We attended the launch of the Camden Community Education Provider Network

What sort of staff do we want in community health and social care services? What training and support will help staff to provide the sorts of joined-up services that we know people want? These are some of the questions that Healthwatch Camden trustee, Pam Hibbs, was helping to answer at the launch on 26th March.

The network beings together commissioners, providers, educators, researchers, voluntary organisations and Healthwatch. It aims to support better joining-up between services, through making sure that people have the skills to work flexibly, across organisational boundaries.

Pam shared some of the insights that Healthwatch Camden has gained from our contacts with local people and our research projects. We know that people want joined up services. One person told us:

“Different agencies and sectors are unaware of what each other offers and therefore unable to refer people to alternative sources of help and support”

We know that people want empowering relationships, with workers who treat them as partners in their own wellbeing:

“Not enough is done to capture what works for service users from service users themselves”

We know that people want to feel safe and to feel respected. They want workers who turn up on time and who know what they are doing. They want equal access.

“I have seen deaf people in tears because we feel like we are hitting a brick wall. And they look at you like you’re nuts.”

Pam also shared her own experience as a service user. She reflected on the difference between now and the start of her career as a nurse, sixty years ago. In those days, you could not do so much for people. Many of them would die. So all you could do was be kind to them. Now, many conditions are treatable and nurses have fantastic technical skills. But sometimes being kind seems to be forgotten.

Pam described the experience of her partner’s death from cancer. Hospital staff seemed unprepared to discuss end of life care. Pam, herself recovering from spinal surgery, was left to sort out the support. Luckily, she has excellent links with St Joseph’s hospice, as a former chair of trustees, but most people don’t have this background.

Finally, she reminded participants that older people are an asset to the health and social care system – they make up the bulk of volunteers, giving all sorts of support. As people live longer, the health and social care system needs to rethink how they include older people.

Healthwatch Camden continues to share people’s views and experience of services with those who plan and run services. We want to see people who use local health and social care services involved in training staff in those services. We’ll be encouraging all the members of Camden’s Community Education Provider Network to use the knowledge and experience of local service users.

 If you’d like to know more, or to get involved, get in touch or comment below.