People in Reading who are sometimes described as ‘seldom heard’ have been given a voice through a Healthwatch Reading project.
Our team went out and spoke to people whose experiences, feedback and suggestions might be overlooked or not sought by local services because of various barriers. These might include having a disability, not being able to speak English, or not understanding their right to have their say to help influence the quality of local health and social care services.
We worked in partnership with charities who support these people to arrange special sessions where people could share their ‘top three priorities’.
We have now published the first four of our series of short reports (see summary boxes below, and our reports section for full findings) and we will share these with organisations responsible for providing, funding or planning health or social care for these groups of people.
People supported by Reading Mencap told us they need:
- health and social care staff who are properly trained about learning disabilities
- to be able to see the same GP each time they visit their surgery
- to get enough, good quality care to help keep them safe and to live as independently as possible
“Sometimes they [care support workers] cancel on the day [and] no-one comes.”
People attending the Reading Community and Learning Centre for language or other classes, said they need:
- access to interpreting services when using the NHS
- culturally aware and timely provision of accurate information about locally available services
- longer appointments, if they do not speak English as their first language, so they can adequately discuss serious health or care concerns and understand their options
‘My GP called the [interpreting] phone service. It was good.’
People supported by Reading Refugee Support Group said they need:
- better access to interpreting services
- better and more accessible information, including details about what they can expect in and from healthcare services
- healthcare professionals who make sure that people understand the outcome of appointments – including any diagnosis, what they need to do or what will happen next with their care
One person said a hospital wanted to charge him £240 for a blood test, even though he had papers connected to his asylum application showing he did not need to pay for NHS services. He went back to his GP, who did the blood test at the surgery instead.
People supported by learning disability charity Talkback said they need:
- services to be sensitive to the needs of carers such as family members, who help them with things like arranging and attending appointments
- easy-read leaflets or other adapted information to help them understand services, their options and their care
- their rights to be known and upheld – such as the right to have reasonable adjustments made to services so they can use them
“They put up on a screen when it’s your time to see the doctor, but I need support to read this.”