Healthwatch Week 2020: What did you miss?

Take a look at some of the best from Healthwatch 2020, which saw over 400 staff and volunteers take part in 23 virtual events over four days.
Healthwatch Week 2020 logo

How to use this page.....

Healthwatch Week ran from 2-5 November 2020 and saw staff and volunteers gathered online to learn, share and celebrate. 

  • Find out about the key takeaways from each day.
  • Watch a recording of each session by clicking on the title links, and 
  • Download the presentations from each session.

Day one

A message from Government

The conference kicked off with a personal message from Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock about the difference he believes Healthwatch is making by ensuring that NHS and social care services hear and act on people’s views about care. 

A message from Health Minister Matt Hancock

In focus: A look at health inequalities 

Sir Michael Marmot then joined delegates to reflect on the current state of health inequalities ten years on from his groundbreaking report ‘Marmot Review report – 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives’.  

Sir Michael highlighted his belief that the COVID-19 pandemic has:

"Exposed and amplified health inequalities in England." 

Six steps to help tackle health inequalities

When asked by health journalist Shaun Lintern what, as a society, we should focus on to tackle health inequalities. Sir Michael said he thought we need to focus on:

  1. Early childhood development,
  2. Early education,
  3. Employment,
  4. Having enough money to live on,
  5. Healthy and sustainable communities, and
  6. Prevention.

Watch the recording

Key takeaways from sessions on the day

Achieving impact at external meetings

Local Healthwatch plays a vital role at local board and committee meetings, helping to raise the views of local people when key decisions are made. To ensure this role achieves outcomes for local people, be clear about the results we want to see before agreeing to join a meeting with NHS or social care leaders and recruit volunteers with the right skills to represent their communities.

How to best communicate impact

Establish the outcomes you want to communicate from the start.  Be clear about who you are talking to. Make your outcomes relevant to your audience. Communicate at every stage of your project to keep your audience with you. Focus on clarity, use everyday language and make the most of both strong statistics and case studies.

Researching the views of underrepresented groups

Take time to build trust with the communities you want to reach. Work with community leaders and existing groups to find a way in and then engage people on their terms. Be prepared to answer people's questions about how you will make a difference as some people may be frustrated that feedback they have given to services in the past has not been addressed. 

Our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion

Delegates discussed how the Healthwatch network could improve our approach to equality in our work. Key steps raised included identifying what good practice looks like, increasing the diversity of our boards, staff and volunteers, as well as becoming a champion for better inclusion and equality in the way services engage their communities. 

Taking stock of our strategy

Delegates discussed where we could better focus our strategy. Potential steps include improving our use of digital tools to engage people, improving the sharing of data, strengthening our regional profile and concentrating more on underrepresented communities.

Presentations from the day

Download the presentations from the following sessions

  • Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On 
  • Identifying and articulating the impact of influencing through boards, committees and groups
  • How to communicate impact
  • Carrying out research with underrepresented groups during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Shaping Healthwatch England’s Future Strategy
Presentations from Healthwatch Week Day One

Day two

Day two of Healthwatch week saw some great sessions, ranging from what we can to better campaign at a regional level to how we can improve our support for our thousands of volunteers.

Supporting our volunteers

Carlton Jones from the British Red Cross shared his experience of how best to recruit, manager and support volunteers. Key learnings from this session included:

  • Basing all your support on the values of your service,
  • Making volunteer roles as clear as possible, so you attract people with the right skills, and they understand what they can expect,
  • Providing bite-sized opportunities, so that people can fit volunteering into their busy lives, and 
  • Looking after the welfare of your volunteers, especially during the pandemic, and directing them to sources of help.

Why people volunteer for their local Healthwatch

Some of our thousands of volunteers explain why they volunteer with Healthwatch

In focus: Tackling health inequalities - what role can we play?

Our panel of experts discussed what we already know about health inequalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, what changes need to be made and what role Healthwatch can play in tackling these issues. 

