The equity and experiences of Continuing Health Care (CHC) assessments is a priority area for Healthwatch Sheffield in 2018/19. This means that it’s one of the main issues that we will focus on to help make health and social care services work better.
Whilst the people’s experiences of the CHC assessment process can be confusing, frustrating and stressful, a ‘service development project’ has been initiated by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Sheffield City Council (SCC).
We want to make sure people's experiences are at the heart of this project.
As part of this, we carried out a focus group in partnership with NHS Sheffield CCG and Sheffield City Council so that people had the chance to share their experiences of CHC assessments in the city with those directly involved in designing the assessments.
- Communication. There can be multiple staff involved in a single assessment and this can lead to inconsistencies. For example, in communication styles, and in the understanding the staff have of the case. It can take a long time for new workers to really understand a person’s needs.
- Trust and relationships. Paid and unpaid carers felt that they weren’t always listened to. Participants said they wanted to be treated with respect and friendliness, and that their most positive experiences of assessments involved higher levels of trust between the assessor, the service user, and their carers.
- Evidence. Some participants described feeling confused about what evidence would be accepted and that some key sources of evidence were not included. Evidence can also be difficult to present as discussion about the extent of a person's needs can be distressing to them.
- Improving experience and monitoring quality. Participants were clear that asking about the experience at the end of the process would be ‘too late’ - good quality information should be given at the beginning of the process, and they should have an early opportunity to give feedback.
Sheffield CCG and Sheffield City Council were able to learn a great deal from this focus group. They are planning to incorporate these findings into their improvement project, and in the first instance will be developing a regular newsletter which aims to keep people in receipt of services up to date regarding any changes.