Making access easier in the pandemic

The changes made in services as a response to the pandemic has impacted how people across the nation could access health and social care services. Access became more difficult for some due to digital exclusion, lengthy back logs and new safety restrictions.

The limitations on access had brought a number of individuals to us at Healthwatch Stoke. These people had sought to understand and work around the many new changes. Some of those we worked with were not residents of Stoke-on-Trent, yet they required support for their vulnerable relatives who live locally, as they were unable to travel during lockdown. One of the main issues we heard was the lack of communication and transparency being given to the service users. Services often did not have the time or capacity to work closely with these individuals throughout various processes in health and social care. Individuals were left with little awareness of the mapping for a process and had no estimation of when they could expect to receive the requested care or communication.

“It has been great working closely with Healthwatch to get the best support for people.”

Locality Connectors, Stoke-on-Trent

What difference we made

We offered our time as a primary point of contact for those needing support, advice or guidance. Having a name to go to, one that they are confident knows and understands their story and needs alleviated some of the frustrations of not feeling heard, and feelings of wasting time to repeat themselves.

We worked effectively with all the necessary health and social carer services to offer residents a clear understanding of procedures and a coinciding action plan for what they need to do next to secure the desired outcome.