Chaired by Healthwatch England Committee Member Danielle Oum, the panellists included: 

  • Joan Saddler OBE, Associate Director of Patients and Communities at NHS Confederation
  • Dr Jenny Harries OBE, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England
  • Jagtar Singh OBE, Chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust
  • Caroline Waters OBE (Interim Chair) Equalities & Human Rights Commission
  • Anna Severwright, Convenor, Social Care Future

Five reflections from the panel

    1. Services did not give the views and experiences of health and social care users enough priority during the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot let that happen if we are going to get underneath the causes of health equalities and identify solutions.
    2. We need to make more of the existing resources and legal frameworks, but all of us also needs to take personal responsibility for challenging inequality.
    3. Better data is needed and, Healthwatch can play its part by making sure the quality and accessibility of its insight is exemplary.
    4. People affected by inequality need to be at the heart of work on this issue – letting them shape the research questions, as well as putting forward the solutions.
    5. We need to remember that people are individuals with individual needs; they are not “vulnerable groups”. 

Watch the recording

Key takeaways from sessions on the day

Making better use of our CRM

The Healthwatch CRM is a crucial way to record and share information within the network. Ideas on how we can improve the system included using the CRM to capture impact and track volunteer hours.

How to identify outcomes

Using the 'Making a difference toolkit' is a useful way for Healthwatch boards to identify and demonstrate outcomes. However, once you have established how you achieve change, it is essential to test and retest your assumptions.

Improving campaigning at a regional level

Ideas on how to have a stronger voice for Healthwatch at a regional level included working on common issues and appointing regional spokespeople. Healthwatch England can support this activity by arguing for more resources and continuing to provide tools and materials to help campaigns.

Supporting young people's mental health

Young Healthwatch volunteers highlighted tips that can help young people with their mental health during the pandemic.

  1. Seek accurate advice from legitimate sources,
  2. Avoid excessive media coverage,
  3. Look after yourself, and
  4. Stay connected and reach out to others.

Presentations from the day

Download the presentations from the following sessions:

  • CRM: Supporting your impact
  • Volunteering in 2020
  • Identifying Outcomes, Talking Impact
  • The Missing Link: Campaigning on a Regional Level
  • Engagement with young people and their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presentations from Healthwatch Week Day Two

Day three

The third day of our conference saw a debate about the future of social care, as well as our annual Healthwatch Network Awards.

This year, the awards highlighted the difference our staff and volunteers have made.

The impact we make

Find out more about the difference we have made

In focus: Social care reform

What will happen to social care in the next 12 months? What changes are needed to resource and reform the way social care is delivered, and how can Healthwatch be part of making change happen? We heard from a panel who included:

Chaired by BBC social affairs correspondent Alison Holt, the panel included: 

  • Clenton Farquharson MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) Board
  • Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK;
  • Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services;
  • David Pearson CBE, Chair, Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce

Five reflections from the panel

  1. Immediate issues, like using mass COVID-19 testing to support safe care home visits, need to be addressed.
  2. We need to get personalisation right. The emphasis on supporting people's wellbeing and giving choice and control over care - which sits at the heart of the Care Act  - is still the right approach, but it has suffered from poor implementation.
  3. Healthwatch can help provide a much-needed focus on improving the integration between health and care, as well as recognition of the vital role that paid and unpaid carers play.
  4. At a national and local level, there is a need for collective leadership to ensure that the social care sector gets the reforms and investment it needs.
  5. We need to harness the power of the third sector to enable people to live the lives they want, with the right support.

Watch the recording

Key takeaways from sessions on the day

Harnessing best practice and sustainability of the Healthwatch network

Delegates discussed the benefits of using the Quality Framework not only to help improve the work of Healthwatch services but also to provide a positive learning experience for staff, volunteers and board members alike.

Working together: The Care Quality Commission and Healthwatch

The Chair of Healthwatch England, Sir Robert Francis and Ian Trenholm, CEO of CQC, discussed the progress that CQC and Healthwatch have made working together. The impact our joint #BecauseWeAllCare campaign has made in supporting more people to feedback about care was cited as a prime example. Moving forward, CQC committed to doing more to tell local Healthwatch and their communities how the feedback they provide makes a difference.

