A vibrant event for community healthcare appreciative inquiry

The best community healthcare is delivered by well trained and well paid staff, who are well supported and who have the time to offer patient centred services, concluded an inquiry into community healthcare in Lewisham.

It is also holistic, taking into account many aspects of the patient’s life and health. Central to successful delivery is cooperation between services, the voluntary sector and the community.

An Appreciative Inquiry was held on Saturday 28th of June to look at what excellent care looks like.

Lewisham Hospital having been secured and now operating within the new Trust – the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign with Lewisham Healthwatch have been researching examples of excellent and good community care with the aim of supporting the best in and out of hospital care in the borough.

Over 100 stories had been gathered from users, clinicians and managers to find out from people’s personal experience what are the key features, the magic ingredients that make good community healthcare so valuable.

Four of those stories were used to kick start the day and with the imaginations of attendees they then shared their own stories and identified what had made them positive experiences.

“I have had a long and difficult journey from being a fit and vigorous man in middle age to being a wheelchair user. My GP’s medical support and emotional support have been fantastic.”

“Straight to the hospital,”  “I could tell her anything.”

“Took the time to accept my worries.”

“Extraordinary skill, a few metres from my house.”

“It made me realise that it is not stigmatising to be depressed and it helped empower me to take control of my own life again.”

Life can never be taken for granted. Anyone can become sick or disabled and in need of care and support at any time. At these periods of crisis and stress, NHS services become a vital part of managing, if not of survival.  Aside from hospital provision, this includes district nurses, community palliative care, pharmacists, GPs and many, many other services.

Organiser Carolyn Emanuel said :

‘At a time when politicians are looking at ways to join up hospital and community care the findings from this event will form a significant way of highlighting the best standards of practice, which we hope will be included in any future models of delivery.’  

“I have severe learning difficulties and autism. All the staff at the surgery are brilliant. We always get an appointment on demand. They’re completely tolerant of challenging behaviour and don’t keep us hanging around.

“Kindness, non-judgmental approach.”  Looking at the positives, highlight the strengths”

“Different parts of the NHS talked with each other. Joined-up care.

Everyone was briefed.”

“Very happy with carer. Was a bit shy at first but got to know her.”

“I am much calmer in the knowledge that I am seeing the same practitioner who knows me personally and reviews my epilepsy more regularly.”

“This helped me to stay in my managerial and caring role without losing time or money. I come from so far I would have had to take a whole day out just for a doctor’s appointment.”

Common to all the stories was staff having the time to deliver excellent care. That time enabled them to listen to and understand the patient and their needs, create a smooth pathway between services and empower the patient to manage their own health.

The gathering then identified a series of practical actions to make these recommendations a reality –

  • a public education programme to help people understand and get involved with the design of local health strategy and policy;
  • identifying ways to make sure NHS staff are involved in all decisions about the delivery of community healthcare; and
  • making sure the voluntary sector is represented in the right places to promote a joined up health and social care strategy.
  • A challenge to the NHS on the Private Finance Initiative, a mortgage on NHS property which is draining our NHS of cash which goes to private corporations.
  • Harnessing new media to improve health, specifically for young people, but extended to anyone.

Miriam Long, manager of Healthwatch Lewisham, said:

 “This was a great way to end the evidence gathering stage of the inquiry. It was a vibrant event with some great outcomes.”

“The next stage is to write the report and a plan of action that will be discussed with commissioners. The involvement of so many people has meant we’ll be able to tell them a compelling story.”

The plan of action will be discussed at the next Healthwatch Lewisham Reference Group meeting. It will take place from 10.30am to 2pm on Tuesday 29 July in the Council Chambers, Civic Suite, Catford.  All welcome book your place here.

In preparation. We would like anyone who has had a good experience of community healthcare in Lewisham to tell us about it. In preparation, we would welcome more submissions of your positive stories. Please write in to the Save Lewisham Hospital website at http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/community-care-survey/ or call Healthwatch Lewisham on 020 7998 7796.

Simone Riddle

Community Engagement Officer

Voluntary Action Lewisham

St. Laurence Community Centre

31 – 37 Bromley Road

Catford, London SE6 2TS



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