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Knowledge gap restricts mental health support to the vulnerable

Last year we launched the Your Voice Fund, and awarded four small grants to local organisations to run projects with their service users.

These projects are helping us to gather the views of people whose experiences we don’t hear enough about, in particular, people with learning disabilities, people from LGBTQ+ communities, young people, black, asian and minority ethnic communities and people living in Northumberland through asylum or refugee resettlement programmes.

Being Woman, based in Ashington and Blyth, have been using the grant to support a conversation café activity called ‘KITES – when you are your own voice’. People from various ethnic backgrounds and at risk of social isolation have been sharing their ideas, thoughts and experiences of health and social care services.

The latest report from Being Woman shows that there is a knowledge gap restricting mental health support to the most vulnerable people in Northumberland.

A total of 61 people from BAME groups including asylum seekers and refugees were surveyed with questions around general mental health knowledge, services used and proposed future needs. 8 out of 10 people said they didn’t know they could speak with their GP about anxiety, low mood and depression.

Among the suggestions listed by respondents for better knowledge on mental health were leaflets, support groups, translation services, clubs and therapists.

Read the full report here

If you would like to tell us about your recent experience of mental health services give us a call on 03332 408 468 or tell us your story here.

Care Homes – keeping in touch with loved ones

Care home lockdown: how are you keeping in touch with your loved one?

People are telling us they are worried about care homes continuing to be closed to nearly all visits.

They understand it is safer for residents and staff and the extra efforts made to maintain the quality of life in the homes, but after six months, people say they can see the effect on their loved ones, and their own, health and wellbeing.

It seems the situation may go on for some time yet.

Sharing good practice could help make this difficult time a bit better. If your relative, loved one or friend lives in a care home we would like to know what is being done to keep you in touch day to day and on special occasions like birthdays.

We would like to know your experience of:

  • Using video calls (FaceTime, Zoom etc.) or telephone calls – does the home support these? How many times a week and how long? Does a member of staff help your loved one with the call?
  • Socially distanced visits – does the home support ‘window’ visits.  How many times a week and how for long?
  • How does the home keep you informed about how your loved one is getting on (apart from necessary issues about their care or health), for example, manager updates, photographs, videos
  • Does the home have a programme of group and one-to-one activities? Has your loved one taken part?
  • Has the home asked you what, within the current restrictions, would make this time easier?
  • What, within the current restrictions, would make it better for you and your love one?
  • When restrictions are eventually eased (not totally lifted) what would help you and your loved one?

You can tell us your experiences at one of the ways here on our contact page, text us  on 07413 385275 to make an appointment to speak to one of our team, or come along to our public online forum  around these issues on Wednesday 11 November, 2.00pm – 3.00pm.

 

Annual Survey 2020 Report

Every year we run a survey asking about your NHS, health and care experiences from the previous year. By telling us about the care you received and what’s important to you, you help us set our work for the coming year so that we can be more effective on your behalf. This year we had 814 respondents to our annual survey. We conducted 31 events and heard from people face to face, online, and by post.

How satisfied were people with health and social care services?

Health care

Most people (75%) were satisfied with the health services they had used in the last year and most felt that the quality of health services had stayed the same (54%).

Social care

Most respondents had not used social care services in the last 12 months (75%). 15% of respondents were satisfied with social care services, and 12% of respondents thought social care services had stayed the same.

Access to services vs quality of care

73% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of care they had received, with 9% saying they were dissatisfied. Just over a quarter of respondents found it difficult to access services (26%), with 49% reporting they had found it easy to access services.

Read the report below.

Healthwatch Northumberland Annual Survey 2020 Report

Come on Board – New Members Wanted

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Members

We are looking for exceptional people with a keen interest in local health and social care services to join our board.

Healthwatch Northumberland is the independent champion for health and social care across the county.  As the landscape of health and social care changes due to COVID, this is a crucial time to become involved.  By joining our skilled and enthusiastic board you will use your local knowledge to help us give a voice to people who use services, influence positive change to services and help meet the health and social care needs of our communities.

