Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden, Director

Healthwatch Camden, along with other local stakeholders, has been involved in a project to set up a Community Education Providers Network or CEPN for short, which will co-ordinate training and staff development across health and social care in Camden. The network is concentrating on services provided in the community – by primary care, community health and social care services. Getting services right at this level is important. I recently saw an interesting blog by Gill Morgan, summarising why developing at community level matters.

Gill describes how community health services used to be most people’s experience of healthcare, although modern healthcare has become concentrated in institutions.  She says:

Community health services lack the high public profile of other NHS services, and yet they often reach the deepest into our lives. They are part of our neighbourhoods, they come into our homes, and are with us for the long term….

“Their personal, community based approach means they take many different forms, and are often organised to meet local patients’ and service users’ particular needs. Their underpinning philosophy is to help people live as independent and fulfilling a life as possible, for as long as possible.

Yet their role has never been well defined or as widely recognised as other parts of the NHS. …”

Like Gill Morgan, Healthwatch Camden believes that community health is an essential part of creating better and new models of care. Part of achieving the sort of services local people want to see is developing the workforce that delivers those services. 

We want to see healthcare professionals who can work alongside other care, support and advice professionals, and with service users and their families, using new approaches to relationship building and collaborative working.

The CEPN steering group has looked at feedback from local people about the sorts of services they want to see, and the sort of workforce they want to meet. We developed some priorities for the training that is needed:

  • A systematic approach to health inequality – make every contact count.
  • To ensure services are culturally sensitive and recognise diversity.
  • Develop an integrated mental and physical health approach.

 To put these priorities into action, workers need a range of skills and knowledge:

  • Health and social care professionals need to have an understanding of the wider determinants of health. They need to be able to refer to relevant services where possible.
  • Diversity needs to be part of the everyday thinking in health and care, not just a box to be ticked.
  • Staff and leaders need to develop an integrated mental and physical health approach at every level of health improvement, prevention, treatment, care and recovery.
  • Frontline staff need to be confident and competent in communicating with people about mental health and supporting them to improve it, including being able to recognise signs of mental distress and supporting children, young people, parents and adults appropriately into appropriate services.
  • Staff need greater awareness of how to support people with complex needs and how to refer to appropriate services, including self-help support.

Healthwatch Camden wants to see people who use health and social care services and voluntary and community organisations (including user led organisations) involved in providing training. So we have asked the CEPN to make sure they are offering opportunities to design and deliver training.

The next CEPN networking event is on 18 September. If you’ve got ideas for training the health and social care workforce of the future, get in touch.