Older people in Reading ‘have a positive experience of health and social care services’

Posted 17/01/2019

Older people in Reading have a ‘positive experience of health and social care services’ in Reading, according to an independent review of how local services work together in the borough.

However, people and their families want more say in developing local health and care strategies the review also found, which reflected evidence that Healthwatch Reading gave to the review.

The Care Quality Commission looked at how hospitals, community health services, GP practices, care homes and home care agencies work together to provide ‘seamless care’. It also looked at relationships between Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (which funds and plans local NHS services in Reading), Reading Borough Council (which funds and plans adult social services) and other organisations.

The findings, published 17 January 2019, show “people were treated with dignity, as individuals” and “services were provided in a timely and consistent way”, according to Professor Steve Field, the CQC’s chief inspector of primary medical services and integration. But there were also areas for improvement, “including support for carers”, Prof Field added.

Overall CQC reviewers found:

  • People who had a health crisis in their own home or in a care home received effective support that helped them avoid needing to go into hospital but there was not an effective system to identify people who were at risk of deterioration, before they reached crisis point
  • People who did need to go to hospital were treated with dignity and encouraged to stay active
  • People with dementia also received one-to-one support from dedicated staff who had been specially trained to care for people with high-level needs
  • Compared with other areas, older people in Reading were less likely to be kept in hospital when they were ready to leave
  • People were not always aware of the wide range of voluntary and community services available in Reading which meant that people could reach crisis point before accessing support
  • People said Readibus helped them to remain active and independent, and they were concerned that this would lead to social isolation if this service was reduced
  • Carers were concerned about the availability of respite care, while people who did not fund their own care had limited choice and control over what respite services were available.

Healthwatch Reading told reviewers that people’s experiences should be collected more regularly at various points through the ‘system’ to check if they knew what their care options were, what would happen next with their care, and who was responsible for coordinating their care. We also called for the public to be given more opportunity to have a say over services. Addressing these points, the CQC report states: ‘People who use services, their families and carers did not always feel they had opportunities to influence the delivery of care in Reading.’  It adds that system leaders had ‘acknowledged that more could be done to involve people who use services, their families and carers in the development of strategy’.

Healthwatch Reading attended a CQC summit held on 16 January 2019 to develop an action plan on how hospitals, GPs, community services, the council and the CCG could improve the way they work together to deliver better care for Reading people.

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