Healthwatch Sheffield is responsible for engaging with members of the public and ensuring that their views are heard and fully considered in the design and delivery of the projects in the programme. A main aim of the engagement work is to improve the experience of people who are recruited to take part. To achieve this, a group of volunteers were recruited in September 2016 to form the Test Bed Advisory Group (TAG).
A year after taking early retirement I was devastated to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I had worked in the NHS for over 40 years and had been used to meeting with groups of clinical professionals as well as regularly giving talks. I suddenly felt very alone and that all my past education, experience and knowledge was for nothing.
Initially I concentrated on my own health, learning how to manage life with a Long Term Condition that has no cure – whilst acting as care giver for my mother as well as running the home for my husband and two sons. I got to know others with Parkinson’s and realised that most of them do not have an understanding of the inner workings of the NHS.
I decided to use my background to volunteer for campaigns that supported Parkinson’s UK nationally. I represented the charity on one occasion and then I heard nothing from them. I felt I had been used as a ‘token’ patient.
This is in contrast to my experience as a Patient representative for the Sheffield “Perfect Patient Pathway” Test Bed project. The Healthcare manager who leads the Test Bed Advisory Group (TAG) supports us through all the hard work we have accomplished. The members of TAG have formed a strong cohesive group of people over the past year and it is a pleasure working with them.
I have become the representative on the Test Bed Board, where I voice the opinion of TAG and feel appreciated by the NHS and Innovation managers.
Chris Sterry is a family carer who as well as caring for his disabled daughter, is actively involved with many aspects of disability both within the public and charity sectors. He is a Carer rep on LD Partnership Board, Carers SIF and LD SIF with SCC and Carers Strategy Project with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. Also a Trustee of Sheffield Mencap & Gateway and a member of the Carers Expert Panel with the Carers Centre and facilitates a LD carers support group at the Carers Centre, Enter & View Rep with Healthwatch Sheffield and runs his own Blog.
Lee Harker sits on the Sheffield City Council’s Access Liaison Committee, which reviews large planning applications the city in terms of accessibility. Lee comments on the suitability of the plans for people with different impairments, and helps establish whether they are DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant, so that as many people as possible can access and use public buildings in Sheffield.
Lee is a member of the Disability and Sensory Impairment Service Improvement Forum. He also volunteers for Healthwatch Sheffield as an Enter and View Representative. As part of this role he has visited care homes and suggested improvements.
Brenda is interested in the use of technology for use by patients in managing their medical conditions, and in such technology as it relates to diabetes, in particular as she has type 1 diabetes. She is an associate member of the Diabetes UK Sheffield group. She is a keen proponent of Public Involvement in Health research and is a member of several Public Involvement groups. She has participated in various focus groups and has been a participant in 3 health research studies.
Geoff has been actively involved in voluntary work since1998; he commented ‘I enjoy this as it keeps me aware of the current issues in Social Care and equality issues within society’. His catalogue of work in this area includes being elected onto the Board of Quality Care Partnership and programme board (business) social care accounts.
Geoff has also contributed to a variety of training sessions including; several sessions within the Skills for Care Service User and Carer Training Project, equality training for care providers working for Sheffield City Council (SCC), skills workshops about care personalisation and individual budgets, and he has worked with SCC on mapping PA training.
In September 2009, Geoff-s contributions were acknowledged when he won the Individual National Training Award for the Yorkshire and Humberside area.
Ian is a member of the National Survivor User Network (NSUN), and Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). He has a great passion for improving Mental Health Services, and along with a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), presented at the Mental Health Foundation in London, on setting up Service User Led groups. Ian has also been involved in a 2 year research project, along with a senior lecturer from Sheffield Hallam University, which was funded by the General Social Care Council, the subject of the final presentation was Service Users and Carers involvement in higher education, and this was at Middlesex University along with other Universities that were also presenting.
Ian has been involved with Sheffield Hallam University for over 12 years and the University, being involved with Occupational Therapy, Nursing and Social Work, at various levels from course validations, interview process, student induction, up to the student presentations, to make sure that Service User and Carer perspectives, regarding Mental Health are present throughout the courses.
Ian believes in the use of technology, as a useful tool to highlight potential problems, and so increase the chance of early interventions where needed.