Southern Health asked Hampshire Healthwatch to conduct service user-led standards audits on three hospital wards across Hampshire. The audits aimed to get a broad view of patient experience by asking about:
- Care and treatment
- Information sharing practices
- Activities and therapies on the ward
- Information they were given about the ward
- Opportunities to discuss their medication
- Involvement in organising discharge arrangements
Southern Health provided the questionnaire for Healthwatch staff and a Southern Health volunteer to use during the visits.
These visits were organised in advance, and in some cases, staff had already informed patients and asked for their consent to participate.
On arrival to the wards, advice was given from staff on which patients had consented to participate and we were also informed that some patients were too unwell to take part.
The following hospitals were visited:
• 30th October, Ford Ward at Fordingbridge Hospital
• 5th November, Deerleap Ward and Longbeech 2 Ward at Lymington Hospital
The wards visited cared for people who were elderly and had some difficulties with speech and comprehension. This made answering the more complex questions challenging, and although questions were rephrased and prompts were used to engage, in some cases, it was frustrating for patients.
It would have been beneficial for Healthwatch to have liaised with ward staff before the visit, to get advice on how best to communicate with patients and to take advantage of any communication aids that are used on the wards.
Key learning from the engagement:
- Tailor the questionnaire to fit the abilities of patients by using easy read/simplified versions of questions.
- Liaise with ward staff prior to the visit and discuss any adjustments/aids which may help ensure patients can participate more fully.
- Engagement visits to overlap with family/carers visiting times to ensure that all patients are advocated for.
- Have some questions that are ward specific, as this could help highlight if wards are able to deliver on their treatment objectives.