2020-21: A year like no other
April 2020 saw the start of a new financial year, one unlike we'd ever experienced. For us and many other organisations, we were working remotely and had to move many of our activities online.
We rely on speaking to the public - hearing your views and answering your questions - so this was a real challenge. However, we were available by phone, email, text, and on social media, and our information & advice line saw a 93% rise this year. People got in touch to ask about changes to how health and care services were being delivered, and what they were struggling to access given their own personal circumstances.
We also began turning these enquiries, and other feedback we were hearing from the public or through voluntary sector partners, into regular briefings. They summarised the barriers that local people were coming up against - things like getting patient transport, getting urgent dental care, or issues with new rules and regulations.
These were well-received by local commissioners and people who run services, and allowed organisations to change their approach or systems to work for those they support. For example, when local people with complex needs told us they couldn't wear a face covering, we worked with Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group to create and distribute exemption cards to those who needed them.
Last year we set out 4 priority work areas which we said we would focus on alongside the responsive work we were doing in the face of Covid-19.
These were our priorities, and some of the work we have done:
- Adult Social Care. We gathered the experiences of care home residents and their relatives, as well as care home staff, to explore if/how homes were supporting visiting during the pandemic. We also worked with Sheffield City Council to develop virtual care home visits, and did work to support people to have a say in the Council's plans to improve home care services. This included supporting SADACCA to ensure that the voices of Sheffield's African Carribean community were heard in this consultation
- Mental Health. We published our report on The Mental Health Journey - this was 9 in-depth interviews with individuals, who told us about their experiences accessing and moving between different mental health services in Sheffield. These stories are now being used by commissioners to inform the crisis care transformation work in the city.
- Impact of Covid-19 on the delivery of health and care services. As well as the briefings and up-to-date intelligence sharing described above, we carried out a dedicated piece of work exploring people's experiences of support during the pandemic. 567 people filled in our survey, which was sent out via foodbanks and voluntary sector partners as well as being online. The intelligence we gathered about people's experiences led to us submitting evidence to one of Sheffield's Scrutiny committees about the unequal impact of Covid-19 on disabled people, and resulted in an action plan on issues such as respite, social care, and travel.
- Accessing support for Recessive Genetic Conditions. We worked with the community-based Sheffield Genetic Literacy Project to explore the experiences of families accessing support for recessive genetic conditions, as well as the confidence of professionals in providing this support. This report and its recommendations will be published in July 2021.
What does next year hold?
In 2021-22 we hope to return to face-to-face work, getting out and about in public and welcoming you to our events. We also plan to develop our information & advice offer, to support even more people and provide information in a way that works for you. Last but not least, we are committed to highlighting and challenging health inequalities - working with local people and challenging those in a position of power to act will be a current that runs under all our work. This has informed both our strategy and workplan for the coming years.
Our priority work areas are:
- Maternity Services for Black and Asian women
- Services for autistic adults
- People having a say in new health and care structures (regional and Sheffield- based structures)
- Impact of Covid-19 – new health challenges, changes to services
Want more detail?
You can read our full annual report for more details about the work we've done, and how we plan to work next year. You can also get in touch with us if you'd like to discuss our work, tell us your own experiences, or work with us.