The Healthwatch Southwark team have been considering guidance from Healthwatch England and working closely with us, Community Southwark, to decide how they can best support people in Southwark during the coronavirus outbreak.
Healthwatch Southwark priorities during the coronavirus outbreak:
Information and signposting
- Fighting coronavirus by providing and publicising the most up-to-date guidance from reliable NHS and government sources. This will include how to prevent the spread of the virus, what symptoms to look for, what to do if someone is unwell, how to use health and care services, and how to stay as healthy as possible (including mentally). They are checking this information daily
- Providing information on changes to legislation, as a result of the outbreak, which impact on health and care.
- Continuing to provide information to anyone who is at risk because they face urgent issues with their health and social care, for whatever condition (while recognising that the system cannot operate as normal during this outbreak), and taking necessary action to safeguard them and others in line with their usual duties.
- Responding to less urgent information and signposting requests - but this may be slower than usual.
Passing on feedback to help the system respond
- Sharing information about problems in the coronavirus response, where patient safety might be compromised, with the right people as soon as possible.
- Sharing with Healthwatch England the questions people are asking and problems they are facing around coronavirus and related services.
- Looking into ways we can proactively find out how people are experiencing information and services during the outbreak, so that we can give the most useful feedback possible.
- Continuing to listen to any other feedback people want to give us about other aspects of health and social care, although we may decide to pass this on to partners only once the outbreak has ended.
Working together to do what we can
- Working closely with colleagues in Community Southwark (our host organisation and local Council for Voluntary Service) to help support the community response – including taking on activities beyond our usual roles. In particular, we will aim to support signposting about a wide range of community support, collaboration between the health and care sector and the community response, and outreach to seldom heard groups.
- Communicating with partners in the Council and NHS to find out how we can work together and what more we can do to help.
- Working with other South East London Healthwatches and the national Healthwatch network to learn about how we can best respond.
- Allowing staff appropriate time away from their desks to volunteer in their local communities, should this become the most helpful use of our resources.
- Contacting our volunteers, especially those who have had a DBS check, if appropriate roles emerge for them, including in partner organisations. There will be no pressure whatsoever for them to take on such roles.
We would like to capture best practice and learning from the response to the outbreak. For example, we will follow Holly Lynch MP’s inquiry into combating long-term social isolation (not to be confused with ‘social distancing’ or ‘self isolation’, which are essential to defeating the virus!).
If you have any queries, get in touch with the Healthwatch Southwark team at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 0207 358 7005.
Useful info created by Healthwatch Southwark
- What is coronavirus (COVID-19)? - What is the coronavirus and how does it spread.
- What should you do about coronavirus? - Find out how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus, and what to do if you have symptoms.
- How are Southwark health services operating during the coronavirus outbreak? - Find out more about the changes hospitals, doctors, and other health services are making to help delay and deal with the coronavirus outbreak, and how this might affect your care.
- Feeling stressed about coronavirus? - An emerging infection or outbreak can make people feel anxious for lots of different reasons, especially when there is so much information out there. Find out more about managing stress, dealing with financial worries, and generally keeping well.
- How are the Southwark authorities responding to coronavirus? - The local Coronavirus Pandemic Committee (CPC) was convened by Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Public Health for Southwark, on 6 February and is meeting regularly.