our first ‘live’ events since last spring. Come and say hello if you can – we’ll have copies of the survey, our information and signposting service and some goodie bags to give away. See where we’ll be over the next few weeks: Healthwatch Northumberland – back on the Road