Watch the recording

How to make change and influence people

This session identified several steps Healthwatch could take to influence local decision-makers. These included:

  • Taking an agile approach to provide rapid evidence on new issues,
  • Supporting people affected by an issue to tell their story directly to decision-makers, and
  • Highlighting solutions that will help to address the problems we have identified.

Presentations from the day

Download the presentations from the following sessions:

  • Harnessing best practice and sustainability of the local Healthwatch network
Presentations from Healthwatch Week Day Three

Healthwatch network awards 2020

In our first-ever virtual awards ceremony, we celebrated the difference our 4,400 staff and volunteers have made over the past twelve months.

Find out more

Day four

Our final day started with a session looking at the different approaches local Healthwatch take to supporting local communities to have their say.

Delegates heard how the 'models of engagement' had been tested, led to changes and were now available as guides so that any local Healthwatch could use them.

Three models of engagement

Why partnership matters

We could not achieve change without the support of local charities, the NHS and social care services. We ask some of our people why partners are so important to our work.

Healthwatch staff explain why working in partnership is so important.

In focus: Keeping people at the heart of care in the new normal

This discussion focused on how we can make sure people and their communities are involved in how health and social care systems are changing, and the role Healthwatch can play. 

Chaired by Rob Webster, CEO of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the panel included:  

  • Amanda Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer, NHS Improvement
  • Sarah Pickup, Deputy Chief Executive, Local Government Association
  • Dame Julie Moore DBE, Professor Healthcare Systems, Warwick University
  • Steve Barwick, Director, DevoConnect

Five reflections from the panel

  1. We will face a long-haul recovery, but we cannot return to how services were before, we need to move forward.
  2. There needs to be a focus on reducing inequalities in health, addressing variations in care and using our resources to make the biggest difference we can.
  3. We also need to build on the positives that have come out of the pandemic, such as the community spirit, the value people place on green spaces or the joined-up way NHS, social care and public health services have worked together.
  4. Greater health and social care devolution will be essential, and
  5. Healthwatch can play a significant role by helping care to become more personalised, assisting services to get a broader perspective, advocating for people whose needs are not being met and supporting the message that the NHS is open for business.

Watch the recording

Key takeaways from sessions on the day

The future direction of NHS services

Danny Mortimer, CEO of the NHS Confed, discussed the future direction of the NHS. At the moment services are dealing with rising COVID-19 admissions, a backlog of care built up in the first COVID-19 peak, as well as maintaining services and meeting winter pressures.  Coming out of the pandemic, we need to ensure that services are sustainable by focussing on:

  • Being honest and realistic about the decisions we face, 
  • Building a flexible culture, 
  • Integrating health and social care,
  • Tackling health inequalities, and 
  • Investing more. 

Watch the recording

A volunteering story

Volunteers from Healthwatch Sefton shared their volunteering experiences before and during the pandemic, why they volunteer and what they have gained. We also heard about the approach the service takes to giving volunteers the best possible experience. Delegates followed this with a discussion about the steps the network can take to strengthen volunteering. Suggestions included auditing the volunteer skills we have and what volunteers get in return, building a bank of standard roles and improving our promotion of volunteer opportunities within care services.

Making a difference in a changing landscape

The conference ended with our Chair Sir Robert Francis and National Director Imelda Redmond reflecting on the four days of the conference. Sir Robert talked about how far the Healthwatch network has come in recent years.

We no longer have to talk about our hope of making a difference as a network; we can now celebrate the impact we are having.

Imelda then went on to talk about how we need to build on this impact by getting better at:

  • Reaching out to every section of the community to help tackle the inequalities in care that people face,
  • Supporting the sharing of real- time insight between Healthwatch England and local Healthwatch, as well with the health and care professionals so they can act on what people tell us, and 
  • Building the sustainability of our services and our influence at a regional level.

Watch the recording   


Download the presentations from the following sessions:

  • The future direction of NHS services

  • Models of Engagement Showcase

  • A volunteering story

Presentations from Healthwatch Week Day Four

Tell us what you thought of Healthwatch 2020?

We want to know what you thought of specific sessions at this year's conference. 

Tell us your views