August 2023

Crossroads – Caring for Carers has been an affiliated member of the Carers Trust since 2012, providing a wide range of community care services across Sandwell, Birmingham and the Black Country. 

They offer personalised and flexible care at home to support daily living needs, enabling people with complex needs to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. This care can be provided alongside social care services, or it can be funded by the person themselves or their family. 

During this community conversation, our involvement colleague learnt that there are over 260 young carers known across the Dudley Borough, with many more not known. 

Dudley Carers Group is only able to run one youth club per week, which normally attracts a maximum of 20 children and young people. They have limited funding to get them to the clubs via booked transport, and a lot of children and young people are unable to attend due to caring for their family. This therefore affects their wellbeing, as they are unable to build relationships, have a safe space to talk, receive advice or complete their homework. 

They informed our involvement colleague that they would like some additional support with health-related information, advice and guidance that they can offer to young carers. 

This conversation was shared at the bi-weekly Integrated Care Board meeting for Dudley and Crossroads is now a part of the Dudley Carers Alliance Group which supports the borough-wide approach of improving care services in Dudley. 

They have also been given funding opportunities to help increase sport and physical activities for their children and young people.

Aspire4U CIC (Community Interest Company) is a not-for-profit community engagement organisation that helps young people, families and communities by using the arts to steer mindsets towards wellbeing, financial literacy and employability. 

They work with children and young people across the Black Country, using various tools and methods that help to remove and reduce participation barriers in activities. The key message from their conversation with our involvement colleague, Stuart, was that children and young people are more likely to listen to their peers as they can relate to and engage with them. 

They expressed that they would like the opportunity to work with us on promoting more youth-led health messages, which our involvement team is keen to have their support on. 

Following the conversation, they met with our head of involvement at one of our People Panels, and they have been commissioned to record and create our next Feet on the Street campaign in November. This will focus on children and young people.

Lived Experience Consultants help service improvement projects and work to capture the views, perspectives and experiences of people who have previously accessed or are currently accessing our services.  

They believe that these projects are much more likely to be successful if people who have experienced using services are involved as much as possible. 

During a conversation with our involvement colleague, they raised that there doesn’t appear to be a clear message on what the social care assessment booking process is, highlighting that there have been many times where assessment dates and times have been changed. 

They also raised the lack of bespoke and long-term support available, explaining that they can only access “limited” short-term support despite people needing more, particularly those that have advanced needs.  

They explained that those who are suffering from mental health challenges, especially those acting as carers, need all the support they can get. They need to be informed of the services available and how they can be accessed, and more awareness needs to be raised around GPs having mental health practitioners. 

The involvement team has shared this information at the Dudley Integrated Care Board meeting and it has also been recorded on our Dudley People Panel. Our contact has also been provided with details on how to join the Dudley Carers Alliance Group so that they can share their lived experiences with the group and help shape our strategy. 

The Business Improvement District (BID) support with a wide range of projects to help improve the city. They run the Change Makers Hub, next to Wolverhampton’s train station, and one of their provisions is a Late Night Safe Haven, where they work with the police to help people access care, advice and assistance when they need it. They support around 20 people each evening, offering them a safe space after a night out. 

The Late Night Safe Haven stated that many of the people they speak to have become disoriented from alcohol or drug use. They use a van to support people to stay safe by finding friends, charging phones, providing water and first aid, and signposting them to the services they may need. These interventions often prevent people from needing to go to their nearest Accident and Emergency Department. 

Going forwards, BID would like to share the key messages they are hearing from the community around health and services, to ensure that the voices of the people using their Late Night Safe Haven are heard. We have shared details of Black Country Voices and our People Panels to give them the opportunity to have their say.  

Oldbury Health Centre’s Coffee Morning is a social group that has been meeting for around one year. There is a real sense of community within the group, which is open to anyone who wishes to attend. 

Attendees begin their morning with a gentle exercise class, followed by a coffee morning with a quiz, bingo or skittles. 

They really care about their practice and are keen to grow their Patient Participation Group (PPG), but they are struggling to promote the PPG on the screens within the practice. The involvement team have worked with the communications team to give the PPG direction on how the screens work and how to add their flyer to them.  

