Healthwatch Devon E-bulletin, 27 October 2022

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Healthwatch Devon is the independent champion for health and social care covering the largest local authority area in the South West of England with a population of 787,200 in 2017.

We take your experiences of using health and care services - both good and bad, and share these with those who have the power to make change happen.

What you are telling us

Share your experience here

Gridlocked health and care system leading to deterioration in people’s access to and experience of care

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC’s) annual assessment of the state of health and social care in England looks at the quality of care over the past year.

This year – based on CQC’s inspection activity, information received from the public and those who deliver care alongside other evidence – the assessment is that the health and care system is gridlocked and unable to operate effectively.

Most people are still receiving good care when they can access it – too often, however, people are not able to access the care they need.

Capacity in adult social care has reduced and unmet need has increased. Only 2 in 5 people are able to leave hospital when they are ready to do so, contributing to record-breaking waits in emergency departments following a decision to admit, and dangerous ambulance handover delays.

Read the full article here
Click the play button to watch a BSL interpreted video of our report on YouTube

Accessing services in Devon: Feedback from the Deaf community

In 2022, Healthwatch in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay held a series of meetings with the South West representative of the Royal Association for Deaf people to discuss various concerns that were being raised around access to British Sign Language (BSL) qualified interpreters.

These concerns include:

  • Interpreters to support appointments in hospital and GP surgeries

  • Interpreters to support complaints process

  • Access to information

Read the report on our website

New drop-in sexual health clinic in Okehampton

Devon Sexual Health is currently offering clinics at Okehampton Community Hospital and is now extending its service to offer a drop-in clinic without appointment.

There will be two drop-in clinics a month – held on the first and third Monday of the month from 4.30 - 5.30pm starting from Monday 7 November. The drop-in clinics are open to everyone and provide a full sexual health service offering contraception, including coils and implants, as well as STI testing and treatment.

The clinic is situated in the Okehampton Community Hospital, Cavell Way, Okehampton EX20 1PN.

For more information on the services offered by Devon Sexual Health click here

Chat Together - Bowel Cancer UK

Bowel Cancer UK's Chat Together is a welcoming place to talk to others with bowel cancer and to meet new people. It's a chance to share experiences in a friendly, supportive and informal environment.

People can join a free one-hour weekly call on Zoom, over six weeks, with a small group of other people who are affected by bowel cancer.

The virtual Chat Together sessions will start on 14 November across the following times and themes:

Advance bowel cancer - Monday 14 November 12-1pm
Younger People - Wednesday 16 November 1- 2pm
Friends and Family - Thursday 17 November 1-2pm
Living with a stoma - Thursday 17 November 7-8pm

To register for your free place email

Find out more about the virtual chat sessions here

Facemasks to be worn in all clinical areas across the Royal Devon from 21 October 2022

Message from Royal Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:

In light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country, to help us keep our patients, staff and visitors safe, we are asking all visitors and patients to please wear a facemask in any areas where clinical care is provided – this includes inpatient wards and clinical rooms in our acute hospitals, community sites and hospitals, primary care sites, and at our vaccination centres.

Facemasks will remain a personal choice in areas where clinical care is not provided, such as:

Corridors, ward receptions and main entrances
Onsite restaurants and shops (Raleigh Galley, TLC and Boots etc.)
We also ask that people continue to follow hand hygiene measures when visiting a Royal Devon healthcare setting.

We understand that for some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions, and these people will remain exempt.

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired, our staff have a range of communication options to ensure that they can communicate effectively with you. This might include visual aids such as writing things down, speech to text apps and sign language.

For more information click here

Winter Flu and COVID-19 Booster Vaccines

Everyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccine is being urged to take up the offer as soon as they are invited to do so. The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who will be 50 by 31 March 2023)

  • have certain health conditions

  • are pregnant

  • are in long-stay residential care

  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick

  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

Where to get the flu vaccine

You can have the NHS flu vaccine at:

  • your GP surgery

  • a pharmacy offering the service – if you're aged 18 or over

  • some maternity services if you're pregnant

Find out more about the flu vaccine here

Free safe and anonymous mental health support

A free and confidential digital mental health and wellbeing service for adults is available across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

Qwell, delivered by mental health provider Kooth, ensures that every adult living in Devon has access to a choice of support to managing their own emotional health and wellbeing. Adults can access support from Qwell without a referral from a health professional, there is no criteria to qualify for support.

Users can keep an online journal and monitor their wellbeing via an interactive goal tracker. Sitting alongside the self-help and community support, is a one-on-one live text chat and messaging counselling service with a team of qualified practitioners.

Find out more

Stress less with TALKWORKS free NHS wellbeing workshops

Stress less with TALKWORKS is a two-hour workshop introducing you to a range of techniques to help you manage stress.

The workshop covers managing when worry is taking over your life; creating manageable routines and tips to help you get a better night’s sleep. The session is all about teaching you some basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques and is led by two wellbeing practitioners who will talk you through the theory behind CBT and how to make manageable change.

These sessions are aimed at anyone over 18 who may be struggling with stress, worry, managing routines and sleep or for those who want to learn about basic CBT techniques.

Dates and times for the sessions are:

Friday 28 October – 12pm
Monday 7 November – 10am
Wednesday 7 December – 2pm
Tuesday 17 January – 12:30pm
Tuesday 14 march – 5:30pm
Tuesday 4 April – 5:30pm

Click here to find out more

Smokers are being encouraged to join Stoptober

Since it first launched 11 years ago, Stoptober has helped over 2.5 million people make a quit attempt. This year, the campaign is helping the nearly 6 million smokers in England build their confidence and give quitting a go.

Stoptober is the Department of Health and Social Care’s annual “stop smoking” campaign, coming under the umbrella brand Better Health. It is based on research that if smokers make it to 28 days smoke free, they are five times more likely to quit for good.

‘You’ve got what it takes to quit this Stoptober’ is the focus for this year’s campaign. As well as emphasising the benefits of quitting, the campaign will motivate smokers by instilling the belief that they can quit and that by joining Stoptober, they’ll have the support of the thousands of others who are making a quit attempt during October

Find out more here

Short Breaks Coffee Mornings

The Short Breaks Project is working to improve the short breaks offer for disabled children and their families. Devon County Council are working closely alongside Parent Carer Forum Devon to host a series of coffee mornings for parents and carers so that you can talk directly to them.

Listening to feedback from families is fundamental to achieving successful outcomes for all. They would like to build on the work that families have been involved in so far by holding regular face-to-face sessions around Devon with Short Breaks Project team members.

Upcoming dates and locations for the coffee mornings are:

Tuesday 8 November - Okehampton

Monday 14 November - Exeter
Tuesday 22 November - Newton Abbot

As spaces in the venues is limited, they are asking you to book a place if you would like to attend.

For more information click here

Cost of living crisis statement by SignHealth

SignHealth are a passionate and caring Deaf-led team working towards a future where there are no barriers to good health and wellbeing for Deaf people, they partner with the NHS and service providers across the country.

Get regular updates from SIgnHealth here

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Posted in SHDC.