As you will appreciate, our aim to act as an independent ‘voice’ of the people of Northumberland in all matters related to health and social care, is even more important in these challenging times.

This particular role is to become an Independent Board Member working within an established team, details of which are given in the Board Recruitment Information pack below.

For more information contact Derry Nugent on: 07590 880016 or email: derryn@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk

The closing date for applications is 9.00am on 16 October 2020 with interviews taking place in week commencing 26 October 2020 via Zoom.

 

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Recruitment Information Pack

Healthwatch Northumberland Board Member Application Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Service for Young Carers

A new service to support young carers has been commissioned by Northumberland County Council. Carers Northumberland, the local support service for adult carers will be leading on the project.

Anne-Marie Johnstone has been appointed as the Young Carers Support Worker for Northumberland and will be working with other youth and young people’s services across the county to provide individual tailored support for young carers.

The aims of the project are to ensure that children and young people have the support they need to learn, develop, and thrive, to enjoy positive childhoods and to achieve their full potential.

The service uses a whole family approach, which ensures that both children and parents are able to get the support they need, at the right time, by supporting families to access integrated, co-ordinated, multi-agency, solution focused support. By identifying problems early, different services can work more closely together to help prevent a family’s needs escalating and requiring a more intensive intervention at a later date.

All young carers will have an assessment of their needs which identifies the level of caring and how this is impacting on their life.  A Plan will then be developed  with the young carer and their family to  help support them and reduce the negative impact of caring on their lives which will enable the young carer to access the same life opportunities as their peers.

Young carers referred to the project will also be able to access to a Young Carers Active Northumberland card for use in the county’s leisure centres, and a small grants scheme which will offer financial support to young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities.

Anyone who is working with a family or young person, who feels that there is someone in that dynamic with a caring role can make a referral into the project.

Download the New Covid-19 App

The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free in England and Wales, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from coronavirus. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy.

What the app does

Trace – get alerted if you’ve been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Alert – let’s you know the level of coronavirus risk in your postcode area

Check-in – get alerted if you have visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus

Symptoms – check if you have coronavirus symptoms and see if you need to order a free test

Test – helps you book a test and get your result

Isolate – keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice

 

More information on NHS Covid-19 App

Flu jabs for health and care workers

Health and care professionals are being encouraged to get their annual flu jab.

If you work in health or care this is the most effective way to protect yourself, your family and those you care for.

This is anything but a typical year and we all want to protect ourselves and those close to us. Due to the potential impact of influenza and Covid-19 it’s now more important than ever to protect ourselves from getting the flu.

The flu virus spreads from person-to-person, even amongst those not showing any symptoms. Frontline workers are at an increased risk of contracting flu and it’s very easy to pass the virus on without knowing. Even if you’re healthy, you can still get flu and spread it to the people you care for, your colleagues and to your family.

Getting your flu jab is simple, easy and free. All you need to do is ask your employer.

The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses so it cannot give you flu. The most common side effect can be a slight temperature or your arm may feel a bit sore where you had the injection. Other reactions are rare.

If you are not a health or care worker but would like to find out more about getting a flu jab visit the NHS website to check if you are eligible.

Our Review of the Year and AGM

Our Review of the year and AGM will take place online on Wednesday 21 October, from 2.00pm and 4.00pm. Find out about our work and how we made a difference to people in Northumberland over the last 12 months.

As the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care says ‘People should have phone or video consultations with their doctors unless there is a clinical reason not to’, and that there had been a ‘hugely positive’ response to virtual appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, we will also have guest presenters talking about technology in NHS and social care services. We’ll explore how the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the move to online appointments and consultations, what has worked well and not so well, and what we can expect in the future.

You can ask a question in advance or at the Q&A session in our webinar.

Join us if you can!

Register for the Healthwatch Northumberland Review of the Year

National Eye Health Week 2020

This week is National Eye Health Week (NEHW). It runs from 21 to 27 September, promoting the importance of good eye health and the need for regular eye tests for all.

