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Community needs

Summary :: Our community :: Community needs

When commissioning services in Medway, knowing the view of the community is essential. Analysing data cannot necessarily tell commissioners the reality of people's experiences and it does not answer questions such as why the hard to reach groups are not accessing certain services. By engaging with the community directly and asking what people need, commissioners can see first hand the real issues experienced.

In November 2011, a community engagement event was held in Rochester with Medway LINk — an independent network of local people and community groups working together to influence health and social care. Over 110 people attended from more than 30 third sector organisations which broadly represented Medway's diverse population. The discussion was centred around the proposed changes to the NHS and Medway Commissioning Group (MCG) was introduced as the future commissioner for healthcare in Medway. [1]

During the afternoon there were workshops to investigate what the top health priorities are for people in Medway and what MCG can do to support people to lead healthier lives and make good lifestyle choices. When the attendees were asked about the PCT's communication channels they said that Medway Matters and Health Matters were effective and informative, whilst Medway LINk and the electronic communications channels were not as well known. Those who had not previously seen any of the communication channels said that communication needs to be co-ordinated so that people aren't bombarded with the same information from a number of sources. People also felt that jargon should not be used and a variety of methods used, not just electronic. It will therefore be important to be flexible and work with communities to identify the best way to get messages out. [1]

The needs that were identified in the workshop can be grouped into four main themes. It should be noted that the event was held on a midweek afternoon and the attendees were mostly white females aged 50 and over and this should be taken into account when looking at the views below. In future, a broader representation will be sought by holding events at different times, days and venues. The key points are listed below.

Continuity and availability of care


• Better continuity of care so there is a seamless transition between GPs and either community services or secondary care.
    • This will improve care of the elderly upon leaving hospital.
    • It would also improve duplication of communications between the services and reduce time delay.
• Improved access to services including transport (better bus services on Sunday, bank holidays and evenings and less expensive car parking), flexibility of opening hours and home visits.

People power


• More support for self management of long term conditions
• Support community groups who can help each other through peer support — work together to improve social and physical wellbeing
• Encourage exercise at home
• Involve community champions
• Involve patients in decision making
• Work with employers to promote healthy living
• Support network in community

Education


• Increase public understanding of commissioning groups and processes
• Improve preventative health through education, including showing children the bad effects of substance misuse
• Increase GP's understanding of learning disabilities
• Use nurses to support patients so they understand their condition, maybe in the form of group seminars
• Advice sessions/centres where people can drop in and get quick reassurance that they do not need to see a doctor for their ailment.
• Provide better understanding of official pressures and ways to complain/ raise issues
• Drop in sessions for hard to reach groups, providing information or support on aspects of the wider determinants of health, for example housing

Communications and Engagement


• Reassurance that public voice will be heard, including feedback when public consultation has been sought to show the opinions have been considered
• Engagement with everyone — old and young, minority groups, hard to reach groups and catering for different languages
• Facilitate greater awareness of health issues and the services available
• Put more information in the local paper
• Consider access to a computer/ the internet when sharing information
• Promote healthcare as part of people's daily lives — supermarket, train station, buses etc
• Make sure reception staff understand the importance to a patient of seeing who they would like to see

As part of the concluding section, a request was made by the commissioners for people to recognise when they are in a section of society that the service provision is not addressing, to tell the commissioners how to make it better. With participation from service users, commissioners can continue to learn and make sure the correct services are in place. [1]


References

[1]   Medway Commissioning Group. The future of healthcare in Medway 2011; Medway Commissioning Group.