Healthwatch Derbyshire has been shortlisted for a national award in recognition of the creative ways we have incorporated the skill sets of a diverse range of volunteers who have helped to improve council-funded care homes for the people of Derbyshire.
The awards are run by national body Healthwatch England to showcase the achievements of the UK-wide network of organisations in ensuring health and social care services meet the needs of local communities and that people’s views are heard.
Healthwatch Derbyshire is one of 28 shortlisted for the annual awards which attracted a record 170 entries this year.
The organisation is in the final of the volunteering category alongside Healthwatch organisations in Birmingham Northamptonshire, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Winners in the different categories will be announced at the annual Healthwatch England conference in October.
The organisation has been recognised for the Enter & View visit programme commissioned by Derbyshire County Council last year.
Healthwatch Derbyshire trained a team of volunteers who made unannounced visits to County Council’s 22 care homes that support older people and four services supporting people with learning difficulties. They then reported back on what they found.
Whilst the findings were mostly positive, as a result of this work, Derbyshire County Council has been able to take action to improve services including better signage, offering therapeutic activities and providing hearing loops to residents.
The county council has since commissioned Healthwatch Derbyshire to continue visiting care homes to monitor recommendations that were identified in the first year and highlight any further issues.
The Enter & View programme relied on a pool of skilled volunteers including two who have a learning disability and were able to provide expert insight on specific services.
These included Denise Bowles from Ilkeston who said: “I’ve loved volunteering with Healthwatch Derbyshire as it has given me the experience to get a job.
“Doing Enter & View visits helped get me out of my comfort zone as I now feel confident speaking to everyone from all age groups.”
Karen Ritchie, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Derbyshire, said: “At Healthwatch Derbyshire we are passionate about championing equality and diversity and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to aid in improving health and social care services.
“Our thanks go to all of the volunteers that conducted the visits as well as all of the residents, family, carers and staff who took the time to share their views and experiences.
“This recognition is also thanks to Derbyshire County Council for commissioning an independent review of their services and responding positively to the findings of our volunteers.”
Jane Mordue, Chair of Healthwatch England, concluded: “The Healthwatch Network Awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate this work, highlighting the difference local Healthwatch have made by using this wealth of intelligence to help decision-makers target their efforts to make things better.
“This year we received some outstanding entries from the network with over 150 submissions. We were impressed by the quality and incredible range of work on show and they all highlight the real impact we can have when peoples’ experiences are placed at the heart of the services they receive.”