David Cartwright, chair of Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for organising the National Eye Health Week (NEHW) campaign explains: “NEHW provides a unique opportunity for everyone involved in optics to join forces and inspire people to take positive steps to keep their eyes and vision healthy as well as preventing avoidable sight loss.

“Delays in people seeking treatment during lockdown and reduced capacity in optical practice mean it’s important that those with greatest need are prioritised. This year’s National Eye Health Week will seek to mobilise those that are experiencing problems with their vision or eye health and encourage them to seek help from their local eye care practitioner.”

Throughout the week watch out for advice about looking after your eyes and the 10 Best Eye Health Habits. These include: eating a healthy, balanced diet, not smoking, watching your weight and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage.

Each day of the week will feature a different theme. Themes for 2020 include: Ageing eyes, screen use and kids’ eye health.

Visit the Vision Matters website for top tips and resources to look after your eyes including a podcast, new online eye health calculator and vision simulator.

If you notice a change to your vision or have any concerns about your eye health contact your local optician.

Why not tell us about your local optician to help improve services. How was the service your received? Did you struggle to get seen during lockdown? Tell us your story here.

Northumbria Healthcare logo

Non-essential hospital visits suspended

From Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:
Due to the rise in cases of coronavirus in the community, non-essential visiting is to be suspended in hospitals across Northumberland and North Tyneside, with effect from midnight, Thursday 17 September 2020.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has taken this difficult, however important, decision to protect its patients and staff.Until further notice, visiting will only be permitted in the following circumstances and PPE must be worn:

  • For patients who are receiving end-of-life care or are terminally ill and in the late stages of their illness
  • For birthing partners in maternity units
  • For parents or legal guardians in the children’s unit
  • For long-stay patients and those with dementia or where best interest decisions or exceptional clinical/social matters are being discussed, at the discretion of the nurse in charge

Women can bring their birthing partners when attending 12 or 20-week scan appointments.

This move comes as tougher restrictions are announced for the seven local authority areas in the North East, including Northumberland and North Tyneside.

iPads will continue to be available on wards to facilitate ‘virtual’ visiting and friends and relatives will be able to stay connected to loved ones by ringing the trust’s patient line on 0191 293 4306, available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm or sharing pictures/photos via In addition, patients can make unlimited phone calls to UK landlines and mobiles free of charge via bedside units.

Anyone attending an outpatient or diagnostic appointment or for a minor injury, urgent care or in an emergency at hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside is asked to do so alone, unless they need to be accompanied by a carer, to reduce footfall. People attending hospital sites are being reminded to wash their hands at the basins when entering and leaving, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals at Northumbria Healthcare, said:

“In light of the increased numbers of cases of coronavirus across Northumberland and North Tyneside, we simply must take action now to protect our patients, staff and local communities.

“Suspending non-essential visiting is a difficult decision to make however, given the current situation in our communities, it is the right one if we are to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our hospitals and take care of our most vulnerable patients.

“As nurses, we know the positive impact seeing and hearing from loved ones can have on a patient and we would urge families to make use of the methods we have in place to facilitate virtual visiting and staying connected.

“We had tremendous support from our communities when we had these visiting restrictions in place previously and we would appeal to them again for their co-operation at this difficult time.”

The trust is also reminding people to:

  • Follow advice on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/if they have symptoms and not to attend A&E or hospital sites for a Covid-19 test.
  • Keep your distance and follow rules on social distancing – please stay apart 2 metres from others where possible. If it isn’t – one metre with mitigations such as a face covering.
  • Do not mix with people from outside your household or support bubble
  • Wear a face covering – especially in enclosed public spaces when social distancing can be difficult or when you are in contact with people you would not normally meet. This includes when you are using public transport, car sharing and using taxis. Please remember to wear a face covering if you are attending health care settings such as a hospital, clinic, GP surgery or pharmacist.
  • Keep those hands extra clean – wash hands for 20 seconds and often. Use soap and water to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. It is especially important to do this when you
    • get home or into work
    • blow your nose or sneeze
    • eat or handle food or drinks

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste

If you have symptoms, you are advised to get a test and stay at home. For more information visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus