University joins forces with city’s new health and social care consumer champs

University joins forces with city’s new health and social care consumer champs

(L-R) Louise Stratton from Healthwatch Coventry, student volunteer Frank Osanebi and Sonna Odedra from Coventry University.

University news / Research news

Thursday 12 December 2013

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Coventry University is working in partnership with a new health and social care consumer group on a pilot project recruiting student volunteers to assess vital services across the city.

The University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has joined forces with the recently established Healthwatch Coventry to attract students to volunteering roles it is developing in its role as the city’s new consumer champion for local health and social care provision.

Healthwatch Coventry is one of a network of 152 across the country giving local people the opportunity to have their say about how health and social care services in their area work for them. Collectively the groups inform the work of Healthwatch England, an independent arm of the Care Quality Commission, which ensures that the views and voices of service users are fed back to planners and decision makers nationally.

Volunteers will be vitally important to the success of Healthwatch and in Coventry new and interesting roles are being developed to help the group carry out its investigative work. They are on the lookout for people to visit care homes, hospitals and other health and social care settings to gather feedback from users, interview staff members and managers, and report back findings.

Healthwatch Coventry already has one student volunteering for them but they approached the University with a view to signing up more recruits from its health and social care courses. Their hope is that by entering into a more formal arrangement with the University, a steady stream of enthusiastic volunteers will come forward. So far this approach has been working with 13 social work students expressing an interest in getting involved. Healthwatch will be training these latest volunteers in the New Year.

The new partnership is intended to be mutually beneficial with Healthwatch tapping into a wide pool of potential contributors and the students themselves gaining valuable experience in the sector in which they intend to eventually work. The two organisations formalised the relationship with a signing agreement held at the University on Thursday 12 December 2013.

Louise Stratton, Engagement Officer at Healthwatch Coventry, said:

Students and young people are important communities in Coventry’s makeup so we’re keen to involve them in our work. It therefore made sense for us to reach out to those studying health and social care subjects as they will clearly have an interest in the work that we’re doing.

Students bring with them good communication, critical analysis and reporting skills and these are the kinds of things that we’re looking for in our volunteers. They’re the skills that we need to properly assess the standard of care services in Coventry so we’re delighted that the University is supporting us on this project.

Sonna Odedra, Associate Head of the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies at Coventry University said:

Health and social care provision affects not only service users but also their families, friends and colleagues so its impact on local communities is far reaching. We’re pleased therefore to be giving our backing to the important work Healthwatch Coventry will be undertaking in evaluating these services.

We’re encouraging our students to get involved as we believe that they can make a positive contribution to the work of Healthwatch and of course the students themselves will benefit from the experience of working at the frontline of the health and social care sector.

To learn more about volunteering for Healthwatch Coventry visit