We're thrilled to announce that one of our volunteers has won a national Healthwatch England award for the work he has done with our team to make it easier for families to find a care home.
Tony Bentley, from Seaham, was presented with the #ItStartsWithYou award at a ceremony on Wednesday 3 October. The award recognises an individual or group that has worked passionately to improve health and social care services for their community. Our project to gather the views of vulnerable women about health screening was also highly commended in the "Helping people have their say category".
Tony beat off stiff competition from other local Healthwatch teams (there are 152 in total) and said he was "gobsmacked" at coming first. He was inspired to improve the quality of information about care homes online when looking for a care home for his mother. He found that even basic details about fees and services were often missing, making it incredibly difficult to make a decision about where would be best for his mum. Tony told our team about his concerns and it sparked a major project to improve care home websites across the county.
Over the last year, Tony has spearheaded the development of a “best-practice” website that other care homes can use to make sure their own websites have all the information members of the public could need. This has involved close work with local care home provider Kaydar and computer company Consett Computers. The finished website is now live and Durham County Council have contacted every care home provider in the region to encourage them to follow its lead. As a result of the project, all care homes with a contract with Durham County Council will also now provide specified core information on durhamlocate.org.uk, the council’s database of local services, meaning families are better able to make informed decisions.
Tony said he was delighted his project had been recognised nationally but that he isn’t ready to call it a day quite yet. He said: "There is still more we can do with the website to make it even more accessible and useful for people. All I want is there to be an improvement in the system and we’ve started the process but we can still do more."