There were also concerns raised about primary care access. Our involvement team informed the group about the plans for involving people and communities in designing those messages. They will be keeping in touch with the group about how they can get involved in that piece of work and how they can continue to get involved with Integrated Care Board work via the People Panels. 

July 2023

The Green Square Accord offers space for local residents to hold coffee clubs and activities to combat social isolation, for example, an older people Asian group meets to play games and have snacks. Dementia cafes also run from the centre providing an area for patient and their carers. An outreach worker is also available to meet patients and their families when they are diagnosed with dementia.

The involvement team attended a regular group. They wanted to raise concerns about pharmacy repeat prescriptions taking three days, and the barriers if only some items were available, and the need to wait until all items could be given.

Others wanted to share feedback about their GP practice and lack of communication when someone is expecting a call back from the GP and lack of appointments available when telephoning the surgery.

All feedback has been shared with the head of pharmacy for Walsall and the primary care team to feed into future improvements around communication and access.

Two ladies also wanted to share their experiences about appointments at different hospitals and locations. They had to travel and rely on family members to support them. One lady was referred from Walsall Manor to Cannock, and the other was referred from Cannock to Walsall Manor. They both now have a cataract operation booked at Cannock. Their feedback has been shared with Time2Talk to record and share with partners for information.

During the visit, the involvement team described the ICB's customer service team, Time2Talk, and the interpretation service available which allows people to contact them in their preferred language. This was well received by the group members.

The digital world is fast growing and it's a key part in all our lives from online shopping, finding contact details for local businesses and looking after our health. The NHS needs to be at the front and centre of digital advances to help people live healthy lives. In our latest Feet on the Street video our Integrated Care Board heard from local people on their recent experiences of using digital to access health services, as well as information about our approach going forward.

The video was heard at the start of the Board meeting on 27 July and perfectly set the tone for the Board to consider the Black County Integrated Care System Digital Strategy, which was received at the meeting. The digital strategy describes three principles; digitise, connect, and transform. A digital roadmap showcases key activities to be achieved over a three-year period, you can view the strategy and the roadmap for delivery from page 35 of the papers.

Having heard the Feet on the Street video, discussion from Board members centred around the digital inequality aspect and the need for all partners to do more to recognise and respond to this. In deploying the strategy, it was asked that this was at the forefront of our plans.

As always a big thank you to everyone who featured in Feet on the Street this month and to HealthWave for working with us on improving inequalities in this area.

Watch the Feet on the Street video below via YouTube, you can also view the transcript of the video.

Read more about our digital inequalities work with Black Country Connected.

On Thursday, 26 July we were invited by Wolverhampton Homes to attend the active residents’ association in Rake Gate. The group meet quarterly at the Methodist Church in Oxley, Wolverhampton to address local matters.

The planned new build Oxley Health and Wellbeing Facility was discussed. Mobilisation works are underway ahead of full demolition starting in the coming weeks to pave the way for the new facility and homes, so we thought it is an important time to hear people’s views on the development.

The Rakegate Tenants & Residents Association (RTRA) also invited the City of Wolverhampton Council to attend the meeting to present their proposed plans following the granting of outline planning permission. The Council supported the RTRAs meeting by producing and distributing 2,500 leaflets locally as this was another opportunity to invite discussion and comments about the new build following the successful spring and summer community feedback events held at Probert Road last year. We went to listen to how people feel, their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

We heard lots of concerns about existing traffic issues. There were comments on people speeding in a residential area with no speed bumps to slow drivers down. Another point raised was around the bus route which stops near to the corner adding to the traffic, along with concerns over approaching the sharp corner. We also heard about an incident of speeding where a car went into someone’s garden, enhancing the need to look into traffic control further.

Parking was a separate issue many of the residents raised, we heard about the limited parking available, and that people often park their cars on the road outside houses opposite Probert Road Surgery. Even though there are parking spaces available at Probert Road surgery, people are reluctant to use these as they are located to the rear. One suggested resolution was to find a way to “use the wasteland at the library as an additional car park”. The new proposals include parking to the front of the proposed health facility, making parking for patients more accessible and safe.

The need for a local sensory room was discussed and it was noted that this is included in the new build plans together with a sensory garden. Residents spoke about the need for people to have a sensory room for people with autism, sensory overload, learning disabilities, dementia and how this could improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Residents expressed a need for extra GPs to cut waiting times and create more appointments for Community CPN, mental health services, CAMHS, diabetic nurse, speech and language, asthma nurse, lung function clinic, physiotherapy services, minor surgery, out of hours services, podiatry, dietician, health and wellbeing services and women’s health services.

