Coventry University students partner with Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham to put people at the heart of care
Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham welcomed six students from Coventry University’s Health and Social care course to spend three days with them last week. The placement offered students the chance to get involved with local healthcare by finding out what matters to people who live in Barking and Dagenham and using these views to contribute to the work of Healthwatch. Healthwatch’s purpose is to understand the needs, experiences and concerns of people who use health and social care services in Barking and Dagenham and to speak out on their behalf, so that these services can be shaped to suit our local needs.
Students were trained as Enter and View Representatives and undertook visits to four different GP Practices across the borough with the support of Healthwatch staff. This is because local people have told us that they are concerned about the length of time they have to wait before being able to get a GP appointment. Healthwatch will undertake six other Enter & View visits to GP practices in the borough before March 2019. They are also inviting GPs to explain the challenges they face and identify surgeries who have managed to overcome long waiting times, in an effort to reduce waiting times across the borough.
During the visits the students observed and spoke to service users about their experiences of the accessing GP services and collected evidence of the quality and standard of the services being provided. The GP practices were unaware that these visits were going to take place beforehand.
Students also visited Barking Library, Dagenham Library, The Ripple Centre and Barking Walk in centre to speak to service users about the areas of health and social care they thought needed to be looked into in the near future.
One student commented “I found going to Axe Street GP practice and Barking walk-in centre to be interesting and really fun. I enjoyed the fact we were allowed to go out in the community and be productive rather than doing simple admin work I really felt like part of a team in a work environment.”
Another commented “The whole experience was very enjoyable and I liked talking to people. Communicating with strangers was one of my biggest fears before completing this work placement”
Students and Coventry University staff were pleased that activities undertaken could be applied to their studies in a number of ways:
- The placements offered them a chance to gain an insight as to how the NHS, local authority and the voluntary sector work in collaboration to improve health and care services.
- Students gained knowledge on the challenges local people face when accessing health and care service
- The impact these issues have on one’s wellbeing their health and wellbeing.
Elspeth Paisley, Project Manager said “We were delighted to have these students from the university join us. It’s vital that, in the face of the financial challenges faced by health and social care services, that the system doesn’t lose sight of the very people who they serve and who are at the receiving end of the decisions made about these services. Students like these are our future and we are passionate that they have the opportunity to understand not only the theory of health and social care, but the way that it impacts on the lives of local people. We look forward to continuing to build this relationship with Coventry University and welcoming many more future students.”
Bev Prynn, Careers & Employability Officer for Coventry University said “Placements are beneficial for our students at CU London as they gain practical experience relating to their course. Our new partnership with Healthwatch in Barking & Dagenham has taken off since September and working together has proven success with our first group of students working in the local community engaging with employers, other support services in the borough and residents.
Both the university and Healthwatch have had discussions on how the placement can support the learning outcomes of their assignment enabling the activities to relate and give them the good quality experience. Our students have already built up good relationships with Healthwatch and would like to continue their next placement with them which is really encouraging. At CU London we encourage our students to have the best opportunities available to them including working with valued employers. We are excited about the relationship we have established and hope to continue the process of placements for our students.”
Healthwatch would like to open this offer up to any students who are studying health or social care. Our volunteering programme gives individuals the chance to develop skills such as researching, communication and seeing how the health and care system works. It gives our volunteers the chance to make a difference to our local health and care system. If you are interested in the placement programme do contact us by calling 0800 298 5331 or emailing Manisha.Modhvadia@healthwatchbarkinganddagenham.co.uk.
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