People are helping to co-design community-based care across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

People who work in, support and use health and care services are giving their views and experiences to contribute to co-designing sustainable, joined-up, community-based care in or near people’s homes.

The NHS, Cornwall Council and partner organisations are looking at the local needs and community service provision in Penwith, Fowey and Saltash areas, and what that means for the future of Edward Hain, St Barnabas and Fowey community hospitals.

During the past 18 months the NHS and Cornwall Council have been working with people who live and work in these areas to understand what health and care services are needed in the community, as part of the work to create a health and care system that’s fit for the 21st century and to put people and their needs at the heart of these plans.

People from these communities were invited to attend local workshops during the last fortnight to help shape the plans. Participants across the three workshops were supportive that community services need to be more joined up and were keen to share ideas, experiences and views of how services should respond to the health and care needs of people in Penwith, Fowey and Saltash. They also asked that the right issues are tackled in a timely fashion.

The questions asked at each of the three workshops were:

  • What are our key challenges in supporting communities and individuals to thrive?
  • What do our communities need, and what’s important to us?
  • What do we need to change to provide local care and support services that are fit for the future?

People discussed the issues and opportunities specific to their local area which included lack of transport links, people wanting to stay in their own homes and the challenges of recruiting and retaining sufficient health and care staff. Conversations were also had about whether the current community hospitals are fit for purpose now and into the future, services being as close to home as possible and community beds which GPs can admit patients to for short stay assessment and support.

Community services workshop

Caption: John Groom, NHS Kernow’s director for integrated care, speaking at the Fowey community services workshop

Speaking following the workshop in Fowey, John Groom, NHS Kernow’s director for integrated care, said: “There were very healthy and proactive discussions.

“What the group told us very clearly was that while people want to see something happen quickly it’s imperative that it’s right for the residents of Fowey, and this is what we will continue to do through these workshops.”

Community services workshop2

Dr Andy Virr, (pictured) Cornwall councillor for Fowey, Tywardreath and Golant, said it was great to see so many people from different areas coming together to discuss the future of Fowey community hospital.

He said: “I think there’s still a sense of frustration that we’re still talking about what to do with the hospital, but there’s still a real energy to try and see a solution.”

He added that action was the key thing that he needed to see.

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Caption: Peter Thistlethwaite, a member of the patient participation group for Port View Surgery in Saltash, at the Saltash community services workshop.

Peter Thistlethwaite, who is a member of the patient participation group for Port View surgery in Saltash, is also of the same view as councillor Virr and wants to see changes starting to happen.

Mr Thistlethwaite said: “I’m quite community-minded and I’ve been involved in thinking about the NHS care provision in the town for quite a number of years. I’m here to make sure the voice of the people gets crafted into the process and something comes out of it.”

Deborah Stevens, medical director for Cornwall Hospice Care and has worked in medicine in Cornwall since 1983, was among the participants at Penwith.

She said: “For me it was absolutely refreshing that everybody was thinking about what the need is and then looking at developing or redeveloping services around that. We discussed maintaining what is needed, working differently and not focusing on buildings or any particular resource."

Councillor Sue Nicholas, representing Marazion and Perranuthnoe, added: “I think it’s really good that we’re thinking outside of the box and everybody wants to work together. Way back in the health service we all worked for the NHS, we didn’t have Trusts that did this, that and the other and I think really the way forward is to go back to that and stop looking at budgets and whether you are working to a budget within an organisation so that it actually frees up the budget for the people who need it on the ground”.

The next workshops are due to take place across May, June and July.