City of Wolverhampton Council is working together with the community on this development and is keen to hear your views, you can contact them on

We met with Chloe from Shared Lives, as inspirational young individual who is fighting for more to be done for people living with autism. Chloe has even presented her case to parliament, trying to inspire change. Shared Lives are a new group provided by Camphill Village Trust, supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism in Wolverhampton.

Chloe explained how the group would like more sensory rooms available for people with sensory needs, including learning disabilities, autism and dementia, as this would create safe and happy places to go, supporting people with mental health and overall wellbeing.

We also heard concerns over the lack of connectivity between services when it comes to autism, that communication between different organisations needs to be more joined up and coordinated to ensure people are supported when they need it most.

We are going to stay in touch with Chloe, linking her in with OneWolverhampton’s Living Well workstream, who are developing health and wellbeing hubs across the city to explore these ideas further. We are also talking to City of Wolverhampton Council about the suggestion to incorporate a sensory room in the new build health and wellbeing facility they are currently codesigning with the community in Oxley.

You can find out more about Shared Lives here: Shared Lives West Midlands | Adult Support| Camphill Village Trust

HY5! Are a friendly group of young people who know what it's like to have additional needs and disabilities. They meet weekly to discuss things that are important to them and share their thoughts and ideas with people who can help. They work together and make changes where it matters most, creating better futures for young people in Wolverhampton. HY5! have worked together to create a training programme to educate others on what it is like to be a young person with disabilities or additional needs, to influence leaders and decision makers, bring positive change. The young people led their first session on 18 May, which included a wide range of people working across education, the council, mental health, NHS England and the ICB. 

We were told that most people take basic daily tasks for granted, but for many young people with disabilities, getting up, clean, dressed and fed is an achievement in itself. This can take all their energy depending on their disability, therefore having healthcare appointments in the afternoon would reduce the pressure and difficulty.​

The 'Top Tips' they want to pass on to health care providers and commissioners include:​

  • End the SEND, no-one likes to be labelled​
  • Respect my boundaries and independence​
  • Mind your language and don't accept offensive words​
  • Don’t patronise me or talk down to me ​
  • Offer me the same opportunities, it might mean a few changes but it's not hard​
  • Don't just presume or make choices for me​
  • Include me in the conversation and make sure I've understood​
  • Don't talk or finish sentences for me​
  • Check in with me and make sure nothing's worrying me​
  • Challenge bullying – it's got to stop full stop.

We have spoken to colleagues at OneWolverhampton about these and plan to visit the some of the different groups they run to explore this further, hear more about their experiences and understand what they would like to see happen.

Action for Deafness is a charity that helps people with hearing loss. Our involvement team visited to hear feedback on healthcare services.

People fed back that they often get letters from hospitals asking them to phone to make an appointment. They feel they should know they are deaf if the referral is from their GP.

One person had a poor experience when staff were calling their name from the waiting area, which they could not hear. This led to them going to the reception staff to query where they were and then they would point at the person waiting and become rude.

Some shared issues at their general practice, such as waiting three weeks to see a GP about their pain issue, finding the GP practice booking system difficult to navigate and relying on family to help, and delays in sorting a prescription.

Others shared poor experiences with an interpreter. One person found their interpreter did not turn up and one found a level 1 BSL-trained nurse was not competent to have a conversation meaning they both had to re-book their appointments. One shared that their hospital letter did not mention the option of an interpreter at their appointment, and others shared that interpreters can not be booked for Specsavers.

The group shared useful insights with the team such as staff receiving deaf awareness training, being mindful that BSL is a different language and face-to-face interpretation is better than video conferencing. People from the group generally felt that they had lost their independence, had no privacy, and had to wait for support from someone to call or make contact on their behalf.

Following the visit, the involvement team raised each of the experiences with the senior management team and primary care team to reflect on and consider changes to communication in the future. The contracting team confirmed that all pharmacies, opticians, and dentists have access to Word 360 to book BSL interpreters.

The insights gathered from the visit were also shared with PALS and colleagues at Walsall Manor Hospital to consider and learn from.

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