Healthwatch Darlington Pandemic Experiences Report 2020 - 2022

Healthwatch Darlington wanted to explore the experiences of local people at each stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report highlights three important milestones: Pre vaccine experiences, Vaccine experiences, Post vaccine experiences.

Due to the pandemic the entire healthcare system was forced to rethink how they could make services accessible to service users whilst keeping our communities safe. Covid did not just affect individuals, it affected everyone and many challenges had to be faced.

Moving forward we hope that the close relationships fostered with many different partners within the system such as local authorities, primary care, public health and voluntary and community sector organisations are not lost, but used to improve services for our communities right across the North East and North Cumbria.

The emphasis on community centred care will hopefully provide more effective ways of reaching people, improving their health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.

I would like to express appreciation on behalf of the team at Healthwatch Darlington, to everyone who took part in our surveys and focus groups or took the time to contact us and share their health and care experiences. Many of you wished to express your gratitude and respect to those in key worker roles throughout the pandemic, and we include your comments in Appendix Two of this report.
— Michelle Thompson B.E.M., Chief Executive Officer, Healthwatch Darlington

You provided key areas where you hope for focus and improvement in the future. These were:

  • Accessibility of existing services and keeping the public up to date with any changes needed through good communication. 
  • Digital inclusion – that no one is left out because they cannot or do not access online services, or systems that require digital process.
  • The ability of carers and loved ones to be present at health and care appointments to provide emotional and practical support to patients.
  • The right to choose face to face or online consultations.
  • Acknowledgement and solutions of communication barriers, such as wearing masks, when talking to those requiring health and care services.
  • Support for ‘Long COVID’.
  • Support for mental health.

Read the full report including responses to our recommendations from local NHS commissioners and providers

HWD Pandemic Experiences 2020 - 2022

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Youthwatch Darlington interview NSPCC and Kooth for this year's Children's Mental Health Week 2021.