22 May

Healthwatch Newcastle Newsletter – 20 May 2020

Tell us your story

Services have had to change the way they support you as they deal with COVID-19.

What are your recent experiences of social care or health services in Newcastle? This could be care received in a hospital, care home, from a dentist or mental health services, to name but a few. Whatever your experiences, we’re listening.

Please tell us your story (or that of a friend or relative) at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk


Eight ways to make a difference

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week from 18 to 24 May, so it seems timely to launch our report on children and young people’s mental health services. Throughout late 2019, 239 people gave us their views. We found that respondents did not fully understand how to make a self-referral to mental health services in Newcastle and Gateshead. You can read about our findings in the ‘Eight ways to make a difference’ report.

If you are a child or young person living in Newcastle aged between 0—18 years old, or a parent or carer of a child or young person living in Newcastle, there is a single point of access if you need support. Phone 0303 123 1147 or email ntawnt.NGSPA@nhs.net.

Read more at https://tinyurl.com/y9uxybdw


Welcome aboard

We’d like to welcome two new members to the Healthwatch Newcastle team, Cynthia Atkin and Jacqui Thompson. Cynthia is the interim Operations Manager and Jacqui is Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator.

Cynthia writes:
“Newcastle Healthwatch is the voice of the people. But we cannot do it without good connections across our richly diverse communities and the health, care and the voluntary sectors. I aim to continue to further strengthen these connections during my period in post.

It is a challenging time to join the team during this unprecedented time where we are all working from home in isolation. Yet we, as Healthwatch, are the independent voice of the patients, public and carers and we continue to uphold our statutory duties to you in Newcastle.”

Read more at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/news/cynthia

Jacqui writes:
“I didn’t think when I accepted the job that I would be working from home, interacting with colleagues by Zoom and that my role would effectively be put on hold.

It’s certainly a new experience to be starting a new job under these circumstances, but I am trying to find the positives. This gives me time to find out about the organisation and the volunteers without also doing the outreach work. Although I am drinking a lot more tea than I would if I was in the office!”

Read more at www.healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk/news/jacqui


Help us help the NHS

Calling all 11—20 year olds in Newcastle and Gateshead! Help us to help the NHS.

Tell us your experiences of GP, dentist, hospital, optician and sexual health services (before the COVID-19 pandemic began). Help us to help the NHS, so that together we can have health services that are friendly for young people.

Your feedback will also contribute to a wider consultation that Children North East is making on poverty-proofing health settings. We have received 46 responses so far, but we’d love to hear more by Monday 1 June 2020.

Take the survey at https://tinyurl.com/YPfriendlyservices


Listen to us!

Enjoy this newsletter on the go by downloading our podcast at soundcloud.com/healthwatch-newcastle


Tune in to ‘Health Matters’

During the pandemic period, we’re doing weekly shows all focused on various aspects of lockdown. We’ve spoken to a pharmacist who works with the NHS 111 service, a primary school teacher and a parent of young children, a hypnotherapist, a psychologist and a men’s mental wellbeing advocate.

Join us next on Tuesday 26 May from 2pm to 4pm on 98.8 FM or listen online at www.spicefm.co.uk

Catch up with previous Health Matters shows at https://soundcloud.com/spice_fm


COVID-19 – government update

The government has added a new symptom to the NHS checklist. A loss or changed sense of taste or smell is now included alongside a continuous cough and fever. Testing for COVID-19 has also been extended to anyone over the age of five.

Read more at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19


Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 18 to 24 May.

We know that COVID-19 is having an impact on people’s mental health. Help is available, including a newly launched website for people in the North East seeking help about suicide and mental wellbeing. It includes guidance for those who have been bereaved by suicide. The website is also for people who work in suicide prevention.

Find out more at www.stopsuicidenenc.org


Experiencing domestic abuse?

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, or at risk, help is on hand.

Call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on Freephone 0808 2000 247 or go to www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk (women and children).

Help for men can be found at https://mensadviceline.org.uk

Boots pharmacies have safe spaces. Ask staff at the counter to use the consultation room. Once inside, you will find the 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline, the men’s advice line and other resources.

If you are in immediate danger always call 999 and ask for the police. If you can’t speak dial +55 when prompted by the operator (mobiles only.


Changes to the Carer’s Allowance

During the COVID-19 pandemic, new regulations have come into force. Unpaid carers can continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets the virus or if they have to isolate because of it.

However, if an alternative carer claims benefit for providing the necessary care and meets the qualifying conditions, they will receive the carer benefit instead and the original carer will be advised to claim another benefit, such as Universal Credit.

Read more at www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/financial-support/help-with-benefits/carers-allowance


Keeping in touch on hospital

Visiting relatives and friends in hospital is not possible at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newcastle Hospitals Trust has a virtual visiting tool so you can have face-to-face conversations with patients or their clinical team. You’ll need a Laptop/PC with camera, microphone, speakers/headphone, a smartphone or tablet to take part.

Find out more at www.newcastle-hospitals.org.uk/patient-guides/coming-to-hospital_keep-in-touch-visiting.aspx


Printing this newsletter

The team is working from home at the moment, so we’re currently unable to provide copies of this newsletter.

If you would like a version you can print out yourself please email us on info@healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk